Bold With Care Conversations: Shara Vigeant, Part Two

View More: images by FO Photography

I’m back with Shara Vigeant talking about being bold with care. This is Part Two of my first interview for Cared Humanity‘s series, Bold With Care Conversations. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to check out Shara’s awesome fitness facility, SVPT: Fitness and Athletics, in Edmonton, Alberta. Congratulations, Shara, for receiving a 2014 Global Woman of Vision Award. Your Vision – a champion mindset  – is one of the reasons you inspire us to be bold with care! You show us that taking care of others and taking care of ourselves can go hand in hand.

“I can do this.” ~Shara Vigeant

1)   What are the biggest challenges you confront in the fitness industry? How do these get in the way of helping people reach their goals?

Fear. The biggest challenge is people are so scared of reaching their goals. I was scared to succeed because then I had to maintain it. I like the struggle or climb more than the end goal. People get fearful of success. Fear manifests itself in making excuses. Why? Why are you scared? In case you fail. I can’t express how important failure is. Who says that’s “failure.” Often people don’t make lofty goals. For me, opening up my own facility was a lofty goal. 

Some people stay at the surface. Again, mental/emotional/physical – it could be jumping onto a box (physical), figuring why you’re stuck (emotional), or digging deep for what you want (mental).

We are bombarded with media images and “this is the ideal.” We all battle that, especially women. I tell clients to “go on an information diet” and just come to train, be here and then they see it’s not the number on the scale. I ask them “How do you feel?” I get it, though. I still am like that too. Women are the hardest with this. We are so hard on ourselves. That’s why I love when I see a woman’s goal shift from losing weight to lifting weight. There is a lot of breaking social norms and misconceptions needed and we ‘fight the good fight.’ The gym can empower people. We don’t do “fluff” here. 

I see women being empowered in here to be strong.

“I love when I see a woman’s goal shift from losing weight to lifting weight.” ~Shara Vigeant


2) What is unique about training professional athletes?

With Professional Athletes they have a hard time getting that care and support outside of what comes from their Coaches. The amount that you have to give to be a professional athlete is at least 3x the training. You must do more to succeed and they are spread really thin. It takes away from family time. There’s so many dynamics in the relationships. After a performance you’ll see them thanking Coach and Family. Family can get resentful because athletes have to be selfish. There are tradeoffs. A spouse may pick it up. It can wear on families and the fighters. They are feeling the physical effects and the family effects. It all depends on the support. I’ve seen relationships break up. Following your passion can be painful. It’s not always roses.

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“It all depends on the support.” ~ Shara Vigeant

3)   I’d love to know about some lessons you’ve learned about social norms and society’s gender expectations. You are a trailblazer in a male dominated sport. Can you tell me about your work with “fighters?” 

For MMA (mixed martial arts) there are lots of assumptions I’m up against. At my last training seminar only 3 of 20 Coaches there were women! We’re up against all these “ideals.” I want to be seen as an equal. I learned that you can’t be too feminine and “girly” to do this.

At the Women of Vision Awards some of the guys were surprised I was all dressed up…. I’m still a girl! I actually see that as a win – that they don’t see me that way. It shows I am being taken seriously.

When I am at the fights I play such a different role than the “Ring Girls.” I don’t judge. I find it interesting we are at two extremes of femininity – it’s worlds apart. I wonder about what they must be caring about. We both want to be accepted, just for a different purpose.


Shara has a BA in Sociology. She draws on this understanding of social interactions and dynamics all the time. Coaching is about more than the physical training. It’s all about the relationships.


4) What does the word “fighter” mean to you? Is this different from 10 years ago?

I sometimes use the word “fighter,” but people attach a negative association like Street Fighter and don’t understand the athletics. I like the word athlete. I try to stay away from fighter (it seems a lower level word). Athlete encompasses more. It says more. Envisioning great people versus the guy on the street or outside a bar. MMA Athlete demands more respect than MMA Fighter.

