|Erica Willick before and after photos. (Courtesy Erica Willick) |
After giving birth to her first child, Erica Willick took a close look at her post-baby body.
And she didn’t like what she saw.
“I was very down on my self-image,” she tells Keeping Fit by phone from London, Ont. “I was very down about my body. And it really tore me up that I was like that around my new, beautiful baby.”
As Willick revealed in an online post: “I have a history of mental illness, and loved my son too much to slip into that darkness.”
By her own admission, the five-foot-three corporate financial controller wasn’t horribly out of shape.
“I put 35 pounds on with the baby, but that’s very normal,” she adds.
Yup, an average mom with an average weight gain during pregnancy. Problem was, she didn’t want to be average anymore. She aspired to be a fit mom.
That was in 2010. Around that time, as fate would have it, one of Willick’s sisters gave her a copy of Oxygen, a women’s fitness magazine that Willick had never heard of before.
“I just fell in love with what I saw in that magazine,” she recalls.
Inspired and determined, Willick set a goal of competing in a regional fitness contest in 2011.
En route to taking her body to “the next level,” as she calls it, Willick educated herself about weight training and nutrition by burying her nose in fitness magazines and books. Then she put her new knowledge to practice in the gym and kitchen.
“I knew I needed to do this for my son,” she explains. “And that was my reason that kept me going.”
Although she says progress seemed to come slowly in the beginning, Willick’s body responded well to her new regimen and she competed as planned.
“I didn’t win,” she notes. “But it fostered the belief that my many perceived limits and imperfections were simply those I had put on myself. And I could take them down … one push, squat and lift at a time.”
Willick forged ahead and soon found success with Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE), a natural North American organization.
She earned back-to-back titles in the pro bikini category at the UFE North American Championships in 2012 and ’13.
Meanwhile, Willick amazingly had ended up appearing in Oxygen magazine a mere 18 months after her sister gave her that copy.
And in the time between her two UFE titles, the 115-pound fitness model had gone on to become a regular fixture in the monthly Ontario-based publication. Willick appeared in nearly a year’s worth of consecutive issues before the magazine’s parent company filed for bankruptcy last June after struggling in the wake of the April 2012 death of founding publisher Robert Kennedy.
And then a funny thing happened.
Not long after news broke of the bankruptcy (and before Oxygen was purchased by a California company), Willick teamed up with a like-minded mom she had met through social media to launch their own digital women’s fitness magazine. It’s called GORGO and it went live Nov. 1.
“We have an app that shows through people’s Newsstand on their iPhone and it’s a very nice read,” Willick says. “It’s not like a flip or a pinch-in-pinch-out thing. It’s just a really pleasurable read on mobile.”
Serving as GORGO’s CEO, Willick draws from her experience with Oxygen, including writing, photo shoots and production, as well as from her background as a financial controller and chartered accountant.
Her business partner, Valerie Solomon, is the Maryland fitness guru behind BusyMomGetsFit.com, a website that boasts close to 100,000 followers. Solomon serves as GORGO’s editor-in-chief.
Freelance photographers and writers contribute to the subscription-driven, ad-free magazine that derives its name from the ancient Spartan Queen, Gorgo.
“The magazine’s given us a platform to bring a voice that really isn’t there for women right now in fitness,” says Willick. “It’s just amazing how when you work really hard at something and you have a vision, opportunities come up and it can happen.”
Indeed, it’s been quite the fitness journey for Willick so far.
“It (fitness) has now become part of who I am,” says the 32-year-old mom pregnant with her second child. “I really have started to own this as a passion and a purpose to help other women do the same thing.”
Erica Willick has recently started offering online fitness challenges and online training through her Sisters In Shape community. Join Erica through her website at Sis In Shape or contact her through her email.
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