Sharma-Nickoli ranked top five fitness instructors in Canada by Canfitpro. (Photo contributed: Carousel Studios)

North Okanagan fitness specialist ranked top five in Canada

Sareena Sharma-Nickoli runs Soul Studio in Vernon.

Sareena Sharma-Nickoli has been a fitness instructor in Vernon for nearly 20 years. She was recently named one of the top five fitness instructors in Canada from Canfitpro.

She said that working out is what keeps her sane and helping others achieve their fitness goals is why she has continued teaching throughout the years. It’s also what eventually inspired her to open her own fitness studio.

In order to become a certified fitness instructor, trainers earn their qualifications through large fitness organizations like Canfitpro. Today, Sharma-Nickoli has 15 fitness certifications including bar, booty bar, kick, power, ride and more.

It all started in 1999 when Sharma-Nickoli began teaching spin classes at Fitness West in Vernon. At this time, she was also running City Furniture in Vernon, her family’s retail store, while teaching up to six classes a week.

In 2008, she found Zumba fitness and, having grown up dancing and choreographing, she became one of nine Zumba instructors in Canada — the first in Western Canada.

Over the next few years, she slowly began branching out. Having built up her clientele, Sharma-Nickoli began running classes out of rented dance studios. Soon, a friend suggested she open her own studio. Within three months, she handed the furniture business over to her husband, found a space and Soul Studio officially opened in Dec. 2014.

She recently renovated and expanded the space last year.

This is straight from my heart ❤ Grateful to be living my purpose and spreading awareness of health and fitness. It has been a part of my life for 20 years, and I will continue to preach the importance of making fitness a part of your lifestyle. I am a HUGE BELIEVER. Fitness is what you need to balance your mental, physical and heart health. It's NEVER too late to start!! Click on the link in my profile for the full video ☝️🎬to see my Fitness Journey over the last few years. . . . . #fitness #funfitness #groupfitness #cardio #strength #flexibility #fitnessisalifestyle #healthy #healthyliving #hearthealth #zumba #bollyx #ryde #bootybarre #indoorcycling #fitnessinstructor #womeninbusiness #passionbusinss #entrepreneur #soulstudio #soulryde #canfitpro #top5 @soulstudioca @soulbizca

A post shared by Sareena (@sareenanickoli) on

Sharma-Nickoli was nominated for The Fitness Professional of the Year Awards by two co-workers who noticed her passion, hard work and commitment to fitness and the Vernon community.

The awards are designed to recognize a Canfitpro certified and practising professional member who had demonstrated exceptional leadership, motivation, and technical skills and have inspired clients to achieve their goals. Each nominee had to be a practising Canfitpro professional in good standing and be Canfitpro certified in the designation of the nomination. Sharma-Nickoli met all the requirements. So, after finding out she was nominated by her peers, she filled out the application form and waited for a response.

Finally, she received the news: she landed in the top five.

“I got an email that said I was top five,” said Sharma-Nickoli. “I was totally blown away. I have been nominated for a lot of things in my life but this was actually one of the best [accomplishments] because it’s really what I love to do.”

Since being named in the top five, Sharma-Nickoli has also been chosen as a panellist at the Canfitpro Fitness Conference at the closing ceremonies in Toronto next weekend. She said she was chosen because of her community work in Vernon.

She said she has raised a total of approximately $50,000 for the community through fitness. This includes Habitat for Humanity Vernon Chapter, Canadian Mental Health along with VJH hospital foundation and Hospice House.

“I’ve been here since the early ‘80s and Vernon has been my life since then so any opportunity to give back to the community, I do,” Sharma-Nickoli added.

She said that earning the recognition as one of the top five fitness instructors in Canada will allow her to do more community service, raise money and help others reach their fitness goals. She said this makes it all worth it.

“I’m excited. It’s opened up a lot of opportunities because I want to get more into fitness events like seminars and speaking with people who would love to follow their passion and aren’t sure what to do with it so that’s the avenue that I want to go to,” she said. “Canfitpro is the avenue that allows me to showcase what I can offer and see where it can take me.”

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She flies to the Toronto conference this Wednesday. Though she’s excited to be a panellist, she said the acknowledgement isn’t her focus or her goal. Rather, it is the passion that drives her success.

“This is probably the best recognition that I’ve ever gotten and now to be sitting on the panel at the closing ceremonies is awesome,” Sharma-Nickoli added. “I do it because I love it. Getting this recognition is just a bonus.”

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Sharma-Nickoli is also attending the Canfitpro conference in Toronto later this week as a panellist. (Photo contributed: Carousel Studios)

Sareena Sharma-Nickoli owns and operates Soul Studio in Vernon. (Photo contributed: Carousel Studios)

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