Canada / Empowerment / Lifestyle / Montreal / Surf / Thoughts

Game changer: How Erika Drolet helped me transform my life.

The first time I surfed and stood up on a surfboard was over 10 years ago in Tofino, BC, I was originally going to move there but for personal reasons I ultimately decided to return to Montreal. I didn’t surf again until 2017 while traveling through Portugal. I was always interested in surfing as I was a board-sport girl – skateboarding and snowboarding since my early teens but was a bit of a partier and long time smoker who lacked the discipline of consistent training. After living briefly in the mountains of a ski village called Sun Peaks, I visited friends in Tofino where I had my first taste of surfing in the ocean…but it wasn’t until I was bumming around Morocco that I fell madly in love with surfing. After my first trip to Morocco I returned to Montreal, an office job awaiting me, transitioning from design to marketing in the apparel industry. I was reluctant to return to that lifestyle but my savings were low and I was excited about the job. I was grateful and blessed for it but something was missing. Something that had revealed itself on my travels, a taste of real living. Something I had experienced as a nomad before but this was different; a life I truly desired, filled with sunshine, adventures and fulfillment. Rather than a temporary ‘vacation’ from life I was looking for it to become my actual daily life. During my return to Montreal I met Erika, but at the time, I didn’t realize the impact she would have on my life later.

The Montreal Surf Scene.

An opportunity presented itself to return to Morocco involved in surfing so I said fuck it and took the leap. But before heading back there I discovered and sought out the local surf scene in Montreal, I always knew about the wave at H67 but never ventured out to try it until recently. There were some surf community block parties, and some premiere events for a series being presented by OuiSurf at the time. I had been following Ouisurf on Instagram along with The Salty Souls and founder Erika Drolet. I found her truly inspiring. She was living her life without hesitation, something I struggled with on occasion (and still struggle with.)

At one of the premieres, I saw her there and decided to talk to her. It was strange to feel nervous to talk to another woman but her cool laidback attitude intimidated me, I admired her (I still do!). So with the help of a friend, we called her over and chatted a bit. I asked her for advice, about taking that big leap into the unknown and the surf industry in general. She was a typical surfer, cool as expected, and gave me some solid advice which to be honest I can’t recall looking back, but knowing her now I know it was beyond useful. I felt confident about the next steps in life, leading me to the life I truly desired. To this day I still carry the sticker I picked up at the The Salty Souls Episode premiere event. It sits on my desk to remind me daily to keep my vision alive.

Below is the OuiSurf series Surf Inc. featuring The Salty Souls Experience. I will never forget the feeling watching this premiere and thinking this is going to be my new life. I felt like I was dreaming and didn’t want to wake up.

OuiSurf – Surf Inc. EP 05 – Salty Souls Experience

A bad wake up call: Covid, Pandemic life and Mental Health

So a few months later, I flew to Morocco on what to be honest was a pretty naive and maybe even impulsive move but a necessary one. I continued to follow Erika and Salty Souls on Instagram, continued to be inspired and guided in what was becoming my new life. I joined The Salty Club off and on, I loved their content, it was inspiring and useful as I continued to learn and progress as a surfer. I was always liking, sending little messages and high fives via DM. Erika, bless her, responded to every message – regardless if she even remembered me.

I had some personal troubles during my time in Morocco and was struggling with my mental health. Depression and anxiety has been a lifelong struggle for me to balance, some triggers and personal tramas throwing me into whirlwinds of those extremes. I then got paralyzed with indecision, hesitating on some choices…floating back and forth like a feather…and as we all know what happened in March 2020. Boom! Covid. I got stuck in Morocco when they suddenly shut their borders overnight and I had no choice but to stay until I sorted out what would become an extremely difficult return to Canada. As much as I didn’t want to leave Morocco, it had become home to me, I really didn’t have a choice at this point. The universe had decided for me. I was in an awkward in-between and had to leave regardless of what I wanted. As more expats started to leave, the lack of cashflow, family issues, my general anxiety and state of the world, my mental health had deteriorated significantly. I knew I needed to return to Canada and get things sorted. As I watched Erika’s stories on Instagram, they matched similar to my experience in some ways as she returned to Canada, how her business had been affected and she was stuck in a developing country that was not her home country as well. Her videos and posts gave me comfort in that someone who I admired, shared those difficulties but with such positivity and authenticity.

