Throughout her career she’s appeared on more than 100 magazine covers, and we couldn’t be more thrilled she’s finally gracing our latest issue. Trish Stratus has been called the “biggest drawing diva” in wrestling, and for good reason: She is a quintessential trailblazer who played an immensely vital role in drawing women into watching and participating in the world of sports entertainment. Editor in-chief Lisa van de Geyn jumped on a call with the Canadian icon to learn about her love of fitness, how she got Ninto a male-dominated industry, her various television projects and how she conserves energy (even after a busy day) for her beautiful family.

By Lisa van de Geyn | Photography by Natasha Gerschon | Styling by Jenna Bitove-Naumovich | Hair by Melanie Jackie, MUAVEE | Makeup by Melanie Viger, MUAVEE | Flowers by The Rosarium | Location: Hotel X Toronto


Vibrant, sparkling, luminous, vivacious, perfectly poised. These aren’t adjectives I commonly toss around to describe people, especially folks I’ve never actually met, but from the moment Trish Stratus answered my call for our good old-fashioned phone interview, I couldn’t get enough of her exceptionally infectious energy. My colleague Jennifer Douglas, Living Luxe’s creative director, said pretty much the same thing when I later gushed about my hourlong chat with Trish and her effervescent personality. “She was the exact same way on-set,” Jennifer says, mentioning the photo shoot she directed to create our stunning cover and the accompanying images for this story. “She was super confident, funny, really classy and sexy. She’s intoxicating. And she has the best smile.”


Throw in a few more descriptive words that might sound boastful but are entirely accurate for someone so humble — hardworking, devoted, diligent, ambitious and motivated, come to mind — and you’ll have a genuine idea of who the Canadian icon truly is, when she’s not kicking butt in the ring or judging entertainers on the most recent season of Canada’s Got Talent. She’s unpretentious even though she’s been in the spotlight for more than two decades, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever come across a perfectionist and opportunist with a kinder spirit. “I have this innate drive to succeed and surpass expectations,” she tells me. “I guess it’s always been in me. I’m very competitive and I strive for the best. I like to be No. 1 in everything I do — best in class. But I know the work that goes into it. I don’t expect anything to be handed to me or for anything to come easily. It’s not how I’m built; I’ve put in the time and effort.”


She’s been like this since her early days. While going through a bunch of old boxes recently, Trish, 47, says she found journals she wrote when she was in grade 3. “I wrote I wanted to be a doctor — I wanted to help people. That was my goal. And I was a real keener of a student. When I focus on a goal, I’m razor sharp.” Her drive to be a physician carried on throughout high school, when, aside from achieving top-level grades, she spent time volunteering at a local hospital and even held a job in the medical field. At Toronto’s York University (not far from Richmond Hill, Ont., where she spent most of her school-age and teenage years), she continued her love of the sciences and majored in biology/chemistry, though she eventually gravitated toward kinesiology. “I really loved health and fitness, so that seemed to fit. I also enjoyed playing sports. I played soccer for Richmond Hill and made the varsity field hockey team at York.”


In 1997, when she was in her third year, the university’s professors went on strike for eight weeks and, being proactive, Trish got a part-time job at a nearby gym, where she’d train and be immersed in the fitness world while on break from school. “That’s when I was approached for fitness modelling. It wasn’t a well-known category at the time; in fact, it was basically non-existent, but it celebrated women who were fit and led a healthy lifestyle. When I was approached by a scout who was looking for women to be showcased in a new magazine called Oxygen that Robert Kennedy (the founding publisher of the top fitness magazines in the world) was publishing, I thought it would be a good opportunity,” she remembers. He soon suggested Trish get in front of the camera for a test shoot, and, not surprisingly, she nailed it. Kennedy sent her to work with a trainer in Toronto, who put her on a strict plan to refine her already near-perfect physique. And when she posed for her first ever photo shoot after three months of working with the trainer, Kennedy offered her a modelling contract on the spot. “I became exclusive to his brand and my career took off just like that,” she says. Trish was touted as the newest, hottest fitness model, and found herself immersed in a whirlwind — doing magazine signings and making appearances — by the time school was back in session. “So, I wore two hats for a while. I tried to focus on both training and studying, but it wasn’t manageable. It took my boyfriend at the time, Ron, now my husband, to say, ‘You’re 22. You won’t have this chance again to make a name for yourself.’ I decided to put school on hold and spent two years booking photo shoots all over the world.”


