By Chelsey Romain
Trish Stratus walked away from the wrestling ring the same way she walked into it.
After six years as a World Wrestling Entertainment superstar diva, Stratus retired from the world of choke holds, diving clotheslines and spinebusters.
It wasn't her plan to spend those years in the ring but, according to Stratus, it may have been in the stars.
In March 2000, five months after she walked into Sully's Gym in Toronto where she said she wanted to wrestle, Stratus made her debut with WWE.
Six years later, she found herself in the ring in her hometown saying goodbye to a life that was never planned.
Stratus told The Daily Press it was her plan from a young age to be a doctor, but a strike at York University put her studies on hold.
"I keep saying right time, right place," Stratus said during her visit to Timmins where she signed autographs and met with fans during the annual Sportsman Show. "I believe in destiny, so maybe it was meant to be."
While on break from school, Stratus was approached to be a fitness model. That eventually led to a visit to Off the Record, and an Internet rumour that she had been scouted by WWE chairman Vince McMahon.
"It was totally false," she said, "but I figured that if they did call, I was going to prepare the best possible package I could."
It was on that day in March that Stratus did finally make her debut in the former World Wrestling Federation ring. She said at first she was simply the eye candy that followed the real wrestlers into the arena, but eventually was given the chance to become more physical and evolve as a wrestler.
"I really feel like the fans were able to bond with me along the way because they truly got to watch me grow and become the wrestler I became in the end," she said.
Over the years, she had the opportunity to be a part of some of the most interesting storylines and in some main event matches with the organization's highest profile athletes, including Triple H, the Rock and McMahon himself.
"To be there with these high profile people, with the buildup of how Vince was treating me badly and tagging with The Rock, was amazing," she said. "They trusted me to be in a main event match and be a part of those important story-lines."
By the time she retired, Stratus had been able to work with all the women wrestlers she had wanted to and walked away with more than a few title belts, including being seven-time WWE Women's Champion.
"It seems that now-a-days, this is an option for kids, and you hear little girls saying they want to be a diva when they grow up," Stratus said. "We created this amazing thing with the women's division."
But like any athletics, professional wrestling can and will take its toll on the body, and Stratus experienced many times the risks involved with the sport.
She's also seen the tragedy that seems to come with the job. Over the past several years, the WWE has lost superstars Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Andrew "Test" Martin, her former partner, back when she managed T&A.
"Test obviously hit closer to home. We worked together and we were the same age," she said of the wrestler who died on March 13 from an accidental overdose. "Apparently, it's the reality of the business and I don't know what the answer is.
"It's a shame and I was as shocked as everyone."
But it was one injury in particular that brought Stratus to the next stage of her life.
At one point, a trip to the doctor revealed Stratus had a herniated disk.
Time spent in physiotherapy wasn't working and when fellow women's champion Lita told her how yoga had helped her, Stratus gave it a shot and it turned her whole life around.
"Immediately I felt a difference," she said. "I totally rehabilitated my back and there was no re-occurrence of the injury."'
She said that yoga even helped her take a different approach when living the crazy lifestyle that comes with professional wrestling. While it still meant constantly being on the go, yoga helped her take a step back to reexamine things.
"The 300 days on the road were still happening, but it just didn't seem that crazy for some reason," she said.
Her back may have been on the mend, but a dislocated shoulder had sidelined her and the time to re-sign her five-year contract had come up and Stratus had to make the decision on whether or not to continue.
"After six years, I was tired and my mom had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma," she said. "My mom getting sick and knowing that I couldn't go with her to chemotherapy if I was on the road was kind of the deciding factor.
"I look back and I never feel like I walked away thinking 'gosh, what did I do?' I feel it was the right time and the right decision."
Although she has returned to the ring at special events since her retirement, the 33-year-old has now taken her passion for yoga and turned it into a business. Last year she turned her signature move into her own studio, Stratusphere.
"I thought one day it would be neat to open a yoga studio, and then I though why one day, why not today?" she said. "I want to try and enhance people's lives. If people only knew how great it made you feel."
More information on Stratus and her new business venture can be found at www.stratusphereyoga.com