Friday, July 31, 2015

A personal trainer and her Mojo

Have you ever wondered where a personal trainer gets her Mojo?

Australian Shelley Lask is a former couch potato, a former MuayThai fighter in Thailand and now battling negativity in the fitness industry.

Q: HOW DID YOU GET INTO SPORT?
In school I just hated it. I got teased about my knees turning in when I ran and I now know I had undiagnosed exercise-induced asthma. At the time I figured everyone's chest felt tight when they ran.

As soon as it was no longer compulsory, I stopped. As far as I was concerned my body was just a thing that carried my head around. But when I was 21 I saw a video of a Pride FC (MMA) promotion and I was transfixed!

I decided to go to an MMA gym by myself (after asking friends to no avail!), and try to learn MuayThai and Brasilian Jiu Jitsu so I could fight.

I started out doing two sessions a week, then three, then four, and then next thing I knew I was at the gym almost every day, loving the training more than anything else in my life. Mind you, it never occurred to me that it was a sport, I was just going to learnt to fight.

Q: YOU JUST GOT IN THERE?
When they told me I had to run before training if I wanted to fight, I started running. Looking back, I had zero background conditioning and some pretty glaring postural issues but I just kind of willed my way through everything. I was blissfully unaware of my own limitations.



Q: HOW DID THAT CHANGE YOU, EVEN BEFORE YOU FOUGHT? 

Training taught me I was capable of even more than I thought. Every time I thought I'd exhausted myself my trainer would ask me to do ten more kicks and they were always there. I became amazed at how powerful my body really was.

It was nice to be doing something where my natural aggression was a virtue, being sturdy was a virtue, not being afraid of being hit was a virtue and being stubborn was a virtue. As someone who'd always struggled with depression and anxiety I also noticed my mind was clearer and my mood was better.

(Shelley fell so in love with MuayThai that she quit her job in Melbourne and moved to Thailand to train. That’s where we met. She spent 18 months there; training, fighting and eventually working with the World MuayThai Council (WMC). She then retrained at home with the Australian Fitness Academy.) 

Q: HOW WAS IT COMING HOME AS “FIGHTER SHELLEY”?
It was kind of funny being "the fit one" after having been known as the person who hated walking to the train station. But by then being physically active was such a huge positive part of my life that I knew I'd changed forever. 

Exercise is now just a fun thing I do to keep my mind positive and my body energetic and strong.

Q: HOW DOES MUAYTHAI COLOUR YOUR WORK WITH CLIENTS? 
Combat sports gaining popularity even with women who don't want to fight is really exciting to me, because often women aren't encouraged to display aggression or physical dominance.

Getting a feel for how much power and force your body can generate using proper technique can be very empowering. Of course you can build strength and fitness but I think what's really magic is that feeling of being "in the moment" with those more primal feelings and movements. You feel really alive!

Q: WHAT’S YOUR MINDSET NOW COMPARED TO FIGHTING IN THAILAND?

When I was doing MuayThai and boxing, I didn't really have an understanding of how physical conditioning works. I’d always just trained as much as I possibly could, as often as I possibly could. I thought if I was physically capable of keeping going, then I wasn't done yet. If I saw someone else doing something, then the only reason I couldn't do it was because I wasn't trying hard enough, or being tough minded enough.

I got all the classic overuse injuries, like shin-splints and Achilles tendonitis, and they plagued me every six months or so. I saw that as a failing of my body not keeping up with my will. I've got a much greater respect for and appreciation of my body since taking the time to learn about how it really works.

Q: WHERE DID YOUR BUSINESS NAME ‘BODY POSITIVE’ COME FROM?
I've seen and experienced first-hand the body-shaming culture the fitness industry is dominated by and the harm it can cause and I think we can do better. I want to see all kinds of people experience how awesome exercising can make them feel. It shouldn’t be a punishment for not assimilating to the dominant aesthetic ideal.

When the only images we see in these "fitspo" pictures are thin, conventionally attractive women and muscular (but still lean) conventionally-attractive men, it can seem like maybe that's the only way that fit and healthy should look. But it just isn't.

For more Body Positive inspiration, find Lask online at:
www.bodypositivehf.com.au 


AND 

Facebook: Bodypositivehealthandfitness

If you have any questions for Lask, leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - photos via PaddleSurf Ireland Facebook: at the World Championships 2015.
                                    Ireland came 4th in the team comp.








 More Wordless Wednesday bloggers here.     And here on Image-in-ing

(Disclaimer - family member involved #proudsister) 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Technology and women's boxing in Australia

This week's video is a great insight into the difference science is making to women’s sport, and specifically how the lure of an Olympic medal is changing women’s boxing.

Set in the Australian Institute of Sport, the clip follows boxer Sarah McFarlane as scientists examine her punches. Women’s boxing officially became an Olympic sport at London2012 and this focus is one of the results.

One sports scientist spells it out in this clip, saying: ‘All of the top ten countries win medal in Combat Sports (at the Olympics) except one, and that is Australia.’ And if you know anything about Australian’s obsession with sport, you’ll know that’s a red rag to a bull.

I visited the AIS in Canberra in 2008 and pretty much swooned with envy at the facilities. I was training in an inner-city Sydney boxing-gym at the time (it closed for a week following a shooting around that time. Slight contrast).

The training we see McFarlane doing is clinical and precise. Boffins measure the power of each punch,
looking to see which stance is best. They measure her heart-beat, her breathing to see as McFarlane says if she is relaxed and how that is impacting on her power.

Coming from an Australian Rules Football background, McFarlane was drafted into the AIS as part of a clear strategy for Australia to beef up their medals. Read more about her here in the SMH.

Have a look at the clip – I’m interested to know what people think of this type of training? Have you experienced this? Is it something you’d like to try?

Thanks to Diagnonal View for alerting me to this.
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