A self portrait taken during lockdown in the Moroccan countryside.

Upon returning to Montreal, I hustled my ass to get a full time contract and two smaller freelance clients. I went from no work to almost 80 hour work weeks, I managed to get myself together within 6 months. CERB during covid was not an option for me and with rising inflation, I had no choice but to grind for it. This transition was hard but held so much growth for me – I used the The Salty Club to stay fit, with HIIT workouts and online yoga sessions. I also sought treatment for my mental health and joined a 10 week intense DBT therapy as suggested by my doctor. Anyone struggling with emotional regulation, and disorders like OCD, ADHD, BPD, PTSD, etc. or in general anyone looking for better coping mechanisms through difficult moments in life, I highly recommend Clinic 308 and their DBT programs, I didn’t see it at the time but it was also life changing.

By the time, I finished my therapy and cut down my workload and sadly one of my favourite clients, I was exhausted and a bit burnt out from Quebec’s extreme lockdowns, spending a long winter in the basement with no sunlight. When my friends who recently moved to California, invited me to visit and stay with them for awhile, I humbly accepted. My longing for the beach and surfing was gratefully blessed while being with my best friend in what seemed like a fantasy. It was while visiting California I reconnected with Erika virtually.

One of the incredible sunsets from my room in California, overlooking Carmel by the Sea. Photo Credit: ©Susan Paige @susanpaigephotography

Erika Drolet: Coach & Personalized Training

Since I was a member of The Salty Club, I was loving the training course offered there and used them almost daily. Surf and Yoga Training, Empowerment and other goodies for ladies like me. But found myself sore and inconsistent. My daily computer work and an old SI joint injury made my workouts difficult to balance between pain and overdoing it. I would workout intensely and then sit for hours on end, resulting in flare ups and debilitating pain that prevented walking and simple movements, forget even surfing. I also had been trying to make some decisions, take action in my life, and progress my surfing as well as my work as a photographer. Erika had mentioned her personal training and life coaching on her IG account @erika_drolet and I looked into it. Finally, after some hesitation (my biggest vice) I reached out and sent an email. I knew I needed help to get back to achieving my dream life and since most people had a hard time understanding what I wanted I knew she would understand. She was living the life I wanted to live in some ways.

Erika Drolet Surfing // Photo Credit: ©June Swimwear @juneswimwear
Erika Drolet Skateboarding // Photo Credit: ©Pauline Mathiot IG: @paulinematy

Her first email was a few simple questions – at first I thought “really?’, honestly I was a little skeptical, I quickly answered and kinda rethought the whole idea. But after I sent the email I drove down to the beach and surfed, charging harder than I ever had. It was one of my best days surfing to date. I knew it was a sign. I also re-examined her one question over and over again in my head. It confirmed that I needed this training. We signed up for a 3 month block and started immediately. She created a custom workout plan that suited my needs, and goals as a surfer but also in general. We slowly trained me, building consistency while preventing injuries instead of my usual go hard or go home approach, we had biweekly check ins and live workouts. She asked the right questions for me, reviewed my progress and adjusted my plan as needed. We worked on interval training and reviewed the data, she managed my training to my lifestyle and what I wanted to do. Erika also pushed me to go a little harder, without shame when I couldn’t always achieve those goals. Understanding the data analysis really helped to break down my progress into measurable results. It also helped me set new goals and challenges going forward or when I might need to adjust according to other aspects in my external life of training.

Smiling snapshot from Erika’s Insta Account // Photo Credit : ©Jennica Lowell @jennicalowell

Self Limiting beliefs & the Psychology of Training

The biggest life changing transition and growth I gained from working with Erika, was changing the self belief that I couldn’t run. In 36 years I always had the understanding I couldn’t run, mostly I blamed it on being an ex-smoker and poor lung capacity, but with Erika’s help that changed forever. It was simple, I was running too fast, that was it. I was sprinting and couldn’t run longer than a kilometer before giving up. It was those bursts of energy and emotion in my training that left me inconsistent and at risk of injury. The second game changer was my habit of going hard when I was stressed or anxious when in reality I needed more calm. More “yin” as she said. Finally, the importance of stretching after running more so, stretching my hip flexors in general. Erika helped me regain my self cofidence in ways I didn’t understand previously. The act of just showing up is the biggest obstacle to overcome. We began to focus on the psychology behind my fears and self sabotage. She offered books and podcasts that help understand what was preventing my personal growth and when I keep hitting those “glass ceilings”. I began recognizing my triggers and those self limiting beliefs, those glass ceiling moments but also the results of my hard work. The combination with her training and my recent therapy launched me into a new person I didn’t really recognize. I stopped smoking completely and reverted to running and yoga when I needed that release. Although I am still progressing to the woman I aim to be, I accept who I am more than ever, while still focusing on being my “best me”.

