Photo Credit: Brij Charan
Many who work in the fitness industry enjoy the good fortune of making a living doing something they're passionate about. And then there is Kyla Gagnon, who, when it comes to such good fortune, has hit the jackpot.
The 35-year-old Gagnon, an ISSA certified personal trainer based in Victoria, British Columbia, has partnered with fellow trainer Tiffany Breck to create a business called Yoga Fitness Escape, which offers fitness retreats in exotic locations.
Yes, yoga, fitness, and travel are three of Gagnon's passions. And she was still in a state of euphoria a week after returning from Bali, where the first two retreats, held in May, were a complete success.
"Things went perfectly; I don't know what I would have done differently," Gagnon said. "I have worked in fitness for 15 years and I always thought about how neat it would be to do a retreat. Last year just seemed like a perfect time. It was a lot of work preparing for it, but it was all enjoyable."
"And then the actual retreat went off so smoothly that we looked at each and said, 'How did that happen?' It just feels awesome to have such success doing something that is so exciting and rewarding."
Gagnon spent a month in Bali last year as part of her training to become a yoga instructor. It was while she was there that she asked Breck if she would be interested in coming back the following year to operate a retreat. Breck quickly was on board.
According to Gagnon, the first two-week-long retreats sold out within the first three weeks of promoting them. Clientele came from as far away as Australia.
Included in the packages are seven nights of accommodations; two meals and snacks a day prepared by a private chef; and daily yoga, fitness classes, and a one-hour massage.
The plan is to return to Bali next year and to add a retreat in the Greek Islands. Gagnon knows there is a world of possibilities out there.
Her love for travel has seen her take a yearly international trip throughout her adult life. She has been to India, Cambodia, Israel, Turkey, and Greece, among other destinations. She has Egypt, the countrysides of China and Japan, and the Philippines on her list of places she wants to visit.
The love for traveling came from her mother, Gagnon said. The same is true for her interest in fitness.
Gagnon was a competitive figure skater growing up but had to give up the sport when she was 13 due to the cost and time commitment. "I still miss it," she said.
She stayed active by doing fitness videos with her mom, and by the time she was ready to graduate high school she already knew she would like to have a career in the fitness industry. She soon became ISSA certified, and by the age of 21 was working full time as a trainer.
"I wanted to help people, I wanted to inspire and motivate, educate, and support," Gagnon said of her decision to become a trainer. "I wanted to believe in people so much that they began believing in themselves. What I didn't know was how inspired and motivated I would end up being. I work in-person and online with people around the globe to develop a life they are excited about in a body that moves them and supports them, and that they love."
Gagnon's other business is Victoria-based KylaFit, which offers personal and online training and yoga sessions. Her blog also includes topics that tap into the emotional and spiritual side of wellness and fitness. It's something that has a place in Yoga Fitness Escape as well.
To that end, Gagnon said she wants people attending the retreats to be open to the idea of "exploring their authentic selves."
"I want people to cry if they want to cry, I want them to talk about hard things they live with on a day-to-day basis that perhaps they feel like they can't talk about at home," she said. "We live in such a high-pressure society, it's nice to distance yourself from that and surround yourself with people who have no opinions or pressures or judgements on you. It's nice to just feel like you can be who you are without the pressure."
Gagnon said she intends to continue to explore the holistic aspect of fitness and wellness as her career progresses.
That, too, is one of her passions. A left arm tattooed from shoulder to hand helps tell that story.
"It started with one little vision," Gagnon said. "I wanted to get the image of the Indian God Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. I met with a tattoo artist, one thing led to another, and I ended up with a whole arm."
The overriding message in her work and in her body art is to give yourself what you need to be happy, to think positively, live healthily, and enjoy what life has to offer.
"Learn to breathe," she said. "Sit in stillness and learn to truly appreciate your body for what it is and not so much for how shredded it is."
Are you passionate about health and fitness as well? Interested in expanding your knowledge and helping others achieve a healthier life? Check the ISSA's personal training course to begin expanding your future today!
Start your dream career completely online! Take the course, pass the certification final exam, and be guaranteed a job - or your money back!