A local personal trainer hopes when she retires, people can remember her as a person who helped them achieve something that made their lives a little better.
Kate Durst-Suarez, 46, is a certified coach and co-owns Discover Fitness/ Discover Performance with Lisa Tremblay.
Durst-Suarez finds it satisfying to be part of her clients’ journeys and she loves that she’s able to wear many hats in her job: going from a performer and a caregiver to being a businesswoman and athlete, all in one day.
“We all have a purpose on the planet. I was lucky enough to land this gig and I’m going to ride this wave for as long as I can,” she says.
Originally from Kapuskasing, Durst-Suarez became certified personal training almost 20 years ago. She says she has always been very interested in fitness and was especially fascinated by the women she saw in fitness magazines.
“At this point, I never dreamed I would take the stage and become a fitness competitor and then later, coach others to stage,” she says.
She studied English and Film at Carleton University, then got her master’s in education from Medaille College in Buffalo.
At the time, she was living in Kapuskasing. Between doing placement, running her coaching business and driving to Buffalo and back every second weekend, she was also raising her first son with the help of her parents, while her husband was working in Toronto. It was intense, she says.
After teaching Grade 2 for a brief period, she realized she loved coaching rather than school teaching.
“No specific reason I chose teaching. I guess it was something I was able to do, so I did it. No regrets but it was not my passion,” she says.
Discover Fitness with Kate Durst first started in Kapuskasing. After her father died about 11 years ago, she closed her business in Kapuskasing and moved to Timmins. Over the years, what started as a one-woman unit grew into a full 24-hour gym on Spruce Street South.
Durst-Suarez and Tremblay amalgamated their companies about a year and a half ago.
“Lisa opened a company that was always listed as a sister company to Discover Fitness, so it just seemed logical to blend the two companies into one and run it under one umbrella with two owners,” she says.
Giving back to the community and holding various fundraisers is one of the top reasons why they run the business, according to Durst-Suarez.
“The community is the reason we are able to run our business, so it just makes sense for businesses to give back to the very people who keep our doors open,” she says.
Durst-Suarez also sits on the Timmins and District Hospital’s board of directors. Being a part of it has been a very challenging and satisfying involvement for her. She also enjoys critical thinking and the challenges it brings.
“It is also a very special feeling to know you are working with many partners with the goal to provide exemplary care for all northerners,” she says.
Throughout her fitness career, Durst-Suarez also participated in model competitions and competed at the provincial level with the Ontario Physique Association in the figure division.
“It was a lot of work but a lot of fun. It taught me about how much I could take and survive and thrive. The competitions really connected me to many amazing people in the fitness industry,” she says.
Winning Muscle Insider’s Top Trainer of the Year was a “wonderful recognition” of the work she’s been doing, she says.
“It was amazing. I was up against some very accomplished coaches from across Canada,” she says. “It is always nice to be recognized by your peers as a leader within your industry.”
Durst-Suarez’s husband grew up in Cuba, so it’s important for her to educate her two sons about their cross-cultural background.
“I am very proud of my husband. He came to this country as an immigrant and has worked very hard to create a career for himself and provide for our family,” she says. “Cuban food is always a win at our house and we hope to be able to travel back to Cuba again when it becomes safe.”
Durst-Suarez is proud of her family, attaining her post-secondary degrees and receiving several Nova Awards.
Running a fitness business is exciting, challenging, fulfilling and time-consuming but, most importantly, fun, she says.
“I have always said, ‘The day this is no longer fun is the day I need to retire.’ It has been almost 20 years, and each year is more fun than the previous one, so I don’t see stopping any time soon.”