My name is Ally Sharpe and I am a personal trainer/strength coach in Peterborough, Ontario. My passion is helping women and young girls become strong, fit and healthy. I do women’s only personal training and small group classes inside an amazing gym called Hybrid – Fitness Health and Performance.
Here is my story
It started when I was 17. When I didn’t get accepted into the paramedic program in college, my lack of back up plan landed me back to highschool to do half of a victory lap while I was working at the Lakefield Esso. Upgrading my Chemistry wasn’t fun, but taking a Kinesiology class fueled my existing interest in exercise.
Before data plans, WiFi and Instagram, I used to read a ton of fitness magazines to kill time when I was working at the Esso. Read all the fitness magazines, eat candy, chips and McDonalds. Great combo eh? This quickly landed me a gym membership and a seat in some Weight Watchers meetings. (Side note: Have you ever been to one? I watched someone get a magnet for their weight loss after they had their appendix removed. That ain’t right!) Turns out when you begin excessively restricting calories, skipping meals, and obsessively exercising you can drop some weight pretty quickly. (Spoiler alert- it comes back later in this story)
When that time came to apply for college again – I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I did see a new program at Algonquin College called “Fitness and Health Promotion”.
I applied, got accepted and moved to Ottawa in the fall of 2007. My first job in the fitness world started at the Algonquin College Fitness Zone. I would do very general stuff like supervise the gym floor, turn the radio to country when I wanted people to leave, eat peanut butter mixed with oatmeal for dinner, talk to members, show people how to work the equipment, and write some pretty generic programs.
My second job in the fitness industry was training at the Women’s Only Goodlife Fitness in Barrhaven. I had to quit this job to move back to Peterborough to do a 6 week placement at a gym here. (Ironically it was that gym I joined turning my binge 5 cent candy eating days at the Esso) . I worked at this gym for almost 3 years and it was an amazing learning experience and I am very thankful for that.
In March of 2010, I started “Ally Sharpe’s Bootcamp“. I started with a small group of 8 women that quickly grew to 100 by November 2010. Over the next couple years, I expanded my training groups into small rural communities.
I became really busy and I was focusing so much on helping other people, that my own fitness and body composition suffered. So I hired a personal trainer.
But something wasn’t working- I wasn’t get any results. I was working out with her and the workouts were really hard. I was also going to the gym, bustin’ a sweat for 45 minutes on the elliptical everyday – just trying to burn more calories. At the same time, I noticed my cravings for sweet foods was absolutely unstoppable. I often found myself wiping off donut sprinkles off my clothes before walking in to teach a class. What the hell was this about? I knew better- but I literally couldn’t stop myself. This is how I began to understand the hormonal aspect of fitness and nutrition. I was stressed from work, personal relationships, not sleeping well, getting my ass handed to me in training sessions and then doing all this cardio – These were all stress inputs on my body. When you are stressed your body goes into fight or flight mode, holds onto body fat and makes you crave calorie/energy-dense foods.
What does this mean then? What did I just learn in school in my nutrition classes? A calorie is NOT a calorie. Calories are NOT equal. 100 calories from protein are metabolized very differently than 100 calories from carbohydrates. Its funny now because it seems so ridiculous; In WeightWatchers, I remembered a Blizzard from Dairy Queen being 22 points. But think of all the good healthy food you could eat for 22 points. Calories cannot possibly be equal when you are comparing Blizzards to fruits/vegetables/meat/healthy fats.
This was now an obsession. I read SO many blogs, books, etc. I wanted to know more about how food influences body composition, appetite, reward centres of the brain, decision making, regulation of body fat, etc. I realized a lot of the things I learned in school, text books and magazines were wrong. Very very wrong. And that’s just the hormonal response to food. There are so many other factors that we are learning more about everyday- like the Gut Microbiome. We are learning so much about the bacteria in our gut affecting our immune system and the connection between that and our brain. It’s truly remarkable how many things can happen in such a short period of time.
And that’s nutrition. I can’t even begin to describe the changes that are happening in the world of fitness. Just 8 short years ago, we were all standing on God’s Gift to Fitness – the BOSU – trying to work our core with every single thing we did at the gym.
After college, I thought I knew it all about exercise and nutrition. So I have decided to make an on-going commitment to staying on top of research and education. You can never stop learning. I truly love my clients. I love what I do.
I have been so fortunate to meet some amazing people in the last couple years and some have became really good friends of mine.
I have had so many cool opportunities – I’ve been on the Born Primal Podcast with Kendall Kendrick, I have bloggers send me their cookbooks. In 2014 I spent 5 months in Chico, California coaching at a JS Strength & Conditioning gym owned by my favorite Paleo cookbook author Sarah Fragoso and her husband John.
I am back in Peterborough for now – trying to bring a whole new approach to this town. Not enough fitness professionals are talking about the long game; Sustainability. I’m on a mission to help people make changes their health by bringing attention to the other variables:
- Appropriate exercise (intensity and movement) and injury prevention. Fix the weak links first.
- The importance of rest – You probably need more.
- Stress management is critical – How can you manage or fix these stressors?
- Spend MORE time doing things that you love to do now! You think you have time later- I promise you, you won’t.
- Getting quality sleep – Probably need more of this too!
- Understanding food and nutrition – From your food selection to the place is was grown.
Let’s do this!