In a time where we’re told that arts degrees are useless, and we’re never going to be able to afford a home in Vancouver, Mandy Gill is defying the odds.
She’s 27 years old. She has established herself as a professional media personality, as well as a professional fitness trainer in Vancouver. And already at her age, she owns her own home in North Vancouver, B.C.—one of the most expensive places to live in the country.
Yes, Gill is incredibly hard working and persistent, but what sets her apart is her ability to adapt to what is thrown at her, and to use some creativity to create a not-so-traditional career that works for her—as opposed to sitting around and waiting for a career job to fall onto her lap after university, like so many 20 somethings do.
After high school, Gill started out at Mount Royal University in Calgary, where she studied marine biology. She quickly realized this wasn’t for her, and one week later she was on a flight to Vancouver to meet the Dean of Columbia Academy, where she would study broadcasting.
She studied broadcasting for one year, and then Gill was hired with Fox radio station at the young age of 21. Things seemed to be going her way: Her education landed her a prestigious job in her industry.
During the next few years, she was shuffled to AM 730, where she reported on weather and traffic, but was later told her voice was too high-pitched and squeaky for their station—told that she was more suitable for a Top-40 station. Shortly after that, Gill was hired by The Beat, a well-known Top 40 station in Vancouver.
At the same time as working as a radio personality, Gill discovered CrossFit, which helped her overcome the last cobwebs of an eating disorder she suffered as a teenager.
“When I was doing CrossFit, I weighed myself for the first time since 2004. And I had a BMI done, and I looked at the paper with the result and it didn’t matter. For the first time, the number didn’t matter,” Gill said. “That was the epitome of being healed for me,” she said.
A colleague convinced her to go on-air and share her story. This was the start of Gill combining her passion for media with her passion for fitness. Little did she know, this combination of passions would continue in a big way in her career.
The reception to Gill’s story couldn’t have been better. She received hundreds of letters from listeners who felt touched and inspired by her story of recovery.
“I realized then that I needed to help other people. It’s what helped me heal,” she said.
Soon after, Gill discovered the volatility of working in media. She was one of 70 people let go from the Beat due to restructuring. She was devastated.
“I broke down hysterically that I lost my job,” Gill remembered.
For the next little while, Gill’s mind focused in the direction of reclaiming full-time employment in broadcasting. She wasn’t going down without a fight.
“I fought tooth and nail to get back into the company and sat down with the VP and he said, ‘I will fight for you but I don’t understand why you don’t pursue your love of fitness,’” Gill remembered.
So she went home, prepared a pitch, and marched right into the Bell Media office, without an appointment.
“I walked in and I looked him in the eye and said, ‘I’m going to take an hour of your time and I’m going to convince you why I’m the one you want doing your fitness segments in Vancouver,” Gill said.
It took her half an hour to convince him. He gave her the contact info for the head producer at CTV, and she did her first fitness segment on CTV in February 2013. Since then, Gill has appeared on CTV dozens of times, offering simple-to-understand fitness tips and advice.
The moment she started her CTV gig, Gill immediately started getting dozens of emails from viewers who wanted help with their fitness needs. She admits she didn’t get back to everyone. At the time she was personal training clients in functional fitness, but still wasn’t prioritizing this in her life.
“I ignored some of them because my passion was still to become a broadcaster and I wanted to get hired back (to radio), and then I woke up and realized I could do both,” Gill said.
She realized that CTV was helping get her name out there as the fitness professional she had become, so why not use that to her advantage, she thought. CTV was only one piece of her career puzzle. Writing had become another one: she was featured on the front of Impact magazine earlier this year. And Reebok was a third. Gill was head-hunted by Reebok last January. Since then, she has been a sponsored Reebok athlete and does promotional appearances for them.
Despite her busy schedule, Gill also finds time to train herself two hours a day and is one of the top CrossFit athletes in the country. She competed at the 2014 Canada West Regional competition on CrossFit North Vancouver’s team. The following weekend, she turned around and was part of the broadcast team at the 2014 Canada East Regional competition in Toronto, where she worked as a sideline reporter.
On top of this, Gill is also involved with Can Fit Pro. She writes for them and is speaking at the Can Fit Pro conference in Vancouver in November, and she’ll be leading some workouts at the event, as well.
With all these pieces on the go, it was finally time to launch her fitness company in a formal way—MGM Fitness (Mandy Gill Motivates)—which she did earlier this year.
Today, MGM Fitness offer personal training services, on-the-go personal training services, as well as nutritional consulting. Gill trains clients—both in a one-on-one and small group environment—at various fitness facilities around the city. And because of Gill’s undeniable media visibility as a fitness personality, she has brilliantly become a walking advertisement for her own company, which is growing rapidly.
But her greatest strength of all is her strength of character and personality. Dave Kitchen, owner of CrossFit North Vancouver, called Gill the most genuine person he’s ever met. When you meet her, you feel her energy, her passion and her genuine care for others, and you want her in your life. Period.
Gill’s next step is to open her own MGM Fitness venue, which is happening soon. She recently announced that she found a facility in Burnaby, B.C.
Gill admits that her life today is much different than she ever would have guessed it would have been five years ago. Five years ago she was hell bent on holding a traditional media job—a full-time position with a TV or radio station. But today, she wouldn’t trade her life for the world.
Between her CTV appearances, her gigs with companies like Reebok and Can Fit Pro, her writing endeavours, her personal training expertise, and the launching of her new company, Gill has managed to think outside the box and piece together her perfect lifestyle.
Part 3 will take a look at what a day (or a week) in the life of Mandy Gill actually looks like—the work, passion and dedication that goes in to being 27 with a booming business in Vancouver.