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Schae Zarew of The Strength Syndicate

Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Schae Zarew, I own a kickass gym called The Strength Syndicate on the Northside of Canberra, I recently created Women's Strength Collective, I eat too much feta cheese, am the national record holder in the u64kg class in powerlifting, and am the biggest lover of natural lighting and bright colours. I do a lot of different things and feel like my brain is always searching for the next step or path, but my main focus has always been around helping women of all ages through movement. 

Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it

I struggled with binge eating and really poor body-image growing up and powerlifting and strength training were the catalyst to create a healthier path for myself. I found being involved in a performance based hobby replaced my worries around what my body looked like and slowly rewired it to appreciate what my body could do. It took 1 year of being involved with the sport to break a viscous 10 year cycle of hating this shell I was in and convincing myself that the only way I could exist in it was to make it smaller.

I created TSS and WSC as a way to reach other females to help them potentially break their cycles too, or at the very least, plant a seed to help them return to it later. I have spent countless hours of planning, brainstorming, failing, and then starting again to figure out how I could best do this and returning to my why has never failed me; all women deserve better, especially young women in their most influential years. They need a better message about their bodies and they need a better message surrounding exercise; so, I am here to do my part for as long as I live.

Q3) What makes you feel courageous?

Honestly, I feel like I can only answer this because there have been SO, so many moments where I felt the opposite of courageous. I was in a really poor cycle with myself for two years after having some really troubling issues surrounding early business partners and personalities in general, the most courageous I had ever felt was stepping outside one day after hearing some (untrue) gossip about myself and my default was letting it go. That moment was everything and proof of my healing, which I felt like I fought so hard for and cried like a baby. One of my favourite quotes is "acceptance is a small, quiet room" and I felt that so intimately that day.

I feel like my most courageous self when I am returning to 'me'. It feels like a big, but kind, middle finger to everything else. Its when I do my best work, am the most creative, the friend and partner I would want, and overall how I want to show up to the world. Its something I have to work at daily and I imagine this will go for the rest of my life, but nothing replaces that feeling for me.

Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

Oh, so many things, but here are my top 6.

  1. Foundation is not a good lip colour, your brother once tried to tell you this (thanks, Kyle)
  2. It's okay to not know what you want to do right now, don't let it paralyse you from taking any steps at all though
  3. The book Tiny Beautiful Things will impact you every time you read it 
  4. Stop trying to convince your boyfriends to love you, the one you're supposed to be with will never need to be swayed 
  5. Sometimes you'll just lose even if you think you put up the best fight. End of story. Choose acceptance 
  6. You will get your wisdom teeth out in the chair and it'll literally be the worst time ever. I feel like this one isn't that grand but my 16 year old self deserves this heads up without a doubt.

Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?

Define what courageous actually means to you. For me, it was hitting publish on an idea and website I put to the back of my brain (and heart) for three years. For others it might be facing the first 'hey, how are you doing?' from a friend after losing a loved one, picking up a barbell for the first time and saying f**k you to an eating disorder, or leaving a relationship that is 'fine' but you know just doesn't feel it. Courage is in our to day-to-day little moments and its our job to find them, feed them, and then give yourself a big pat on the back for honouring them.

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