Building Body And Soul

Edmonton trainer and body builder Shara Vigeant, confronts the fitness industry's dark side: eating disorders

Building Body And Soul

749628116Shara Vigeant, is a force to be reckoned with. At the gym, her voice echoes with conviction; her passion for helping others is palpable. From her post as owner of SVPT Fitness & Athletics, Vigeant has accumulated an impressive list of accomplishments. From coaching professional MMA fighters to helping everyday people reach their fitness goals, Shara puts everything she has into her work. But her journey hasn’t been easy.

“I grew up overweight and unhealthy,” says Vigeant. In college, she decided to take up bodybuilding. After dramatically changing her body, she began competing, but she also began obsessing over food, bingeing alone, and then over-exercising. Her relationship with food had taken a sharp detour and pushed her to a point of total exhaustion.

“I was broken, literally broken,” she says. “I needed to go get help and to get my mind right about food and figure out where it was all coming from.”

Therapy helped her determine that her intense training regime had led to a body image disorder, which in turn triggered an eating disorder. She recovered, opened her own gym in 2008, which would later morph into SVPT Fitness. “Once I started getting healthier and fitter I felt better, happier, my confidence went through the roof. When I found that out I just wanted to teach people how to do it on their own.”

Since then, the 39-year-old has dedicated her life to helping others get fit and healthy, the right way. She doesn’t just want to educate the public; Vigeant believes the fitness industry needs to be more sensitized. “Trainers can help clients get fitter and healthier without inspiring body image and eating disorders,” she says. “We need to be more aware of what we are doing to our clients with the messaging that we are sending.” Vigeant has built her brand from the ground up, stepping in as a strength and conditioning coach for a number of professional MMA fighters and a variety of other athletes. “It’s been a tough road because it’s such a male dominated profession,” says Vigeant. “It’s actually only made me want to be better. Because if someone tells you you can’t do something, it’s almost like you want to do it better.”

Professional UFC Fighter, Mitch Clarke, says Vigeant has helped him in more ways than just being a great strength and conditioning coach, “she’s always been there for business advice and mentoring, as well as being a friend that always seems to be there.” Maintaining a personal relationship with her athletes is a key component of her training style. “I create a good friendship with a lot of my athletes, because it is important,” she says. “You go through a lot of good and bad times with these athletes and you need to be there with them emotionally.”

February 1-7 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and on February 3rd, Shara is taking time to speak at a symposium hosted by the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta. Through her seminar she hopes to inspire the fitness community to take an active role in the eating habits of their clients. “Rather than just pounding out reps every day and making people sweat, we want to create healthy people, from a mind-body perspective,” says Vigeant.

Courtesy of: Edmonton Woman Magazine

Lori Braun
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Lori Braun
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