"If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” That’s the motto that kept group Fitness Instructor Sabrina Gabrielli-Brewer going last spring when she lost her job and all the GoodLife gyms across Canada closed because of COVID-19 pandemic.

As a canfitpro-certified instructor well-known for teaching Les Mills classes like BODYSTEP, SH’BAM and BODYPUMP at the Brampton McLaughlin Corners GoodLife Fitness, Sabrina has always been dedicated to helping people discover their potential through fitness.

The pandemic shutdowns fueled Sabrina’s dedication. Within a few weeks, Sabrina started teaching high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes via Zoom to her regulars, just to keep them on track.

“At first, I thought it would be just a short-term solution, but weeks turned into months and people were still stuck at home. I added more online HIIT classes and my numbers went up. It made a huge difference in people’s lives. They could stay active and connected. I loved seeing everyone and finding new ways to challenge them to try a bit harder. After the workouts, I’d ask them jokingly ‘but did you die?’”

When the weather got warmer, Sabrina teamed up with another Group Fitness Instructor Kristyn Dunn to offer boot camps in the evenings – often two a night. People brought their own weights and used whatever was around them in the local park. GoodLife Clubs reopened and Sabrina kept teaching online and resumed her Les Mills classes back in the gym.  

Another GoodLife Fitness Instructor, Brian Barbosa, approached her in the fall to start a 6 a.m. running group two mornings a week. They rallied a regular group, many of who had not run before. It turned out to be just in time for more Ontario gym closures in October.

Now Sabrina has a new full-time job and is back teaching Group Fitness at GoodLife, as well as running her online sessions. Many people who take her classes are reaching out to thank her for keeping them motivated and helping them with their physical and mental health during such a tough year.

Elisa Wilson remembers how it felt when her gym closed last year. As a working mother, her time at the gym was a break – a time to focus on herself and her ability to overcome challenges. The gym closed just one month after her mother-in-law suddenly passed away. Elisa remembers feeling lost, overwhelmed, unmotivated and frustrated until she heard from Sabrina, inviting her to join the online HIIT classes.

“She gave me something to look forward to, a way to cope with life and to continue to challenge my body, a way to deal with my own grief, my own emotions so I could better help those who depended on me. When life gets tough, I don't crumble in the depths of despair. Instead, I put on my work out clothes, lace up my shoes and do a HIIT class or go for a run. Sabrina, Kristyn and Brian have given me an outlet, the ability to regain control, to recharge. They gave me what was taken from me, a sanctuary.”