Meet Nikki Utley (@nikkigrowfit). ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Registered & Certified Yoga Alliance Instructor, Creator/ Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief BFW Magazine, and #swimsuitmodel.
Why did you choose this career path?
Working as a health professional is my second career. My first passion in life was working as a producer in reality television. I really thought I made it when I was hired to work on Donald Trump’s Apprentice in New York, as well as working with Oprah’s Your Own Show where she was searching for the next big TV host. I had an amazing experience creating content for those shows, but there are things about reality TV that I was expected to do that was not true to who I am or consistent with my calling in life. I understand that people know what they are signing up for but I didn’t like the idea of having to manipulate or exploit others in order to get the BEST story. So I decided to get out of producing mindless television content and switched over to doing something more mindful where I could really uplift and make a difference in other people’s lives. Becoming a health, wellness, and fitness professional makes me feel like I am doing what I am meant to do on this planet…serve others. I received confirmation that I was on the right path when one of my clients in Singapore, who I worked with for over 90 days, lost over 30lbs, hugged me so tight and whispered in my ear, “Thank you for saving my life.” Her words brought me to tears because I had no idea that I had the power to help someone else to heal. I am so grateful of this new journey and don’t regret giving up everything to start over as a 43 year-old woman.
What are your hobbies, interests?
Writing, reading, hiking, and biking.
How would describe yourself?
I remember Swimco’s Marketing Director, Krista, said to me, “You are someone who manifests.” I couldn’t agree with her more. I have always been that person who dreamt BIG, who thought of the impossible and somehow figured out how to make what I desired POSSIBLE. I literally saved an outfit for my return to Hawaii before this shoot. I had no idea how or why I would go back to Hawaii but I just had this vision in my head that I would go back there wearing that outfit. I literally refused to wear it anywhere else because I felt that outfit was only meant for the journey to Hawaii and if I truly believed it then I could wait for the opportunity. When this Swimco shoot happened, I pulled that outfit out of the closet, packed it up and did a photo shoot with a photographer in Honolulu wearing that very outfit I held onto for over a year. I mean who does that? Not wear an outfit because they can only wear it at a certain place in the world? ME! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
What are 3 personality traits you identify with?
Three is not enough!
1. Compassion and understanding; I relate well to others
2. Drive and determination keeps me going no matter what
3. Courage helps me do what’s right in tough situations
4. Empathy, loyalty, encouraging helps me to see myself in others as well as create trust.
5. Being honest and taking responsibility for my actions especially if I have done something that harms another person.
What are 3 words your best friend or partner would use to describe you?
Fearless, always smiling, loud.
What do you want people to know about you?
I’m just an ordinary girl who aims to do extraordinary things in life.
What are you hoping to achieve with your social media following and with your relationships to your followers?
The purpose of my social media presence is to educate, empower, and inspire women to go after all that they desire, to be comfortable in their skin, to know their voices matter, to take risks, to be braver than their fears and to live their best life no matter their age.
How do you hope to connect with, touch or inspire the people that follow you?
The best way to connect with people is for me to just be authentic. Be ME.
We selected you for this campaign because we believe your life is aspirational. What do you feel makes your life aspirational? Why did you decide to participate in this campaign?
I believe my life is aspirational because I am not afraid to just be ME. I’m not hiding anymore. Flaws, imperfections, and insecurities all come out on my social media pages…I’m not afraid to get REAL. Not everything is happy and joyful but it is how I handle and bounce back from the dark times in my life…that’s what makes my journey inspiring. I tell myself all the time to BE BRIGHT. BE GRATEFUL. BE YOU. I’m 43 years-old. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I don’t own a house or car. I have debt. I pray I hit the lottery one day like my Nana (RIP) use to do all the time. There are lots of things I could be crying about but I refuse to allow my past mistakes/poor decisions to define who I am or my path in life. We all deserve a joyful and abundant life. So I will continue to work on getting it.
What did you enjoy most about working with us on this campaign?
The Swimco team had their ‘ish together! Such an excellent team of women who had a clear intention and knew exactly how to execute their vision. I was inspired by their passion for the project, hard work, and how well they worked together as a team.They’re also REAL too- there was a funny moment when I needed to dry off after getting my bottoms wet before shooting the next look, so Erin (Swimco’s Image Expert) was helping me, using a blow dryer. It was the funniest scene ever when Krista walked in on us in the bathroom right as Erin was blow drying the crotch of the suit I had on! Haha, it just shows the commitment we all had to making the best of it. Most importantly, they made us feel like Hollywood Stars! That Swimco house was BOMB! I was literally waiting for the reality TV cameras to jump out from shadows like,” Gotcha! You just got Punk’d.” Thank goodness this was REAL. Swimco team rocks!
Did you discover anything about yourself?
It just reminded me of the importance of my life. I am a diamond. Others value me but I must first know my own worth.
If you could say one thing to someone who may not be confident with their body, what would it be?
Take the focus off your body and just get to know who you are and that simply begins with doing things in life that make you feel good about yourself. And if there is something that you want to absolutely change physically, you know that one thing or things that make you roll your eyes to sky or not want to look in the mirror; well you have the power to transform. There are people like me in this world that are here to help you be more awesome.
Overall, the Swimco photoshoot lit a fire under me. Since leaving the photo shoot, I decided to move to Honolulu to explore teaching yoga, fitness, and personally train clients there. I am finishing the edits on my book because I had some fear in dealing with input with others but I’m not telling myself ‘get over it and get it done!’. I just got an offer to be an active wear model so hopefully it works out but now I am going to get head shots and get my portfolio together for any agency or brand who is looking for a real person model. And of course, I am continuing to lead by example and be the light for others to follow.