Owner and head coach, Studio B and BearSkinny
Lauren Downie has been through just about every struggle you can imagine related to weight issues and body image.
As a kid, she was the “chubby one.” Growing up, she yo-yoed with diets, battled anorexia, abused diet pills and drugs.
Finally, she had her epiphany: She was training for a triathlon – yet starving herself – and during a workout in the pool, she was simply too weak to go on. So it clicked. If she was going to train like an athlete, she had to eat (and act) like one.
Today, Downie is a personal trainer, health coach, competitive triathlete and body builder (and a mother to a 5-year-old son). She runs the female health and fitness program BearSkinny out of Studio B: Healthier Community Center on 3 Seavey St. in Waterville.
Her goal? To inspire women to embrace themselves (no matter their size) and to get fit in a positive, healthy way.
“To take care of yourself, you need to love your body,” she said. “I want to help people skip everything that I went through. I want to reach out to women especially. They touch me closer to my heart just because of what I went through.”
It all essentially came about years ago because she lost a bet – as the “loser,” she had to start running. After just two weeks of training, she finished a 10K. But she kept logging the miles after that, and eventually graduated to triathlons (resulting in her “Aha” moment of physical weakness in the pool).
A year ago, she started BearSkinny, which coaches women on both fitness and life through boot camps, training, nutrition counseling, cooking classes, socials, and newsletters (and where she earned her nickname “Mama Bear”). In May, she opened Studio B, which houses BearSkinny, but also serves as a health and nutrition network for the larger community.
Anywhere from 30 to 60 women are involved at a given time, and the aim is to focus on the social interaction and environment of fitness, so members get emotionally attached through the relationships and camaraderie, and are inspired to be there – rather than feeling like it’s a chore.
That way, ultimately, “it makes it something that’s a part of your life that you’ll never give up,” Downie said.