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Nikki Dunlop, queer personal fitness trainer Victoria BC

My name is Nikki. I’m a queer, former high-performance athlete turned holistic health and movement nerd. My path to this place began with my hockey dreams and playing at the collegiate level. After several years living that dream, I transitioned out of sport and into the world of coaching. Here, I began to witness a trend; as I guided clients into connection with their body through breath, movement and intention, unexpected things would arise for them. Anything from clarity around a decision they were stuck on to deep emotion they had been repressing for years. While I’ve always loved movement and fitness, holding space for folks, guiding them through the challenges of their lives and teaching them how to really take care of themselves is where the juice is for me.

I didn’t exactly arrive at this place without my own crises and challenges. Following my hockey career, I submerged myself in achieving, which was a pretty effective strategy for avoiding myself, my deeper truths, and the pain I had worked so hard to repress. During that time, I built an alumni association and a dense professional network. I had a high-end client base and I was teaching post secondary courses, all at the age of 24.

All was going “well” until my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, it took finding out that she was sick for me to begin to realize all the ways I was making myself sick. While I would never wish an illness upon anyone, in hindsight, her diagnosis was an absolute gift to me. This experience helped me create a more congruent way of life and Being. The subsequent years were intense. I made some big decisions for myself, including letting go of some of the roles I was in and moving back to the city where my family was so I could be with my sister as she navigated her health challenges.

As I was supporting my sister, I dove deep into personal development, spending weeks and months at a time in retreats and courses exploring myself, relationships, sexuality, embodiment, anger, boundaries, grief, connection and movement, transforming my beliefs, and ultimately learning how to be with myself and others more authentically. Workshop after workshop I was seeing that same trend I noticed in working with my own clients - as folks connected to themselves through breath and body work, those unexpected arisings would show up. As a result, I’ve been gifted with even more practice holding space and bearing witness, something that has been exceptionally important in working with folks holistically.

Despite all this personal development work, I still didn’t understand why someone who was very much the picture of health I held in my mind, could end up sick with cancer. This question and the ensuing curiosity has driven my continued education into hydration, sleep, lymphatics, trauma, the disease process, nourishment, psychology, interpersonal neurobiology, holistic health, movement, Chinese medicine, and breath work.

In short, what I’ve come to is that we are absolutely a system of systems that should not be compartmentalized. We are impacted by things that happened before we ever arrived here (intergenerational trauma), and most folks haven’t been taught by their elders how to truly take care of themselves, how to love fully, or grieve deeply. Fundamentally, I’ve concluded that diseases (typically) do not happen overnight. They are a process and a culmination of a person's lifestyle choices, trauma, psychology and physiology.


With this, I weave all of these aspects of humanness into a trauma informed holistic lifestyle and movement coaching practice where a main focus of mine is to support clients as they move toward a place in which they do not “need” me anymore, to a place where they have developed such a strong and steady relationship with themselves that they know what they need, what the next steps are, and how to take them.


Fast forward to the present where I am doing my best to walk my talk, utterly inspired and driven by my beautiful sister, Penny, who died in June 2019. My life’s mission is to be a healthy cell in the body of the world and support others in doing so too. I believe health looks a lot of different ways, but the foundational principles are the same; they are thinking, breathing, hydration, nutrition, rest, movement and connection.

When I'm not learning something new, working with clients (online and at Third Space Movement) or teaching my college students online through the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, I love moving and mountain biking, co-creating with my partner, reading, spending time at the beach, challenging the status quo, travelling to new places, sauna-ing, drinking excellent coffee, painting, connecting with friends, building things, flowing at 5Rhythms, and being a bit of a shit disturber. 

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