Meet Leanne Larsen: How she went from Argo's cheerleader to competing on The Amazing Race Heroes Edition
Tell us a little bit about yourself - for example, growing up what were your interests?
Growing up I was interested in such a mix of things. You could catch me playing outside climbing to the top of a tree, being social with my friends or following whatever my older brother and his friends did. I also loved being inside and spending time alone. Anything art & crafts related was so fun for me or styling my Barbie’s and myself in amazing new outfits. I was always interested in things that kept me active or let me be creative.
Have they changed or did you always have a concept in your mind of what you wanted to achieve?
I feel like I’m always growing and evolving but if I compare myself now to when I was growing up I’d say the foundation is still the same. I’m still active and I’m still very creative. I for sure don’t like to sit still so you’ll always catch me keeping myself busy with something. I knew I always wanted to do something creative as well as help others so I’m still working daily towards achieving these goals.
What’s your day to day life like in 2019?
Every single day is a new adventure for me and that is my favorite part! I work for a Toronto based staffing agency, Cotton Candy Event Staffing and have never loved a job more. Working in events has allowed me to grow so much as an individual as I learn a new skill set every single day. I went from being a Brand Ambassador when the company started in 2014 to a Field Manager and now I’m in office as a Co-coordinator and have never been happier. It keeps me super busy which is what I love. When I’m not working I like to spend time with those close to me or take some time to myself to relax. I am really focusing on personal development lately as well.
What habits/ ways of thinking have been key to your own personal success in your life?
In the last year I have really learned to just trust the process and I live by the phrase everything happens for a reason. As someone who has anxiety and has struggled with depression I’ve really learned to just take things one step at a time. After spending time away from my real day to day life to be on The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition I came back with such a clear mind set. Work hard for what you want but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right away. Nothing great ever comes easy! My mind set before the show was always to be perfect at everything or I’d be ashamed that I failed. After being eliminated on the show I realized that I could be proud of myself for my accomplishments rather than be upset for not winning. I walked away knowing I gave it my all and since that day I work on having a positive mindset every single day.
What helps you maintain your drive, preventing burn-out? What motivates you each day to do what you’re doing?
I have taught myself to listen to my body and my mind and when they tell me to slow down, I slow down. I used to be way too obsessed with being involved in everything and always saying yes to the point that I had 4 jobs and sleep wasn’t a priority. I’ve now realized that my health, in all aspects, is the most important thing. If I’m not healthy I’m going to miss out on everything I wanted to be involved in anyways. Now I pick and choose what I pour my energy into instead of spreading it thin across multiple things. I’m motivated to do what I do everyday because I genuinely love it. I feel like if you don’t genuinely love what your doing you need to move on from it and find where your true passion lies.
How do you balance relationships- whether it be your friends, family or what not?
Everyone in my life knows how hard working I am and dedicated to doing what I love. I have the best support system hands down which has taken years to build but I appreciate every single person in my life so much. With the nature of my job since its not a typical 9-5, those close to me have learned that my schedule is all over the place and they are all so understanding if I’m not always available. But with that being said I always make sure to find the time for the ones I love.
What sparked your interest in trying out for the Argos cheer team?
I was a competitive cheerleader in high school, which was always a dream of mine when I was younger. When I hit middle school I was the shyest person ever and there's no way I thought I’d end up on a cheer team. But I found myself competing for 3 years, becoming a co-captain of the team my senior year and then continuing to cheer on an all-star team in college. Once I decided to retire from competitive cheerleading I realized I missed the team aspect and was looking for something new. When I came across Argos Cheer and saw first hand the sisterhood they had I knew I wanted to be apart of it. Little did I know it would be the one thing that changed my entire life! I developed confidence, I was finally able to find the courage to conquer my fear of public speaking and I formed lifelong friendships.
What are some of the most memorable moments as a Toronto Argonauts cheerleader?
Hands down most memorable moment for me would be The Huddle Up Bullying Prevention Program that I spent my 3 off seasons being apart of. This is the one thing that really changed my entire life. This program is so eye opening and taught me so much but also allowed me to connect with and give back to our youth in the GTA. Winning the Grey Cup in 2017 was also a memorable moment and that Championship ring isn’t so bad either. I truly cherish the time I spent on the team. It opened so many doors for me and was the foundation for the next chapter in my life.
In 2018 you participated on The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition. What was that like?
Being part of The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition was the most life changing and amazing (no pun intended) experience to date. To this day I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. It feels like a dream that I haven’t woken up from yet. Being apart of the cast of Heroes from across Canada is something I’m so incredibly grateful for. We were able to travel, learn, grow and connect with others and ourselves across Canada and the globe. I learned a lot about myself during that time and those memories are some that I will always hold close to my heart.
What was the most memorable experience of The Amazing Race Canada for you?
The most memorable experience of The Amazing Race Canada would be when we won the first leg of the race. We knew people would target us as a weak team and we played that up as best we could so they would think we weren’t going to be tough competition. We were never focused on winning every single leg but once that victory happened, we knew we had to keep pushing hard because a target was on us now. It lit a fire in us and reminded us why we were here, for the kids! We had planned on donating a portion of the money, had we won, back to the Huddle Up program so it could reach more schools and help more students.
Do you feel like you got to see a new perspective of Canada after being on the show?
Canada is so beautiful! No matter where we went I reminded myself to stop for a second and take it all in. The cities and towns we were able to visit had so much character and were filled me the most helpful and kind people. It made my love for Canada grow that much more.
What's the biggest thing you learned well being on the show?
I learned to trust my instinct and listen to my mind & body. We were eliminated due to a penalty we took for a challenge that caused an anxiety attack. I remember telling myself you have to try again. But in my gut I knew I had to do what was best for my health long term and just take a knee. The anxiety I would’ve felt for days, maybe weeks after was just not worth it for me and for once I truly listened and it was the best thing I ever did.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
I listen to just about everything. My music taste depends on my mood but I’d say 99% of the time you’ll catch me listening to something I can sing along to (not that you would ever want to hear it). It’s mainly a mix of Hip Hop & Pop I would say.
What would you classify your personal fashion style as?
My personal fashion style is for sure mood based as well. I would say most of the time I go for comfort but still fashionable. You will catch me dressed up from time to time but these days I mostly keep it casual. Jeans, sneakers and a simple T is my go to.
Any favourite fashion designers that I might catch you wearing?
House of Hayla heels and sneakers are my go to for footwear for sure. As for clothing Levis is my denim choice right now and obviously some comfortable Peace Collective gear, the crew neck sweaters are a staple in my closet.
What's one thing you would really like to do this year?
Travel as much as possible is on my to-do list this year for sure. I caught the travel bug after the show and have the urge to see some new places within Canada and also abroad. I barely scratched the surface while on the show so I may have to leave Toronto for a bit to see what else is out there but I know I can always come home.