For years Cindy Butt, the owner-operator of FarOut Fitness, a studio that focuses on women’s health and wellness, never thought she was athletic.
She wasn’t good at team sports, so she wasn’t active.
It was only when she discovered fun, non-competitive ways to get moving that her passion for fitness was born.
As a Junior High French language teacher, Cindy saw the same lack of activity she’d experienced most of her life in the kids who didn’t like team sports.
So, she decided to take her own growing love of fun, funky, fitness and use it to help her students get moving.
She had them hula hooping, line dancing, using resistance balls, and doing yoga. She even initiated active art sessions—such as painting the whole periodic table on one of her classroom walls and the Arc de Triomphe on another.
“The kids needed it,” says Cindy, “and they loved it.”
The more active Cindy became with her students, the more she realized her own love and need of regular movement in her life.
Cindy started teaching fitness and wellness outside of school, and not just for kids.
It became her mission.
At the time, Cindy’s social circle wasn’t very active. She started seeking out people who liked non-team sports – hiking, skiing, snowshoeing. Now, everyone she knows is active.
Around this time she also met her partner, Cam, who loves to spend time on the ocean, hiking, basically anything outdoors – campfires, camping, swimming.
“I realized how much it helped me,” says Cindy, “without realizing the whole mental health issue.”
Cindy has a B.A , B.Ed, and M. Ed.
She also discovered she has BPII, ADHD and SAD.
That’s a lot of acronyms in her life, but she views them as all contributing to what she calls her superpower.
“It was a freaking journey,” she says of learning about these diagnoses and learning how to live with them. But she had a lot of help, and still does.
“I remember at one point I was experiencing many ups and downs,” she says, “and Cam asked, ‘What can I do when this happens?’” She told him to get her outside.
“A lot of people, me moreso, need to be outside and be active in order to function well,” says Cindy, “And a lot of people need to eat well to function and learn.”
This realization made her role as a teacher harder and harder. It became difficult for her to see what students were eating in the cafeteria or see them forced to sit at their desks for so long.
Many of her students were stooped over in their chairs, already developing hunches from inactivity. It seemed what was most important to her students’ well-being was being ignored and Cindy could see the affects on their mental health.
She did what she could, but there were limits within the school system. The standard curriculum, of course, had to come first.
These roadblocks and her inability to help her students have the consistently active lives they needed, began to take their toll on Cindy.
Her hair started to break, she developed stomach issues, and had trouble sleeping.
“I looked like an agitated zombie, with no sleep but at the same time hyper-minded,” says Cindy. “I wasn’t able to do what I knew I was supposed to do,” which made her feel like a hypocrite.
In 2010, in the midst of a breakdown, Cindy stopped work due to sickness and then took a leave of absence from teaching.
“Everyone thought I was going crazy,” says Cindy, “which I was.”
Leaving teaching was a scary step that left Cindy panicked. “I didn’t know how I was going to make money and pay my bills and have a meltdown all at the same time,” says Cindy.
But she clung to her newly discovered mission with a refined focus – the belief that getting moms and ladies to embrace fitness and wellness was the best way send her newfound love into the world.
“If moms and ladies are doing it,” says Cindy, “they tell everyone, they tell kids.”
They spread the word.
When Cindy had been a school-teacher, her paid fitness endeavours started out as “just fun.” Her ‘coffee-money’ and a non-traditional way to help people laugh and move.
She and her partner, Cam, started doing salsa performances, belly dancing performances, and hula hooping workshops. They also sold decorated ‘hot-hoops.’
Next, she rented a school gym and started teaching multiple times a week. “It was moving toward the thing that I could do and my only answer at the time,” says Cindy.
Just about the time her two year leave of absence was spent and she had to decide whether to go back to teaching or pursue the business full time, she sat down with her partner to come up with an official name for the business by thinking of all the things that felt like ‘her.’
Words that came to mind were weird, strange, special, fun, funky, and far out.
They put those last two words together and FarOut Fitness was born: A safe, welcoming environment where Cindy turns women onto fitness that’s never boring.
So many people struggle to be active, says Cindy, and they don’t always know what to do at a gym. They torture themselves, counting down the minutes to just get through their workouts.
At FarOut Fitness, Cindy strives to create an atmosphere of excitement where people feel their workouts fly by.
To contribute to this, she only hires instructors she believes will bond with students, helping them feel they belong not just to a gym, but to a community.
In recent years, Cindy’s biggest passion in fitness has shifted to working with new moms. She loves to see the way moms who would otherwise be at home feeling isolated “light up about fitness” and make connections.
She even hired babysitters to be in the space so mommies can get their workout in, knowing their kids are right there, safely doing their own thing.
Running your own business is never easy, and often stressful. But the enjoyment and motivation Cindy sees from her ladies’ success, helps keep her going.
That and making sure she spends time on self-care, with a focus on both mental and physical health. If she doesn’t, she says “I would be living in a shell of my life and not the whole person that I can be.”
She has a list of strategies to help her ward off the hard times.
She eats well. She monitors the amount of sleep she’s getting, and she spends time doing activities that help relax her mind if it’s going “crazy and hyper,” such as crocheting mini-kettlebells.
“It’s a focused activity that I can calm my mind with in the evenings,” says Cindy. “I don’t care what they look like. They’re really cute; extremely imperfect.”
Most importantly, she makes sure she spends a lot of time outside and a lot of time with her family. “I don’t operate well and they don’t operate well if we don’t all work together,” says Cindy.
Reflecting on the path she’s taken over the past decade, Cindy sees that in order to be healthy and teach, she had to leave teaching.
Now she’s reaching a bigger audience. She still works in schools through wellness grants for mental and physical health, and she’s creating a community where parents and kids learn to love fitness together.
Want to learn more about Cindy’s own brand of funky, fun, fitness? Visit the FarOut Fitness Website for information on classes, personal training and registration or Follow FarOut Fitness on Facebook.
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