Nothing Comes Easy… But The Grind Is Worth It by Heidi Cannon

Nothing Comes Easy… But The Grind Is Worth It by Heidi Cannon

It’s very true to life, nothing comes easy. For some people, however, they seem to have it all, and I’m thinking to myself how the heck did they get where they’re at and why the heck wasn’t that me!!! Of course that’s just me being jealous. But placing that aside, I can totally relate to this motto because it’s one in which I try to live by. I also feel extremely blessed to be surrounded by a loving and supportive husband, family and close friends who are the positive influences in my life.

From a young adult, I’ve always been active, even a “tom boy” as some people call me.  Just about every sport out there I love to try, and am up for experiencing anything new or extreme. And, if I really like something, I work my butt off to get good at it.

When I was 13 years old, my parents enrolled me into martial arts, which was a smart move on their part! After going twice, I was hooked! I had amazing teachers who instilled in me lifelong values such as respect, dedication, commitment and hard work. I also met so many nice people who are still friends to this day. I trained 3-5 times a week, and ultimately achieved my Black Belt at 18. Later that same year my team was going to Melbourne Australia to compete in the World Martial Arts Games. I wanted to go and compete so badly and to be part of the team but didn’t get picked. I was totally crushed, weeks later it was decided that if any one wanted to go they could pay their own way and come. So, I decided to go, and much to the surprise of my teammates and others, I competed in two competitions and won gold medals in both.

During my time down under, I discovered the Australian Stunt Academy in Brisbane Australia. I thought to myself…I love to be in front of people and I’m really good at sports — this is a perfect fit!! I can act and do my own stunts! The following year, I enrolled in the course and loved it, learning all the stunt person’s basics from being lit on fire, to getting hit by a car, to repelling off cliffs and even scuba diving. I was so excited and pumped to get home and eventually move to Vancouver and start pursuing my dreams.

Shortly after I returned home there was an advertisement from Universal Studios California looking for stuntwomen. This was my big break, or so I thought, so I flew to Burbank California with my Mom and went to the try-outs where I found out I was one of hundreds competing for the same role. On the second round, I was “chopped.” Again, another blow to my ego, and yet I wasn’t ready to give up. I was determined to move to Vancouver and start my new stunt/acting gig.

I think I was under the total illusion that by moving to Vancouver I would get “noticed” or “discovered” and “bam,” I would break into the movie scene.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Early on, I found out I had HUGE competition, and it required me finding an agent that believed in me. I foolishly thought they would see me and go “wow”, you’re “it”. Ha ha! I did get an agent and started going to numerous auditions. At the time I also was holding down a full-time job and needed to give a day’s notice to take time off in the middle of the day to go to an audition. Luckily for me I had an understanding boss.

If I wanted to stay on top of my game I had to start taking acting classes again. So after work, twice a week, I would drive 45 minutes to acting class, which was 2 hours long, then take the 45 minute drive back home. On the other “free” nights, I worked out at the local gym where all the working stunt performers trained, trying to get my face known.

I got a call from my agent who told me she had booked me a gig to ride a motorcycle for a Macy’s commercial. I was so excited I nearly threw up. I can remember showing up on set and seeing my name on the door of the trailer I was meant to stay in while shooting, and thinking this is it! I’m on a roll now!. Well…that was short-lived because I didn’t get booked for anything else until 3 months later.

As time went on I started to get a bit disheartened with the endless auditions and nothing to show for it. And, I was noticing that some of the stunt roles were being given to other girls that weren’t necessarily stunt performers. I began to see a totally different side to the acting/stunt world and I asked myself “why am I putting in so much effort on all levels and draining my bank account for what?” I can’t say that it was all bad and it was pretty cool seeing myself in a television commercial or in a television series.

It was time for me to move on and find another outlet and a new focus. This is when I decided to take a course in esthetics – something I had always been fascinated in, and it gave me an opportunity to broaden my career path. While there, I was very fortunate to meet so many great people that were like me who were in their later 20’s trying to change their career paths as well.

It was during this time that I used to frequent a coffee shop on our lunch hour, and the guy who owned the shop was huge!!! He had massive biceps and triceps. He must be a bodybuilder. Sure enough I was right. He replied back saying that he competed in bodybuilding. Sweet! Thinking to myself, how hard could it be? I’ve been lit on fire, I’ve achieved my black belt, jumped my dirt bike 100 feet, I’m sure I could figure out how to put a routine together and walk around in a bikini.

After watching numerous YouTube videos of women doing fitness routines, to train me for my very first show I hired the help of my two good friends who were heavily involved in the sport. Fortunately I had a dance background – yes, this “tom boy” loves to dance (years of practice and taking multiple dance classes in belly dance and other forms of dance) and who knew, was not too bad at it lol!

I decided to incorporate my love of belly dance into my routine and learned how to do the fitness holds and poses that were required. For 4 months, every other day I practiced putting a routine together and worked out with my trainer, and went to the gym 3 times a week.

The morning of the first show I was so sick. I had never before put my body through such a rigorous training schedule and strict diet plan in all my life! Because of being so active, I had never had to diet before and ate and drank whatever I wanted. Now it was totally different.

Knowing that I wanted to win more than anything, my competitive side kicked in. Everything I had trained and sacrificed for came down to that moment. I got on the stage and went for it – nailing all my holds and dance moves – definitely a huge accomplishment for me, and I ended up placing second in my first show. Oh was I ever pumped! I was on a roll.

Two weeks later, I entered the WBFF show, placing in the top three. Believe me, I was on top of the world! I thought to myself why not do one more this year. The show was 6 weeks later and I had fallen off the strict diet plan completely. Thinking I would be able to get back onto the stage in top shape in a matter of 2 weeks was impossible. I placed 5th in BC for fitness but I knew in my heart I could have achieved better. I was totally down on myself and was eating everything in sight. But then I decided to change to a realistic attitude and commit myself again to striving for that number one spot in a sensible way. For the next six months I trained and the following June I trained for the WBFF Vancouver Championships, where came in first place and won my pro card. I had done it!!!!!!

My philosophy in life is to truly believe in yourself, and through hard work and effort, visualize yourself accomplishing whatever goal you’re striving for. And, if one door closes, another door will open for you. Everything in God’s time. Do your best and help everyone else along the way, and be grateful for each day that you do have.

And remember: nothing comes easy…but the grind is worth it!


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Written by Heidi Cannon

I’m a Magnum sponsored athlete, WBFF pro fitness model, published professional bellydancer and stunt performer.


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