My name is Stephanie Coughlan. I am both a Canadian sports therapist for high-performing athletes and an aspiring fitness model who has garnered a large following on social media.
I am best known for my work with Olympic and Paralympic athletes, as well as my Instagram account where I post photoshoots and share my own life story in order to empower other women.
Currently, I am a therapist for the Toronto Titans, which is the first Canadian swim team in the International Swim League (ISL). As a former national-level athlete myself, helping top-tier swimmers achieve their best is incredibly rewarding to me. I know just how much dedication and determination it takes to succeed at such a level, so I am grateful to be able to help others with their own pursuit of excellence.
Pushing myself to my limits is something I have always done.
Having competed at national levels for swimming, soccer, and golf, I know the importance of being able to perform at your best when it matters most. It was this drive that contributed to my career as a sports therapist, and I now use my knowledge to help others achieve their own goals.
Although my athletic career is integral to who I am as a person, it is only a part of my story. I have overcome significant adversity in various other aspects of life, including toxic relationships and physical health.
These experiences have shaped me into the resilient person I am today, and I hope that my story will continue to inspire others to persevere, no matter how difficult things may seem.
When I was in sixth grade, I was diagnosed with scoliosis.
I first noticed the effects of scoliosis when I began struggling to breathe while playing soccer. Not long after I was told by my doctor that I needed back surgery, and just then my athletic career came to an abrupt halt.
My recovery was long and difficult – I actually died on the operating table and had to be resuscitated. I knew that moving forward I would embark on a slow and painful road to wellness. For whatever reason, I was not given physiotherapy afterwards so I had to relearn how to walk again all on my own.
Thankfully, I was taking kinesiology in school at the time so I was able to put my knowledge of rehabilitation to good use.
After my diagnosis, my doctor said I’d never achieve my full potential in sports.
From my initial diagnosis all the way up until university, I remember the same doctor telling me year after year that I would never be able to truly succeed in sports because of my condition.
When you hear someone tell you something like that, there are only two options: accept it, or prove them wrong. I decided to go with the latter. I wish somebody had told me about the Paralympics back then because that is where I would have found my competitive outlet. Unfortunately, I only learned about the Paralympics much later in life as they became more mainstream so I never had the chance to compete.
I tried to get back into swimming, but it wasn’t easy. I got good but not as good as I once was, so I decided to transition my focus to another area. I signed up for a fitness contest and, to my surprise, I won. This sparked a whole new chapter in my life where I began fitness modeling and started to use Instagram as a platform to inspire others while working as a sports therapist.
Challenging perceptions of myself is a theme of my life.
I stopped caring about what others thought about how I looked. By working alongside some photographer friends of mine, I started creating Instagram content that would show a whole other side that people hadn’t seen before.
Up until then, anyone who knew me would have said I was the “jock” type. But through my Instagram, I was able to explore my femininity in a way that felt empowering and liberating. As I continued to open up with my own personal life, I started to receive messages from other women telling me that my posts were helping them through their own difficult times. This only encouraged me to keep going.
It was then that I realized the true power of social media: it can be used to inspire and motivate others, even if you’re just sharing your own life experiences.
The pandemic has been an eye-opener for a lot of people, and I’m no different.
At one point in my journey, I realized I was always quick to help others – but at the cost of my own well-being. I now understand that in order to help others to the best of your ability, you must fill your own cup first.
Covid has granted many of us the time to do just that. This includes women who have had to deal with difficult situations like domestic abuse and other hardships in life. Just recently, I attended a charity event for sexually assualted women – and the amount of support for the event was amazing!
I find it beautiful to see so many women taking control of their lives and breaking the mold for themselves. We are all capable of greatness, no matter what our story may be.
My life mission is to empower women.
I believe that, more than ever, we need to be lifting each other up.
Over the course of my own journey, I have become a voice for women and girls who have faced similar challenges in life. Whether it’s self-esteem issues, abuse, or anything else, I want to show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In doing so, I hope to inspire future generations to be their best selves.
One important component of this empowerment process is children. Our kids’ perception of their mothers and other adult females has a profound impact on our society. Therefore, it’s crucial that young people are raised with a positive image of women. If we can show that we are strong and deserving of respect, then we can help make the world a better place for everyone.
When you go beyond your limits, you empower not only yourself but also those who come after you. Nobody else knows what you’re capable of, so don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what others believe is possible for you.
We are capable of so much more than we think, and it’s time to start believing that.
Follow Stephanie’s journey on her Instagram @Stephanie_Coughlan