BY MECHELLE MOORE | WRITER
If you have ever trained at a ladies only gym in Greenacre, then chances are you have seen Oula Awad in action; motivating one of her clients on their journey to a healthy lifestyle.
My first impression of Oula Awad was, ‘this woman is tough and determined’. There was a natural gentleness in her eyes with an ‘I can accomplish anything’ presence about her. I wasn’t sure when or how that self-belief and assurance had developed, until I heard Oula’s story.
It was only 6 months after giving birth to her son, Noah, when Oula decided to join a ladies only gym. “Due to pregnancy complications, I had doubled my weight and ended up around 121kg”, she says. “When I gave birth to Noah, I constantly looked at myself in the mirror and could not bear the sight of what I had become compared to what I was before pregnancy.”
It was through, “persistence, patience and proper eating habits over a course of a 2 to 3 year period” that she lost 45 kg. The rest of the excess weight came off slowly over time. “I was extremely depressed at the start and could not see any results”, she says. “Through patience, sheer hard work and dedication, I started noticing the changes and drop off weight.”
I remember Oula’s face lighting up when she explained the transition that occurred within her body and mind that took a while to be noticeable. “I could see other ladies in the same predicament”, she says. “I thought to myself, ‘if I did it, then I can help others to do it too’. I believed in myself and these ladies needed someone to make them believe in themselves too.”
It was during this time, that Oula decided to become a Personal Trainer. Through online studies she obtained a Certificate III and IV in Fitness. “I would still do my daily training at the gym and attend to my family’s needs during the day”, she says. “When they would all go to sleep, I’d jump online to study and complete assignments to achieve the desired qualifications to become a licensed Personal Trainer.”
Once qualified as Personal Trainer, Oula generously worked at a gym for a period of 4 years without drawing a wage. That kind of generosity towards helping women is rare. In Oula’s mind her “remuneration was seeing the ladies’ smiles and petite figures come back to them without negatively judging themselves”.
Oula shared that as a mother and wife, it can be extremely hard to juggle daily life with your ambitions. “Luckily and thankfully, I am surrounded by a man and kids that gave me the space and time to continue my career ambitions without the added complication of attending to the family life”.
When new to an industry there is usually someone that we look up to or influenced us in some way. For Oula that is her friend, Violet,. “[Violet] constantly pushed me and had her hand behind my back”, she says. “She helped me see every blockade in my path as nothing but a little hurdle to get over and keep moving.” Describing Violet as, “nothing short of a sister to me, I have so much love and respect for this woman for making things seem pretty easy”.
In every industry there are always challenges to face and rewards. “The best thing I experience, and I do experience this quite often, is seeing ladies achieve their results. I always receive phone calls from their husbands thanking me for changing their lives”, she says. “Husbands call me thankful for bringing back [their wives] for how they were; both emotionally and physically”.
For Oula to achieve her career goals she has sacrificed her own time and spending time with her husband and children. This is not an easy path to walk, especially with a goal of helping others. I admire Oula’s commitment to her goals and determination to complete what she started. She explains, “[I am] blessed with a beautiful family; without my husband and kids, I wouldn’t be where I am right now”.
We discussed her family and turning points in her life where she needed to ‘dig deep’ to survive. I was overcome with emotion listening to the journey Oula has travelled so far. There are similarities in our stories and her experiences hit a few nerves with me.
The most influential women in her life are, “women who have lost children and kept moving forward”. She explained that, “as a mother who has had 2 miscarriages and buried a daughter (Yasmine), I have nothing but love and respect for any woman who has experienced the same calamities”.
I think back over the interview and remember feeling comforted that I wasn’t the only one who had been through such experiences, but also anguish that someone else had been changed by such tragedies.
Oula is the most positive person I have ever met. Her sheer determination and self-belief is inspiring and something women need to see. “Believe in yourself; remain motivated; be consistent; never give up; stay strong willed and never feel that you’re alone”, she says. “Lift your head and be proud of who you are; life is a challenge, keep on going strong”.
I am humbled to have met such an incredible woman.