Celebrating Strength and Possibility with Phoenix Alazam

A lifelong athlete and longtime Chicagoan, celebrity trainer and fitness entrepreneur Phoenix Alazam grew up in a bustling, active household with 13 siblings and two parents who inspired her athletic and entrepreneurial pursuits from an early age. “We always just took things outdoors. We weren’t homebodies, we loved adventures,” Phoenix says. “We loved nature and climbing trees, running, swimming, basketball, baseball, all those things. Our parents just really allowed us to pursue our passions from an early age, and I think that’s what really helped me figure out what I wanted to do as an adult.”


“I wanted to be the best at everything I played,” she laughs. “But for me, ultimately, both life and work needed also to be filled with passion, fun, and excitement.”


While Phoenix trained to be a top-tier competitor her entire life, it wasn’t until she found her strength tested in unexpected ways that she discovered the way to her current path. In February 2014, while she was 25 and still early in her career, toying with acting and modeling, Phoenix was leaving a casual dinner when a reckless driver ran into her car and rattled the foundation of everything that she thought she knew about herself. “We had the right of way and were going straight when they hit us, head-on. It was a life-changing moment for me.”


Thankfully, she walked away from the accident without any broken bones but sustained several injuries that took months to heal, including a tear in her left eye and several wounds all over her body. “It was about eight months of rehab to get my vision back and to get everything working again,” Phoenix shares. “I couldn’t open my eye, and I couldn’t work. It was incredibly scary because I couldn’t see anything and I just had to stay optimistic, work hard in therapy, and hope that it would get better.”


The crash shook Phoneix’s life in more ways than one, however. “It lead me to ask myself, well, what are you gonna do now? You can’t just do the things you’re used to doing.”


“And that’s when I was like, you know what, I’m going to study to recover. I’ve always loved to help educate others. I’m going to get certified in personal training.”


For the five years since the accident, Phoenix has built her career as a trainer from the ground up. She understands first-hand what it’s like to start from square one to know how strong you can truly become. She notes: “With my clients, personal training is just like it sounds: it’s personal. So I really try to take things to a real and emotional level—I try to dig deep and understand their why’s and understand their excuses. I try to understand where they’re coming from mentally and if they’re ready to move forward with achieving incredible lifestyle and physical changes.”


“I love being able to instill real confidence, whatever that looks like, into my clients and to help them ultimately achieve their best self. That might mean getting a better job, going out on a date, buying themselves a ring or beautiful earrings to celebrate—whatever encourages and motivates them to celebrate their own self-worth. Ultimately, it brings me so much joy and inspiration to see a client making huge improvements and build their self-confidence.”


Phoenix herself knows just how important it is to applaud both her big wins and quieter successes as she continues to grow both personally and professionally. “So far, my biggest career highlight has been going completely independent and starting my own business. Taking that leap of faith was probably the most frightening thing I’ve ever done, but I also felt total confidence in myself; I knew I would succeed and was only scared to start because I already knew what I could accomplish.”


And sometimes, it’s the smaller moments that refill our souls and strengthen us, too. “For me, everyday, I celebrate even my smallest accomplishments. A lot of times we look to the future, and we look to the end of the week, but we don’t focus on the present,” she shares. “I celebrate even the moments when I just get a little peace of mind for myself; If I don’t skip my meditation in the morning or if I don’t miss a run that’s for myself—those are special for me.”


As a celebration of her inner strength, Phoenix found a special piece by Anna Sheffield at Chicago’s Asrai Garden to wear as an everyday reminder of her dreams and accomplishments. “I bought myself a diamond ring as a reminder of my independence. It’s a reminder to keep going. It’s a reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to!”


“I am real. I am compassionate. And this natural diamond ring is a symbol of that.”


Special thanks to Phoenix Alazam for sharing her story and to Asrai Garden in the West Loop for welcoming us into their lovely store. Ring by Anna Sheffield. All photographs by Daniel Stewart.