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Catch You On The Rebound

(1 Vote)

Annik Nayler

Professional football player, firefighter, boxing coach, Occupational Health and Safety Officer, extreme sports TV show host, fisherman, multi-sport athlete, fitness champion, bikini model, moose caller… hold a second… Bikini Model?

“I’ve always been a Tomboy, first-and-foremost,” said Annik Nayler, 35 from her residence in Hollywood, Florida. “If I was not a Tomboy growing up in Fort McMurray, I would have not gone into the fire academy or I would not have got into a career in fitness, to put me where I am today.”

Born in Fort McMurray, October 6, 1980, to Gary and Denise Nayler, Annik was an all-around athlete at Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School while wearing the Trappers uniform and graduating in 1999.

Nayler, like her older sister Elaine, would represent our city at the Arctic Winter Games in the sport of futsal (indoor soccer), 1996 and 1992 respectively.

At age 19, Nayler would travel west to become a volunteer firefighter in Surrey, British Columbia and by fate; be introduced to two women that would change the direction of her life.

“While living in B.C., I met two women by the name of Sandy Wickham and Michelle Wiseman who were fitness competitors and part of the Lean Motion fitness team and they helped me train, diet and place second in my very first fitness show and that’s when fitness became a passion and a part of my life,” said Nayler, who would go on to become one of the top fitness competitors not only in Canada but the world, winning the prestigious Fitness America and Model America titles.

Having also graced the cover of six magazines, including Curves, Muscle Mag and Flex, she would relocate to Florida in 2007 and find a sponsorship with Nutrex.

She would also meet her future husband James Grage, a co-founder of BPI Sports, “a leading developer, formulator and marketer of branded sports nutrition supplements.”

Grage’s own life story could be made into a movie.

It was April 14, 1999 that Grage, then 24, crashed his 1974 Porsche 911 after swerving to miss a pheasant that had flown across the road.

A broken pelvis, both femurs, both arms were just part of the consequence. In a nutshell. He was a mess.

Through trials and tribulations, he rebuilt himself physically and mentally and through this process came the inspiration to launch BPI Sports.

Along with Nayler, they share their home with children James, 8 and a daughter Minka, 3.

On Bleacher Report, a popular sports website, Nayler was ranked No. 16 of the Top 30 Tough and Sexy Sports Hotties in the world of women’s professional sports when she played defensive end for the Miami Caliente in the Lingerie Football League during the 2009-2010 season.

“It was real football,” reminisced Nayler of her time wearing jersey No. 18 on the gridiron, and at 5-foot-6 weighing in at 130 pounds was the smallest defensive end in the 10 team league. ”People had this misconception that it was just a bunch of hot chicks running around in lingerie. We had more than 135 girls try out and the practices were crazy. One of the girls trying out had run in the Olympics. It was rough and hard.

“When people came to the games (Caliente played their home games at the 19,000 seat BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida) they’d see full blown tackles, one-handed catches. There were athletes out there.”

Currently Nayler, aside from being a full time mother, coaches “circle zone training” which includes “high intensive interval training,” twice a week during the evenings.

She admits that she has not been back to Fort McMurray in several years but did come back to Alberta in 2011 for the funeral of her sister Elaine, who had died in her sleep at the age of 33 due to heart problems.

“It (sister’s death) taught me to live life and be happy and stay healthy. Live for the moment. Not to sweat the small stuff. My dad always said I was a butterfly and that I wanted to spread my wings.”

Catch you on the rebound. 


Curtis J. Phillips has been a sports journalist in print/electronic mediums since 1976. A strong advocate of volunteerism, he is a founding father of numerous local events and organizations including the Challenge Cup and Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Phillips is also recognized internationally as a sports historian.