Why wouldn’t they be referred to as athlete? That’s what they do. Once I started calling this one man an athlete he started changing. I could tell in our strength and conditioning workouts. He said “I feel like an athlete.”

In the case of a woman, Female Fighter sounds powerful and builds her up. It shows she is legit. She’s breaking boundaries. For her to be taken seriously as a Boxer is important.

How you use words influences the value people will put on them and the athletes will put on themselves. How they will value me, themselves. Labels are so powerful. They can be good and they can be bad. Because I get so invested in the athletes I want them to be respected. They are doing something most wouldn’t try. What they put their bodies through. And how these athletes push themselves. I respect them sticking to goals.

“It all comes down to respect.” ~ Shara Vigeant


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5)   What does leader or leadership mean to you?

Leader makes me feel uncomfortable. I am growing more aware of the leadership role I play but I don’t like the elitist connotation. I like to work as a team. Everyone says I lead by example. It’s more subtle. I don’t like being called a boss either. I don’t like the label.

I approach it as a team: let’s work together, work on it together. You get better results that way. 

I will make referrals. I’m not a psychologist and I tell clients that if they feel they are constantly coming up against the same things, do get help to get through that wall in the form of therapy. If something is beyond my scope, more than diet and exercise but deep mind, I’ll refer. That’s part of the care. Therapy gives tools, like communication.  

6) What values inspire you to be bold even when you are fearful, uncertain or challenged?


 Happiness – no matter how the days is try to flip the perspective. I am grateful for this drama. I’m excited for what I will learn. There is a lesson here.


7) When do you feel grateful and happy?

When everyone around me is happy – my husband, my dogs, my team.

(So relationships are a value for you?)

Yeah, I’m such a giver, making sure everyone is ok.


8)   I notice that you use the hashtag #grateful often on Twitter. Why is gratitude so important to you?

My self care is gratitude. For three years I have seen the power of gratitude. When I started being thankful for what is there everything changed. I was so focused on what I didn’t have. I get goosebumps thinking of it. I know things could be worse. I share this will clients. I have the ability to (whatever it is) …

 Be grateful (I remind myself) for all I have: First and foremost, my health.


My self care is gratitude.


9) Do you ever struggle with self-care and what self-care practices help you?

I train 4-5 times a week. I do weights and Maui Tay. Physically, I aim for balance. My self care takes a backseat because of caring for others. I struggle with balance. I may be working in the evening rather than sleeping. I need more time off and sleep. I’m realizing how important boundaries are. My husband makes me have self care, especially on the Sundays he is home. Education is part of my self care. I educate constantly so I don’t get stagnant. I don’t like complacency or mediocrity. If you can be better, why not? I am always striving for better. I work on improving myself from the inside out.

10)  What does your ideal Sunday look like?


I sleep in. Coffee, either by the fire (in winter) or in the sun (summer), reading a book for enjoyment, spending quiet and relaxing time with my husband and my dogs, Titus (11) and Fergie (9). No time constraints. No appointments.


Internal clock wakes at 6 am. Coffee. Emails. Reading, but professional related. When my husband is home he makes sure I slow down.

I need to get out and walk the dogs more. I can really shut off.


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Finally, if you could sum up the last 10 years in 5 words what would you say?


Gratitude. Growth. Giving. – Care!

Just Be. Stop Trying! That was my mentor, Scott’s advice.

Let it begin with me.

You can be so much more to everyone else.


Thanks so much, Shara, for sharing your expertise and experience with us. I wish you continued success. I look forward to seeing what the next ten years have in store for you!


If you enjoyed this feature please share it and add to the conversation in the Comments. I’d love to hear from you. Tell us, how are you being bold with care?




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  1. Jillian Love
    Posted June 12, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    “Following your passion can be painful. It’s not always roses.” I love the reality check. The hard part often isn’t the personal challenge, it’s the ripple effect on those you love.

    • joanne
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. This is one of the bold with care dilemmas. At times, taking care of one’s own needs and desires will conflict with others. This will come up against what other people expect and our own expectations of how we take care of others in our our life.

      This journey is an ongoing practice.

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