That’s when the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE — it was the World Wrestling Federation in those days), the largest professional wrestling company on the planet, came knocking. “It was kind of a fluke. I was doing an interview on a show on TSN promoting the magazine and a WWE promo was being filmed in the next studio. I was a huge wrestling fan — ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was my guy — and one of the only females on sports television who could talk about it. The host told me I should give it a shot,” she says. “So, ever the keener, I went home and made my own press kit with all my covers and sent it over to WWE. I ended up not hearing anything right away, but my motto in life is ‘preparedness meets opportunities,’ so I prepared. During the wait, I found a gym that offered wrestling training.” Three months after sending her information to WWE, the company expressed their interest and flew her to their headquarters in Connecticut. “I was 24, got picked up in a limo and was driven to this massive black building with a giant WWF logo on the front. When I walked in, there were posters of The Rock and The Undertaker and so many famous wrestlers. I couldn’t believe I was there,” says Trish. She sat down with the higher-ups, who she says saw her immense passion, especially after learning of her training. “I would be going into a male-dominated world — there was no real focus on the women’s division before I started. I left that meeting, went home and they sent me an offer.” That was in 1999. By March 2000, Trish made her television debut in the ring. “I took pride in knowing I was given an opportunity, but I was able to maximize it because I was prepared for it. Some people could say I was in the right place at the right time, but it was about recognizing the opportunity and preparing for it in order to take full advantage of it,” she says proudly. “Sure, it was scary and challenging tackling something I’d never been done before, but I thrive in uncharted territory. It motivates me, and I really focus on how I can make a difference.”


“My motto in life is preparedness meets opportunities.”


With a modus operandi of “do better this time than I did last time” and a desire to change the perception of how women were seen in the ring by doing more athletically than they were currently doing (catfights, hairpulling and a lot of rolling around), Trish made it her mission to be seen as a multifaceted performer — a woman who could pose for a magazine one minute and do the press conferences and media and then put on a high energy show in front of thousands of boisterous viewers the next, just like her male counterparts. By the time she retired in 2006, there were other women in the division who weren’t “sideshows” any longer — they held their own and became the main event. Trish was the first woman to main event WWE’s flagship show Monday Night Raw in 2005, a spot traditionally held by men. “There was an organic shift delegated by fans. We were became more than showpieces. Our contribution in the ring was meaningful and the top brass at WWE couldn’t deny it. We made great strides.”


Trish took time away from the WWE spotlight and was involved in a number of film and television projects, and during that time, she had two kids — a son, Max (now 9) and a daughter, Madison (now 6). When she was no longer active on the WWE roster, she started businesses, opened a yoga studio and got involved in other endeavours. But her retirement was merely a hiatus. In 2018, after being out of the ring for 12 years, she was asked to return for the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble marquee event. “I was nervous. I’d popped out two kids since I left. But I had to see if I could do it and be part of this historical moment,” she says. “Turns out, my body remembered what to do. It was like riding a bike and I liked the challenge.” Perhaps even more than her excitement returning for a major event was her anticipation to work with the current crop of talent who’d grown up admiring her — some even got into wrestling because of Trish’s influence. “The new women looked at our generation and we drove them to blaze their own trails. When girls would tell me they started wrestling because of me, it was humbling. When you’re doing your work, it’s hard to see what you’ve created behind you. Looking back, it’s pretty amazing to think I had a hand in building the business and left an impact that affected so much of the current talent.” And so, Trish once again got “the bug.” Not long after, the WWE called her the “Greatest Female Superstar of All Time,” and today, she’s come back as the heel (a villain) and fans are digging it. “They’re loving the nostalgic callback — I brought back some of my old looks and I’m having so much fun with the rivalries and generational faceoffs.”


“Whatever comes next, I’m ready for it. Everything I’ve done so far has been an absolute blast.”


Of course, it takes a village to help her accommodate her weekly schedule, run her businesses and raise her children. Her determination persevered, and with her husband and kids’ blessings (plus the appreciated help of her mother and mother-in-law), she’s pulled off a comeback. Still, when she’s not working, her laser focus narrows in on her home life. “Between 4 and 9, it’s kid time. I’m in the ring from 9 to midnight and that’s hectic, but I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic. Plus, showing my kids I’m dedicated and found a passion I turned into my work lets them see that what I do is fulfilling and makes me a more complete person.”


Aside from the WWE, building her brand, Stratusphere, and giving back to charities and organizations (especially children’s causes), Trish has dabbled in television and movies over the years, but she calls her latest project, Canada’s Got Talent one of the best jobs in the world. She and her family are huge fans of the franchise and when she was asked to serve as a judge in the second season in 2022, she jumped at the opportunity. “I never realized the skills I was cultivating along the way during my wrestling career could be applied to so many different avenues. At first, I wondered how my job as a wrestler got me this gig on a nationwide talent show. But once I saw our contestants on stage, pursuing their passion, preparing for their biggest moment in their career and possibly their life, the parallels were clear. I’ve been in that scenario as a performer and I’ve had to deliver and having that relatability with contestants who are pursuing their dreams resonates with me,” she says, adding she now sees herself as a well-rounded performer, not just a sports entertainer. “On the show, I have the power to change the trajectory of someone’s career and life. How special that is certainly isn’t wasted on me.”


With Canada’s Got Talent now greenlit for season 3 coming next year and a busy schedule being back on WWE’s main roster, Trish is, as usual, prepared for what’s in front of her and whatever comes down the road. Together with Ron (her high-school sweetheart — they’ve been together for 30 years), Trish’s focus remains ensuring her children are thriving in what they’re passionate about. Max has taken an interest in music, while Madison is following her mom’s footsteps — she’s recently gotten into soccer. “I’m really proud of them, and they’re really proud of me. Whatever comes next, I’m ready for it. And I want my kids to learn to be prepared for opportunities the way I have. Everything I’ve done so far has been an absolute blast.”

Photography by Natasha Gerschon