I never really understood why I decided to go down the path that I have when it comes to my work and my passion. Until I was recently asked that exact question….
Throughout school I’d always participated in sports – netball, basketball, tennis, soccer, swimming and calisthenics. However, my love of movement and exercise really developed when I came across Aerobics Oz Style (yup… I know!). I’d drag my sister out of bed at 6am to do it with me. My Mum got me a combat style work-out video that I could do any time, at home in the lounge room. I loved it – I loved how it made me feel.
I could do it whenever I liked, I wasn’t in competition with anyone else, I used my brain, my body and I could feel the positive influences trickle into other parts of my life. I think I did it every day during the school holidays – because it was so fun! My mood improved, I wanted to eat healthier, drink more water, move more in general and I got excited when I felt the workouts become easier (I was getting fitter & stronger).
When I was 16 I injured my knee playing netball. After an arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) to “clean it up”, I was told that in fact I had torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and would need a knee reconstruction. I was overwhelmed and annoyed that it had come to such a significant injury and surgery. But, possibly more telling was the relief I felt at not having to continue with netball (the politics and unspoken pressure never suited me).
My recovery from surgery wasn’t all smooth sailing, and admittedly neither was my rehabilitation. Perhaps mostly because I was 16 and I didn’t really understand the importance of rehab, both for me in the moment, and me in the future. I know my mediocre rehab efforts have impacted me more recently in needing to improve motor patterns and biomechanics to help manage niggly injuries.
I never want others to regret their rehab or the fact they even had an injury – this can often be a fantastic opportunity for growth and development. You come out wiser, stronger and capable of anything.
My Mum is also a HUGE inspiration for why I do what I do. When my Mum was a young child, an accident resulted in her becoming a below knee amputee. I have seen how a physical limitation can impact a person’s entire life – it’s not just physical. It’s mental and emotional, and other people can be very insensitive to this.
Having said that – I have also seen just how incredible the human body is, how capable it truly is regardless of the physical limitations that may be present. My Mum is a superstar.
In my early career after graduating from uni, I worked at my local gym and helped set up the over 50’s exercise program (Strength For Life). Little did I know at the time just how rewarding this work would be!
I helped participants not only feel comfortable to come into a gym environment, but also improve their capacity for general daily activities (like getting out of the car and stepping onto the curb). It really was about celebrating the small wins, such as increasing a bike workout from 30 seconds to 1 minute. The relationships I built with these wise humans were so special, and the growth I gained professionally was invaluable.
In my mid-twenties, I lived overseas for about five and a half years. During this time I traveled and worked, and had some of the most incredible experiences of my life. However, I also faced some serious health challenges (adrenal fatigue, anxiety/panic attack, gut & liver issues, chronic eczema) that led me to make significant lifestyle changes, including eventually moving back to Australia. My health and fitness became a high priority. But it was more than just a journey of eating better and exercising more – this was looking at how food, stress, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, caffeine and my environment can impact my body both internally and externally. Gaining a deep understanding of what I (& my body) need to function at its very best has been so empowering.
This has helped me understand that exercise and movement is just a small aspect of leading a healthful and happy life. I now love helping guide clients to look at their ‘health’ with a holistic perspective in order to gain the absolute most from our sessions, and from all that life has to offer.
I have a love of running and lifting weights! Both are not only great for me physically but also mentally. Running certainly never used to come easily for me (it still doesn’t necessarily) – I hated it in school and in my early 20s! It was hard, uncomfortable and I never felt like I was very good at it. It wasn’t until I went through an emotional upheaval in my early 20’s that I began running regularly. I used it as an escape, a distraction and time for me to mentally process. All of a sudden, I began to really enjoy running and since then, I’ve run two half marathons!
It’s so interesting to reflect on the past and how that has shaped the kind of person, and Exercise Physiologist I am today. I am so grateful that I’m one of the minorities who can genuinely say they love what they do for work. I have the privilege of helping people achieve their goals, improve their health and…just feel better. It’s small, yet oh-so powerful.
2023 update…. reading back over the original blog post from 2018 has been a wonderful reflection. Plus a time to pause and look at all that I’ve added to my skill set and passion for movement and exercise.
Since 2018 I’ve worked with 100’s of women (and men) to exercise safer, smarter and more effectively for their bone health. Including helping clients improve their bone density and, most importantly, take charge of their Osteoporosis in an incredibly proactive way. It is an honor to speak with our clients each week and learn about their story of exercise and Osteoporosis, and how it has changed their lives – for the better. I love leading our team of talented Exercise Physiologists who really are experts in exercise for Osteoporosis.
I’ve also taken on the most physically demanding challenge of my life …. I had a baby! I was already working with women through pregnancy and into postpartum to exercise and keep strong. Now, having been through this myself I am SO VERY passionate and adamant that women must be supported to keep exercising; and that resistance training is a non-negotiable.
I often said, and still say “I don’t know how women do this (pregnancy/motherhood) without being/keeping strong”. The physical demands placed on women’s bodies during this time is significant and often an afterthought. I guarantee, if you keep moving and incorporate some kind of resistance training into your routine during and after pregnancy you will feel better for it – physically, mentally, emotionally.
Another change since 2018 is that I am now working with a group of incredible humans. The Studio team has grown (and changed) to meet the needs of our wonderful clients. Our Exercise Physiologists are not only highly knowledgeable and professional, they are passionate and driven to provide the unique EP Studio experience – it’s more than just exercise, it’s the space & the feel (I really hope clients reading this agree with me here and are nodding away). We work hard as a team to grow our skill base and ensure we are really seeing and hearing you & what you need. I am proud of our team and love that we all get to make a difference to people’s lives everyday – plus they’re a fun group to hang out with!
I look forward to updating you all in another 5 years – haha!
Original post – May 2018
Updated July 2023