Run TO, Shop TO: Heather Gardner of Kardia Athletica

Our new “Run TO, Shop TO” blog series aims to shine a spotlight on Toronto-area runners who are also passionate small business owners. We have all heard about the challenges facing small businesses as they re-open and operate safely through the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is our hope that by sharing these stories, we can rally and encourage the running community to shop locally. We are all in this together – let’s support our fellow runners!


You probably know Heather Gardner from seeing her and her run crew out on the MGT on a Wednesday night or Saturday morning, their enthusiastic cheer stations at races, or her motivating Instagram presence, @catchingheather. A passionate runner, Heather has been dedicated to the sport for over a decade now. In 2009 she transitioned from a very active job as a health and physical education teacher, to a sedentary one of consulting on health and phys.ed. It was at this time that she got a personal trainer, someone who has become a real mentor and close family friend, and it was the trainer’s idea that Heather try running. Since then, she has never looked back, running 11 marathons, including NYC three times, in the past ten years!

Photos by Jess Baumung.

But more than a recreational runner, Heather is the founder and owner of a fitness studio and community in Toronto. Back in 2013, she started @Tribe_Fitness as one of Toronto’s inaugural run crews. “I sent out a tweet asking people if they wanted to join me for a run, and to my surprise, people did. They invited their friends, who invited their friends, and we just grew from there. In 2017 we opened TRIBE as a studio, a hub for our free crew runs, our coached race team, as well as indoor cycling, and yoga classes.”

This week, Heather’s studio has gone through a pretty big and positive change, one which demonstrates real leadership in the fitness community. “Our goal has always been about community, and building community through running and fitness. When we heard that our name did not have that same meaning for all members of our community, it because our focus to work towards changing our name as quickly as possible. On Wednesday September 9th we made the decision to change our name to Kardia, (@KardiaAthletic). It combines our love of community with our love of cardio (a.k.a. running).” Heather is so grateful for all of the support that she has received from the Toronto running community throughout this time of change and growth.

With so much of her energy dedicated to running the studio, leading runs, and teaching classes, it is a wonder that Heather finds time for her own training – but train she does! For her, scheduling is key; if she has an event to train for or a training plan to stick to, she can schedule her day, get into a routine, and stick with it. “It certainly isn’t always easy to put my training above work or my clients. I know that it makes me a better person when I can dedicate that time to myself.”

So Heather, how can the Toronto running community support you and KardiaAthletica, particularly during this challenging time?

“Shopping local and sweating local is important for every small business right now. We know at @KardiaAthletica that not everyone is ready to come back to a studio workout, so we’re offering all of our classes simultaneously online. So, from the comfort of your home you can join us for a 50-minute foam rolling class, yoga class, or body weight HIIT workout for only $10 or $15 in studio. We’ve got over 50 classes weekly, so check out our schedule at www.kardiaathletica.com.”