Every other Tuesday, Svveat Stories brings you Svveatspiration: an inspiring series of first-person narratives from our fitness community’s unsung heroes. This week, Allison Miceli shares her journey from bullied teen to Tribe Fitness mentor and multisport athlete.

Growing up, I dabbled in a lot of different sports. As the “daughter-son” of the family, my dad signed me up for soccer, tennis, swimming, figure skating, tee-ball and basketball, among other sports. I was never the most athletic kid, so in middle school I drifted towards music. I’ll admit I was one of the “bigger” kids, which resulted in bullying throughout my teen years. I tried to overlook it by staying involved in activities and focusing on school work, but I believe this, and the lack of encouragement for people “like me” to try out for teams, made me stray from sports.

I had no clue back then that I would become an athlete later in life.

Allison doing yoga
Allison Micelli

In June 2014, I relocated from Hamilton to downtown Toronto for work. It was exciting to finally be immersed in the downtown core and have more of a work-life balance. With the three hours of my day I was regaining, I promised myself I would use some of that time to take care of me. The excitement gave way to anxiety as I realized it was difficult to fill the hours after work when I didn’t have much of a social circle in the city. I thought I would need to get a membership at a gym or a yoga studio to get back into a fitness routine, but I would soon find out that there was a world of free fitness for me to discover.

Being active on social media within Toronto’s yoga community led me to stumble upon a group called Tribe Fitness. Their founder Heather Gardner offered free yoga and running programs for anyone of any experience level. On my second day as a resident of Toronto, I attended a free yoga workshop at MEC that Tribe Fitness was hosting, and it didn’t take long to notice the camaraderie among the women of the group. That evening, I looked up Tribe Fitness online and saw that they were starting a Learn to Run – Couch to 10K program in a few weeks’ time. I had never really run, but I thought it could be an interesting way to meet some new people and explore the city that was my new home.

Allison running

The first night I ran with Tribe Fitness, I was nervous. I had told myself I’d commit to the three months. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, but at least I’d meet some new folks and see the city. What I didn’t know when I laced up that day was that my life would be changed by this community—for the better—and it started with my run mentor Jay Pomerantz telling me one simple phrase early on:

“You are a runner; we are all runners; everyone is a runner.”

Allison triathalon
In July 2016, Allison completed the sprint distance triathlon at the Toronto Triathlon Festival

In October of 2014, I ran my first 10K race. I ran it in one hour with Jay waiting for me at the finish line, and with three other Learn to Run folks by my side. In 2015, I ran my first 15K race with my #TribeSoleSisters, completed my first duathlon and started mentoring the very Learn to Run program that I had participated in the summer before.

With my tribe, I’ve found myself, I’ve fallen in love with being active, and through thick and thin, on and off of the pavement, they have been a support system. I’ve continued to dedicate my time and passion to this community. I truly believe it takes a village, and I know first-hand, as it took a tribe of incredible people to show me how strong, resilient and kick-ass I am!

Allison at Seawheeze
In August 2016, Allison was a Pace Beaver at lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half-Marathon in Vancouver

My sweat life has given me so much: the ability to love my body for what it is capable of and how strong it is (#StrongIsTheNewSexy); a new-found confidence in myself; the ability to travel the world to connect with other runners; and the opportunity to pay it forward by supporting other runners in their journeys. What I have learned in the past three years is that anything is possible when there is a community supporting you every step of the way.

If you’ve never laced up or you’re looking to get back into running, I encourage you to check out Tribe Fitness on social media, swing by CityPlace for a community run or join us for the Learn to Run program. It’s an opportunity to discover something new about yourself while being part of an inclusive community full of amazing people who are looking to keep fit and have fun while doing it.

Author: Allison Miceli. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and on her blog.

To join Allison for a free workout, visit the Tribe Fitness page on Svveat.

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