Lisa Ladabie: Empowering the Valley through Fitness

In times of hardship and uncertainty we often look for people who empower us and encourage us to do good deeds and to become better people. In the age of comic book movies, it isn’t hard for most people to turn on their TV’s or go to the theater where you can witness your favorite superhero doing heroic deeds, defeating the villain, and saving the world. Others seek a more grounded example of empowerment and will look through history books to read about the sacrifices of those who came before us and built the world in which we live today. However, finding these noble figures surprisingly doesn’t take much searching at all. In fact, some of the most inspiring people can be found in our very own community. 

Lisa Labadie is a civilian trainer operating out of Dundonald Hall (DDH) at CFB Petawawa, Ontario and is also the Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Pembroke Boxing Club (PBC) in Pembroke, Ontario. Her credentials include being certified with Canfitpro having over a decade’s worth of knowledge and experience under her belt with a specialty in Strength and Conditioning. She is also a certified TRX trainer and an International Women’s Figure and Bikini competitor. Her journey with fitness and sports goes back to her younger years where at age 5 she was enrolled in figure skating, and later inline skating. It was in these developmental years that she grew as a competitor and gave back to her club by coaching which she was doing by age 12, and at 14 was awarded for her volunteer work as a coach. When she was 16 her mother and father bought her a membership to a gym. It was here that Lisa met a friend of the family who also happened to be a female bodybuilder training at the gym and set her down a path which would define her life in the years to come. “I didn’t have a coach; I didn’t have anything. I just started learning.” Lisa said, describing her foray into this new world. 

With a newfound love to invigorate her competitive spirit she began the process of recompositing her body and challenging herself to conquer the PR Boards for bench press and squat.  Eventually Lisa’s hard work landed her at the doors of DDH, crediting two female trainers who worked there at the time for guiding her when she first started working as a brand-new trainer. Unbroken and unyielding, Lisa continues to work at DDH to this day.  However, the true struggles are the battles with mental health, body image, and bullying that she and many women throughout the Ottawa Valley have fought and still fight to this day. “I was never popular; my self-esteem wasn’t the best. I struggled in a lot of ways. The further I got into lifting the more disciplined I got, independent of anybody else. Fitness, and the industry itself has given me the power to also give that back.” Lisa works with women of all ages throughout the Ottawa Valley, and even when not in the position as a trainer or a coach she listens to the struggles of the people around her. The confidence she has built for herself has given her the ability to help people regardless of age, race, or identity and help them find the beauty within themselves to fight back against these day-to-day struggles. “The mirror is dysmorphic. The mirror will never show you how good of a person you are. You are beautiful to everybody when you are strong and confident no matter what the shell looks like.”

Meghan Smith is a young girl who boxes out of the Pembroke Boxing Club, and she met Lisa for the first time when she was working as a trainer at Phoenix Rising, a gym which unfortunately closed its doors during the Covid-19 Pandemic. “She’s pretty darn inspiring,” she said with a nervous chuckle “She’s very open, and she’ll make sure you don’t give up even when you feel like giving up.”. Like most young girls her age Meghan is not a stranger to the struggles of bullying and body image however Lisa’s presence in her life has given her a positive role model to look up to. “When I started struggling mentally, she was always there and made sure I knew she was always there if I needed anything. Somedays she would show up at the club just to come see me and when I’d have a bad day, she’d make sure I’d come to the club, and I would workout with her.” Jason Burgoyne, owner, and head coach of the Pembroke Boxing Club described Lisa as an integral part of the club. “We’d be devastated if she left us.” He said “She makes herself integral by involving herself, when she sees someone having a hard time she goes over and talks to them. I think it would be felt by everybody, not just the coaching staff, if she left, it would be felt by everybody. Especially the ladies classes.” The lives Lisa has touched, young and old, male, or female, are far reaching and her presence in the fitness world in the Ottawa Valley is felt by all who encounter her. 

Describing how she feels about helping the people she has Lisa’s humbleness and stoicism reverberated in her voice and through her words “I look on what I went through and I’m so glad I went through it to be there for somebody else. To show them that whether its boxing or whatever you choose to do that it’s going to build your confidence and that to be different is what it truly means to be a leader and to be different is to be who you are, and to give back.” 

– Kaelan Maye 2022


  • Coach J
    May 5, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    What a great article. Well done!

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