My name is Kaori, a mother, wife, and personal fitness trainer for women, living in Toronto. I actually spent nearly 20 years in the hospitality industry as an event- and catering- manager, but in 2019, while recovering from my second hip surgery, I began studying to obtain a certification as a personal fitness trainer. I became accredited in April 2020, and began my new career at age 49. Some may think it’s absolutely crazy to make a career-pivot at my age (I turned 50 recently), but I am truly grateful to have made this professional transformation. Through my business, Daily Flex, I have the privilege of helping women 30+ to regain their fitness strength in spite of an uncomfortable and often unruly process of aging, namely perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
Life in my 40s was turbulent – I was freshly divorced with a young son and a mother to take care of with no other blood relative in this country. I felt like I had to stay focused on bringing food to the family’s table. I literally had no time to ‘dream big’ about my life. It was also around this time that I began to feel more jaded about my career too.
As an event planner, it was my job to bring a client’s vision of their celebration into life, and execute it successfully. It was fun and rewarding for many years but in my 40s, I began to suffer from burnout, mentally sickened by all the pomp and superficiality that were sadly a part of many large-sized event planning. I yearned to make a meaningful impact to better others’ lives, and it was my hip surgery (and leave-of-absence from work) that gave me the much-needed time to go back to school to get me to where I am today.
In my 40s, I had gone through quite a challenging shift physically, starting off with the worsening of my congenital hip dysplasia. Distance running was once my go-to exercise, but in 2013 (when I was 42) my hip joints had deteriorated to the bone-on-bone osteoarthritis, requiring surgery. From there, it was a downward spiral of significant weight gain that further exasperated my arthritic pain, not to mention that it wasn’t until 2018 before I had my first hip surgery. My career in the events sector continued to be physically demanding, and having to work in constant pain became mentally detrimental.
Desperate to regain control of my own body, I sought the help of a personal trainer in 2016 – the first ‘coach’ I had actually hired as an adult. After spending all my life as a ‘self-directed’ and ‘independent’ woman, the whole idea of hiring a coach took some mindset adjustment. But I allowed myself to be guided, to trust, and chose to rebuild my fitness so I can best prepare my body for the upcoming surgeries. It was this experience that inspired me to pursue a certification as a personal trainer myself – not only did my coach help me get back into shape, she did so IN SPITE OF my physical setback. I wanted to become THAT person who can help other women in a meaningful way.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
I feel I am most powerful in two contrasting ways. I feel most powerful whenever my clients tell me how they’re beginning to feel stronger and healthier over the course of training with me. Seeing these amazing women surprise themselves of their own newly restored fitness, improved mobility and elevated stamina, is incredibly energizing for me personally! On a more personal level, I also feel most powerful when I can truly allow myself to hear my own inner voice honestly. It’s a skill that took almost my entire life, and I have to continue working on it. But taking that courage to acknowledge my feelings, mental roadblocks and challenges — DOES make me feel powerful.
What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?
- Being the best mom, wife and daughter to my family.
- Inspiring my amazing clients to discover their own awesome power to transform their health and fitness.
- Being kinder to myself to bring greater peace in my soul. I’ve finally realized, at age 50, that I need some healing from inside, and that it’s ok to prioritize me.
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I map out my short- and long- range plan of actions, and ensure that each action has a purpose towards my goals. I am also consciously taking more time to listen more than I speak. I am also working towards not being afraid of slowing down from time to time, and take the time to celebrate many small wins.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
I used to be such a loner-type, but now reach out to other women through my business IG account, @dailyflexfit . I use my platform not only as a networking and prospect-sourcing purposes, but also as a place to genuinely ignite a vision of stronger, healthier possibilities in my followers. I’m also planting seeds for the future by continuing with my studies, obtaining additional certifications for my field so I can be a better coach for my clients.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
Don’t ever let your age and others’ perception of age and security CAP your potential! It’s always easier said than done, but do believe firmly that you are stronger and smarter and more creative than you think right now! As frightening as it may be to even think of transforming yourself in midlife, it’s worth giving a shot than to live with regret of “what could have been-s” for the rest of your life.