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By Flow Water

Fight like a girl.

In positive psychology, flow refers to the feeling of being totally in the zone. It’s when you are so deeply involved in an activity of enjoyment and creativity that you lose track of time. Our #BeintheFlow blog series explores how real and inspiring people overcome adversity to find their flow – and this week, badass Caleigh Rykiss fits the bill. Read her story below.

I’m Caleigh and I’m the founder and CEO of BodyLove Inc – a new social and fitness hybrid facility in Toronto. The facility has three components,  a café, a gym and a blow bar. At the heart of BOLO – as I’m sure most can deduce from the name – is an emphasis on self-love, and each of the three pillars of the business are ways we encourage people to express their love. For example – we want people to challenge themselves at the gym because they love themselves, as opposed to a desire to punish or change themselves. We want people to nourish their bodies out of love and not from a place of fear, stress, anxiety or deprivation. And we want members to pamper themselves at the salon out of love and not out of a feeling of unworthiness. So, BodyLove is a house where positive body image is a main focus.

If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be in a place where I would open a facility that encouraged others to improve their relationships with their bodies – I would have called you crazy. See, for most of my life I have had extremely complicated and at times destructive feelings towards myself and my body.

Coles notes: In my ’20s I became highly addicted to fitness – I trained twice, sometimes three times a day – all in hopes of finding a reason to love myself. But I didn’t. I trained harder and harder and harder and ate progressively less and less – no matter how much weight I lost or how much I did, it was never enough.

But, all the abuse stopped one day when my body decided to quit. I woke up one morning and it just didn’t work anymore – I had abused my body to the point where it broke. My hormones shut off – I developed a few serious conditions – had to go on disability from work and basically spent a year either in bed or in the hospital. I’ll spare you the details on what exactly went wrong – but looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

It forced me to really look deep inside myself and ask the tough question: Did I want to spend the rest of my life at odds with my body – fighting against it – muscling it into being something it didn’t want to be, doing things it didn’t want to do? The answer was, no.

While my body was recovering, I realized that I did have a deep and real love for fitness – in fact, training a small amount every day was something that helped keep my spirits up and give me purpose while I was sick. I began to realize that movement was a tool that could make me more powerful and feel good, inside out. I started listening to my body and giving it what it needed. I started to appreciate what my body could do. That’s when I started to find my flow.

My flow now lives in sharing my journey with the world, having honest conversations with other women about “the struggle,” and inspiring others to feel good about themselves. I feel most in the flow when I’m leading fitness classes that make others feel strong, powerful and badass; when I see people underestimating themselves less and loving themselves more. I feel most in the flow when I’m in the space I created where people can come and give back to their bodies, in a supportive, inclusive and non-judgmental environment. I feel most in the flow at BOLO – and I hope others will find their flow there too.