Even the people you admire the most, wake up scared to be themselves some days…

One of Erika’s favourite quotes

Erika not only trained me in the physical realm but also mentally, demonstrating the value behind breathing exercises, and different meditation techniques. We did some meditation retreats together offered by Living Inspired, which I highly recommend checking out as well. Which not only helped calm my nerves or settle my thoughts but also useful in surfing and overcoming fear in and out of the water and find my “happy place”. We worked on other belief systems that needed breaking down, my views on relationships, my internal dialogue, an overall getting out of my head and into my body. She really re-inforced the necessary benefits of movement from the mind. As a creative mind, I tend to get stuck in my head when I am not expressing and focusing that energy in healthy way. She taught me how to release that energy and what physical movements will help release that stuck energy. Combined with the knowledge passed onto me from my amazing Osteopath Keshia Reeves, I now really understand where tension in the body is created and how to release it which has been the ultimate game changer in mental and physical healing for me.

Water Woman Erika Drolet // Photo Credit: ©Dom Granger @domgranger

Benefits of hiring a Coach

Hiring Erika was the best decision I think I have made in this lifetime. Finding someone who inspires you, leading a life you aim to achieve and someone outside of your personal circle is a huge game changer. It allows an outside neutral person, peek into your life, goals, habits, vices and helps you take a logical factual approach to the physical and mental tasks needed for transformation and moving towards the life you truly desire. A coach is there to cheer you on and empower you but also tell you the turth and what you are doing wrong. Not in critical way of shaming but rather a way to change those necessary habits in order to reach your goals and gain the outcome you hire them to help you attain. A great coach knows what questions to ask, and choosing someone who specializes in the genre of sport, lifestyle or industry you want to enter or progress in, is absolutely the best investment you can make in yourself and your future to live that dream life. I am still a work in progress and although I have paused my training with Erika for an undetermined amount of time, the benefits still help me manage my downtimes and keep physical even when proven difficult. I am still working towards my goals and finding that balance where I can. I still run and practice my yoga & meditation daily but it is time I start ramping up the more intense training. Sometimes life moves in cycles, but now instead of berating myself, I have gained patience to know I will get back into the necessary phase of training as needed.

Sunrise Surf Selfie in Central California.

Salty Souls, The Salty Club & Training with the Pros

As mentioned I have been a Salty Club member for years now and although I don’t always use it I do love keeping the access to it, the content is great for those looking for specialized training that is surf specific and driven towards women. Their Salty Club podcast is great place to find discussions about all sorts of topics not just restricted to surfing, the Salty Souls retreats (although I have never been on them) have inspired me for years and partially what led me in my experiences within the surf industry. Since joining, the app has grown so much since it was first developed. A great tool for any female surfer but also just a great workout tool. I am loving their new series “Move & Breathe with the Pros” a series of videos with Professional Athletes in various domains. I have written about one featured Sound Bath and interview with Kassia Meador to be posted shortly. I had a good friend who is a professional athlete and I miss training with him, when I was surrounded by surf instructors and surf professionals while in Morocco who taught me so much. So it is a great series to virtually surround myself with that professional and motivating knowledge again.

Join the Club

Anyone looking for some great surf training and motivating women to connect with, I highly suggest joining the Salty Club even for the free trial, with great training for breathing (great for those looking to surf bigger waves), post surf and post run stretches, ginastica and so much more! I believe they offer a free 7-day trial for first time users. Anyone looking to make a massive change in their life, I also suggest getting a personal coach to help achieve those outcomes. Whether Erika or otherwise, I can guarantee if you show up and do the work, it literally will change your life in more ways than just your workout plan.

Check the Salty Club here or download the app on either Apple or Android.

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