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Jaime Filer, Editor

How Nichelle Laus Transformed Her Life and Made a Career Out of Transforming Others.

It can be said that the fitness industry, by and large, turns out a lot of the same product; whether it’s supplements, bodybuilding shows, or even fitness models, there’s a formula for how things are done and how they’re run. Every once in a while, however, there’s a company, or a competition, or a personality, that completely breaks the mold.

Nichelle Laus is one of those public figures that seems to have been cut from a different cloth than her colleagues in the industry. On the outside, she’s your typical blonde bombshell. And your typical mom of four. And your typical go-getter entrepreneur. And typical competitive kickboxer—maybe upon further review, there’s nothing typical about Nichelle at all. Her journey begins in her youth, when she was subject to severe physical trauma by an abusive stepfather. While some would use this as a (valid) excuse to roll over, find an unhealthy vice, or even just give up on life, Nichelle used this experience as a catalyst for change. At 14, after seven years of abuse, she finally said enough was enough and decided to take control of her life. Unfortunately, things had to get worse before they got better; the police found out about the situation and got involved, which only drew negative attention to her and her family. This affected her grades, her popularity at school, and, despite being one of the best athletes, her sport performance.

She sunk into an all-time low but knew she needed to claw her way out. She’d been a survivor once; it was time to draw from that strength again. Although she was always athletic growing up, she now craved something more physically challenging that would also empower her and give her the skills to defend herself, should anything happen to her again. Enter the world of kickboxing. While on a routine stroll down the streets of Montreal where she grew up, Nichelle stumbled upon a dirty, grungy kickboxing studio. To say it was love at first sight was an understatement—she was a natural-born killer in the ring.

“Literally from that first class in kickboxing, my world changed. That’s why, even now, I’m so passionate about it. I was allowed to channel my negative energy into positive energy by pounding the f— out of that bag.”

—Nichelle on kickboxing

Her coach knew nothing about her past or why she had ended up at his gym, but he didn’t need to; he saw her potential and coached her to be one of the elite athletes in the gym in a short period of time. It was there that her passion, ambition, and physical fitness flourished. She started competing but couldn’t go too far because she had to help support her single mom. So she worked a series of part-time jobs and eventually got a job as a police officer in order to “give back and change the world.” School and kickboxing were her life in Quebec until she moved to Ontario in 2000. It was there that she worked in the police force and met Dave Laus, photographer extraordinaire and fellow cop.

“Not only does Dave love me uncon-ditionally, but he is there every step of the way and supports all my crazy ideas.”

—Nichelle on her husband, Dave

Once she started having kids, Nichelle realized that kickboxing and boxing were too much of a time commitment but also too potentially dangerous. Now a mom, she felt her priorities shifting and knew she had to be there for her family. She went to her best friend’s fitness model show and, on a whim, decided it was something she wanted to try. Her first show was in 2005, and she fell in love with the process. Competing is always her go-to when she feels stressed, so needless to say, she thrives on the discipline required for the physique sport and also found that it was compatible with her lifestyle.

But her life doesn’t stop there—she’s also a coach. She’s been training women for going on seven years, and she prides herself not only on the number of competitors she’s put onstage but also, more importantly, on the number of women whose lives she’s transformed by empowering them in the gym through strength training. She appeals to all different types of women, because she herself wears a number of different hats, so whether you relate to her as a fitness model, competitor, mother, or entrepreneur, Nichelle has a lifestyle-training program for everyone from any walk of life.

“I like the lifestyle transformations because while the hardcore crowd is really nice, they’re too hard on themselves. With the transformations, everything is just easier. They’re enjoying the journey more, they love their body at every stage, and there’s less stress. As soon as you change that mentality into competition prep, they start beating them-selves up.”

—Nichelle on transformations

Nichelle says there aren’t any secrets or shortcuts to getting everything done. She has the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, but she’s superb at multitasking and prides herself on how hard she grinds. Nothing was ever handed easily to this woman, and she doesn’t take any of her success for granted. She knows that if you want something done, you give it to a busy person, and she is definitely that proverbial “busy person.” Nichelle acknowledges that organizing her life and work and prioritizing family are paramount to her success, and that knowledge and her “no excuses, no bullshit” attitude are what have gotten her this far. So next time you see Nichelle in her posing suit, just remember that not every superhero wears a cape.

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