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NEW JOURNEY – Canadian Paralympic champion Stephanie Dixon has begun a new journey to help empower others. The retired swimmer launched a new business last month called Stephanie Dixon Motivational Coaching and is accepting new clients. Photo courtesy of STEPHANIE DIXON

Paralympian finds path after retiring from sport

Ever since retiring from competitive sport in 2010, Stephanie Dixon has been looking for the next thing.

By Marissa Tiel on March 17, 2017

Ever since retiring from competitive sport in 2010, Stephanie Dixon has been looking for the next thing.

“The last five years have been very unsettling for me because I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to go down and would beat myself up a lot and think just pick something, what’s wrong with you,” says Dixon. “You’re a motivated person, figure it out.

“But I couldn’t figure it out because I didn’t want anything that was in existence.”

When she moved to Whitehorse in 2011 she started coaching the Glacier Bears Swim Club.

She’d stopped swimming competitively the year before and thought, “I will never coach in a million years. I don’t want to be on a pool deck anymore. I just want to do something different, kind of get out of the sporting world,” she says.

“Then I came up to the Yukon and the swim club was looking for a coach ... and kind of to my own disappointment [I] loved coaching.”

She stayed in the position for two years and since then has had her fingers in all sorts of pots.

She has been a Paralympic Committee ambassador, an athlete mentor with CIBC’s Team Next, the assistant chef de mission at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto and a broadcaster with CBC at the 2014 Sochi and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

She studied psychology at the University of Victoria and thought maybe she would be a sport psychologist.

She had also considered – though jokingly– moving to South America and having a fruit stand.

“There were lots of things twirling around in my brain, but nothing that caught me enough to jump,” she says.

Most recently, Dixon got her certifications to become a fitness coach and to teach group classes.

“I always thought it would be a stepping stone to what the next step would be,” she says. “Then it just touched my soul and I loved it.”

Enter Stephanie Dixon Motivational Coaching, the business Dixon officially launched in February.

“It just makes sense because then I can kind of work my own schedule and leave when I need to leave and not worry that I’m letting a team down,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to ask your boss for time off when it’s you.”

Now, her business combines all of her passions together. She’s in the business of empowerment.

“I basically wanted to be a professional mentor, but that job doesn’t exist, so I created it.”

Ever since she was young, she says she’s always found “joy and purpose” in helping others. She knew it was time to retire from competitive swimming when she started to care more about the younger athletes and their performances than her own.

But Dixon’s transition to her life after competition hasn’t been easy.

“I had trouble feeling am I going to be just a personal trainer?” she says. “After being Paralympic Champion, it felt like I wasn't doing enough with myself and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to any personal trainers out there, but I just felt like it didn’t have enough status and thats just my own ego and pressure and expectations from outside.”

But a shift of perspective and Dixon is thriving and enjoying her choice of career.

She mainly sticks to locales outside the gym, trying to catch people who slip through the cracks, that may not enjoy the gym, but want to improve their quality of life. She works with her clients on improving not just the physical aspects of their lives, but also psychological and emotional.

“I’m meeting people where they’re at,” she says.

Some parts of the business have led to surprises.

“When I started working with people one-on-one I realized how many women in particular are out there and struggling and not feeling like they have a place to talk about those struggles, especially women who look like they have it all together,” she says.

So she created a safe space, where women can meet and talk and learn from each other. The first registered Sister Tribe began in the New Year and there’s already a waiting list for the next session.

Dixon tries to lead by example and that means getting a little vulnerable herself, as well as having a healthy work-life balance.

Before, when she struggled with her life path, she told herself:

“When you find the right thing, you will jump and you'll have the confidence to jump and you'll jump with your whole body and heart and soul so just wait.

“It’s paid off. Just waiting until something felt right and this is it.”

Dixon is accepting new clients and can be connected with through her business’ Facebook Page, Stephanie Dixon Motivational Coaching, sdixon@uvic.ca or 335-1205.

Comments (1)

Up 2 Down 0

Matt on Mar 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Thumbs up!

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