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In Focus | Sonya Looney

Meet Sonya! Sonya is originally from Albuquerque, NM and has been living here in Kelowna for five years. Her passion for mountain biking has taken her all over the world and she strives to help people be better and live more positive, empowered lives.

<who> Photo Credit: Sonya Looney
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
I'm from Albuquerque, NM and have lived in Kelowna for 5 years.

Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My husband because he is brilliant, funny, and likes to do all the same things I do!

What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
I'm not a big shopper, but I love food! Nature's Fare, Waterfront Wines, Zabb.

Describe yourself in one word.

If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
Nepal - it is my favourite country on the planet. Authentic culture, incredible landscape, and a realness that is unique.

What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
Mountain Biking.

<who> Photo Credit: Sonya Looney
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Truth is it's really hard to embarrass me! I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin. I'd say typos embarrass me, and they happen more often than I'd like to admit.

What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
Being able to live this crazy life as a pro mountain biker inspires me daily because of what it has taught me. I never thought I'd be a World Champion or have travelled as I have. I've raced in 30+ countries! It's continually making growth mindset oriented choices along the way that have helped me become who I am today. I was working for a start-up solar engineering company in Boulder, CO and was trying to become a more established pro cyclist. I was offered a job doing national sales and marketing in the bike industry, so I changed careers which enabled me to travel more with my bike. I started travelling internationally which is how I met my husband and moved to Canada! I quit the marketing job after 5 years and decided to go full freelance entrepreneur and was responsible for going after every dollar I made. I started writing my own proposals and negotiating contracts with 15-20 brands a year as a sponsored athlete. I had also been writing feature stories as a freelancer for several years. I wanted to start speaking about 10 years ago, so I started writing my speeches and getting speaking gigs. My podcast, The Sonya Looney Show has also been amazing because I get to talk to inspiring people across mindset, plant-based nutrition, psychology, physiology, business, and more every week. I was designing products for my sponsors and wanted to start my own business doing the same thing- that's how Moxy & Grit was born 1 year ago. I also just came out with my first plant-based cookbook called Plant-Powered Tribe! Everything I'm doing in my business has grown out of being brave enough to go after and start the things I wanted to do, even if I wasn't sure how to do them and learning that we are far more capable than we imagine. Racing the hardest mountain bike events around the world taught me I can get through anything, learn how to do anything, and can do more than I think I can, especially if I stick with it. It's taught me mental toughness, how to respond to difficult situations, how to be independent, and I've learned so much about human connection.

Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
Camping in Silverton, CO with my family and going on hikes.

Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
I volunteer my time helping people in the cycling world and I also will sometimes speak for free to give back, especially in the plant-based/vegan community.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Exactly what I'm doing now.

<who> Photo Credit: Sonya Looney
Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
Rose Valley; I ride there several times a week!

Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
I'd like to see a more inclusive community or accessible community around the outdoor culture make it easier to find and foster deeper connections with like-minded individuals. I've found it hard to make really close friends here with similar core values. I know you're out there! I'm excited with the positive changes and growth that Kelowna is experiencing now.

What do you think makes Kelowna great?
Access to freshly grown food, minimal big city crazy traffic, access to water, close airport.

What are 3 things on your bucket list?
1. Finish writing my book this year
2. Break 3 hours in a marathon (running)
3. Go on a yoga/surfing retreat

Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I have my Master's in Electrical Engineering and I can play several musical instruments.

How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
All of the above! IG @sonyalooney1 Twitter @sonyalooney FB Sonya Looney

<who> Photo Credit: Sonya Looney
What is the name of your business/organization?

I have multiple businesses. I am a keynote speaker, a writer/author, own an apparel/lifestyle brand called Moxy & Grit (; have a top 100 podcast called The Sonya Looney Show, and manage myself as a pro cyclist.

Why did you get into/start this business?
These are all things I'm passionate about and fulfil my purpose of wanting to help people be better and live more positive, empowered lives.

What is the goal of your business?
To help others live high performance, inspired lives.

What has been your biggest struggle either at work or in life?
I have so many ideas and it's hard to manage/balance it all, especially being an entrepreneur and training/racing/travelling full time as a professional athlete.

If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I would do things the same because I've learned so much from my mistakes. Resilience comes from getting back up again and choosing to learn and be better.

<who> Photo Credit: Sonya Looney
What do you always find yourself saying?
Limits live in our minds!

Tell us your best piece of life advice.
For most things, we have a choice. If you say "I can't" do something, it's you choosing not to do it. We can do just about anything we want, it's up to us to find a way to make it work and commit to the process.

If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
Thich Nhat Hanh- he is a Buddhist monk and has incredible knowledge and insight. I love his books and think there is so much to learn from him.

Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
Supporting local business helps attract more of that culture. Also, local businesses seem to care more about their consumers!

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Becoming World Champion in endurance mountain biking in 2015 and generally- just being able to live my dream life!

Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
Charity Gerbrandt! She gives back to the Kelowna community and is super inspiring with her creativity and work ethic.

<who> Photo Credit: Sonya Looney
My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Matt Ewonus

We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE.

In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition of the people, businesses, and organizations that help make our city great. Thank you, Kelowna!

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