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Getting out of the rut Driven by a desire to help others, nurse launches life coaching business BY DAVID SALI



year ago, Melissa Jirovec was a registered nurse in Northern Ontario looking forward to her upcoming wedding. Then, in an instant, a single event dramatically changed her career path and her outlook on life. Her fiance Jason was riding a fourwheel all-terrain vehicle when he collided head-on with a friend who was driving a dirt bike. A traumatic brain injury left him with significant weakness on his left side as well as impaired speech and vision. His recovery required a long hospital stay, followed by months of arduous rehabilitation. “The brain is not like any other bone, muscle, anything,” says Ms. Jirovec. “It takes a long period of time to heal, and they can’t give you any kind of indication of what kind of healing you’re going to get.” The couple went ahead with their wedding plans, exchanging vows in the hospital. Then Mr. Jirovec was about to check into a private rehab clinic when they got a call telling them there was a bed available at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre. They left their home in Cochrane, an hour northeast of Timmins, and headed to the nation’s capital. For the next several months, Ms. Jirovec was a fulltime caregiver to her husband. But by the end of the year, as he slowly



began to recover, she knew she would soon need to re-enter the workforce. She also knew it wouldn’t be in the same occupation. “I loved my job, I loved being a nurse,” she says during an interview at the couple’s downtown apartment. “I really struggled with the environment – I really wasn’t expecting it to be so shortstaffed (with such a) lack of resources. I was having a hard time with that. When I decided to change careers, it wasn’t a hard decision to make. I just wanted to take the aspects of the job that I loved and put them into practice.” Ms. Jirovec decided she still wanted to help people, but in a different way. After attending a two-day seminar at the Brookstreet Hotel in February hosted by the Certified Coaches Federation, an organization that trains life coaches, she realized she’d found her calling. “As soon as I was there, I just knew that that’s where I was supposed to be,” she says. “As a coach, you’re kind of helping guide people towards achieving their goals. I really felt like I was meant to be an entrepreneur.” Soon afterward, she launched Out of the Rut, a consulting business devoted to helping women better manage their health and well-being. Backed by $15,000 in funding from Futurpreneur Canada, Ms. Jirovec will start hosting seminars this fall to educate women on techniques for coping with stress, the importance of proper nutrition and sleep as well as ways to boost their self-esteem and maintain a positive mindset.

Proper nutrition is just one area Melissa Jirovec, shown with her husband Jason, covers in her seminars designed to help women take better control of their overall health. PHOTO BY LOIS SIEGEL

Ms. Jirovec says health and wellness, particularly among women, is an oftenoverlooked area in the growing field of personal and executive coaching. “Women just have a lot of things that are pulling at their attention,” she says. “They’re constantly on the go. They’re taking their kids to soccer, they’re trying to be a great housewife, they’re working, they’ve got hobbies. They’ve got all kinds of stuff going on, and a lot of the time, in order to be productive, we don’t take time for ourselves and we don’t time to get enough to get enough sleep, to eat properly, to work out. We want to do those things, but it just seems like extras. I wanted to help women learn to take care of themselves so that they can do all the things that they want to do.”

She says she wants to get comfortable with clients by getting to know them in the workshops first before embarking on one-on-one or small group coaching sessions. “Coaching is very much relationshipbased,” says Ms. Jirovec, 24. “You have to really connect with the person.” Confessing to having “zero business experience” before launching Out of the Rut, she says the last few months have been a crash course in marketing, budgeting and networking. She has also created a website where she regularly blogs about health and wellness issues. “I’ve really taken a step out into left field,” she says with a smile. “It’s been a learning experience, but I love it. I love every minute of it.”

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Ottawa Business Journal 20150803  
Ottawa Business Journal 20150803  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...