Fitness isn't just functional, it's also personal - something many of our Fempower team have learned first-hand. While on the surface of things, the fitness industry can be worryingly shallow and aesthetics-obsessed, it's important to recognise the benefits of exercise and keeping active beyond bulging biceps and toned tummies.
As a group we're proud to have more inspiring stories among our members than you can shake a stick at, so we thought we'd share a few with you below.
WHEN FITNESS IS LITERALLY A LIFESAVER
Toral's story is one which puts trivial worries about 'fat days' or getting a 'bikini body' in their place. Toral was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29 - a moment where she felt "her whole world was falling down around me."
Before her diagnosis, she'd been training for triathlons and was determined to keep going with it, despite the exhausting process of cancer treatment. Now, Toral has been clear for over four years and attributes her recovery to early diagnosis, positive attitude, training and healthy diet. If having her as part of Fempower wasn't enough, she now uses her own very personal knowledge on the role of diet and good nutrition in cancer prevention to educate others. (And her post-Toughest food stash was better than we could ever have imagined!)
More on her recipes to come!
THE HAPPY MARRIAGE OF MENTAL & PHYSICAL STRENGTH
Sabrina is our pocket rocket. She was one of the brave few to attempt the final hurdle at Toughest - and by far the closest to getting there.
But with a history of severe anxiety, life hasn't always been plain sailing. As her A level exams finished, instead of the expected excitement for adventures ahead - both work and play - anxiety filled that hole instead, and made her feel "that my body and I were two separate entities fighting every day." Sabrina describes the crushing moment she was prescribed anti-depressants as "feeling entirely hopeless." After 11 years of taking tablets, she's now off the medication and attributes that victory to the role exercise now plays in her life:
"Anxiety leaves you with nothing but doubt, that you are incapable of getting better. Exercise rewards me with victories every single day. I still suffer from anxiety, but I know myself now, know what I have achieved. I feel proud of my body and listen to what it tells me. We are one again."
SAY 'DO ONE' TO DEPRESSION
Fitness has helped at least a further two of our Fempower squad with their stress levels.
In the past five years, Annalisa has been in the horrifying position of being the victim of two violent attacks. Alongside traditional PTSD treatment, she credits exercise as being its own form of additional therapy. We'll always be there for her - be it through burpees, or just being a girl gang who rally around each other.
And Chloe may be new to our squad, but her worries with OCD and depression are nothing new to society. Fitness is now a key part of her life, and a key part of her health and happiness.
SO, WHAT'S YOUR STORY?
Whatever the problem - body dysmorphia, depression, the pressure to be a certain shape or size, mental or physical issues - Fempower is here for YOU. So, what's your story and when will you be joining us?