Aynslee Testimonial Feature Image


Whether it is lifting heavier weights in the gym or throwing personal bests…You definitely don’t have to be the best, you just have to do yourbest. 

I grew up with parents who were elite athletes, so we were always around track and field and rowing. I participated in athletics from a young age, and played hockey through my school years. I was also a rower and road cyclist in high school. I played rep hockey during my years at intermediate and throughout my first few years at high school, as well as umpiring and playing club hockey in my later high school years. I continued to umpire hockey after high school for a year or two, as an injury prevented me from playing.

After high school, I fell out of sports a little, and didn’t really do much until arriving in Australia, which is where I began to fulfil my dreams of playing contact sports. I then took up AFL (Australian Rules Football), first complementing it with baseball and touch in the off seasons, as well as some rowing coaching. I also played rugby and American Football, which is when I started doing more training outside of assigned training nights. Recently I’ve been in the United States, playing semi-professional American Football for the Chicago Force as well as playing some softball and volleyball socially. However, after suffering an injury my semi-professional football career is over, and now I’m trying to get back to my physical best again. 

Since my injury and returning to New Zealand, I am back participating in track and field with the Hamilton City Hawks, mostly working with throwing, but with a lot of speed work on the side. I like the challenges of throwing and running, as I’ve had to do a lot of work on my sprinting technique, as impact running and track running are very different - it’s always challenging. With my throwing, its about seeing how far I can get every session, and sometimes trying new things like long jumping. In addition to my track and field participation, I am an assistant coach with the Seniors team at Hamilton Hawks American Football Club. I try to make the gym regularly too, but some weeks are more successful than others. Although I am injured and unable to play, I am still involved with football, which I really enjoy. It’s great that although football is a very masculine sport in New Zealand, I am still respected as a (former) player, coach and ref.

My injury can be a barrier that I have to negotiate to be physically active in the ways I like, as I am still affected by it even though it happened about 18 months ago. Finding the time to be active is also a challenge. Being able to balance work, sport and study, as well as the other committee meetings, coaching and volunteering I am involved with can be hard, particularly as I like to train at a gym that is not open 24/7. Like lots of other women, at times, I also struggle with my motivation levels - sometimes when I have time, the motivation to be active just isn’t there. Although I experience barriers to being physically active, like everyone else, I have found ways to negotiate these so they needn’t hold me back…

Motivation wise, I have found that there just needs to be some discipline in play, because normally it’s just the motivation to get out the door. Once I’m doing physical activity, I’m as happy as a clam. Even when I feel unmotivated to go and do something I try and get myself out the door. It also helps if there is someone there to hold you accountable, like friends, family or work colleagues – if you train with, or at the same time as people, it’s easier to go and you have fun too! My time management is key in being able to balance my time, so I make sure everything I am doing for the week is written down and will try and stick to the schedule I create for myself.

My mental health and keeping this in a positive state is a big reason I stay physically active. I’ve had experiences with depression and anxiety, but have found that physical activity really helps me to combat those feelings and keep my state of mind positive. I also get a rush from being physically active and achieving the physical goals I set myself, no matter how small these may seem – there’s something so fulfilling about achieving what you set out to do! I love being able to smash goals, whether it is lifting heavier weights in the gym or throwing personal bests. 

In the future, I’d love to get back onto a diamond and give softball another shot. I loved playing in the social league back in Chicago, and would relish the opportunity to play again. My friend’s father is trying to get me to do the Oxfam 100K with his running group, so that’s a possibility too. My attitude to physical activity is that you should give anything you can a go – try a new sport, do something different because you never know what you might fall in love with. You definitely don’t have to be the best, you just have to do your best! And as you move along your physical activity journey, your best will always change.

  • Carly


    "Going to the gym and being physically active makes me feel alive and motivated"

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  • Aynslee


    "The rush you get from being active, and achieving your physical goals, is unmeasurable"

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  • Catarina


    "I love the feeling when you're all sweaty, tired and out of breath because you know you've tried your best and pushed yourself as far as you could"

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  • Courtney


    "I like getting fit, competing and winning medals. I like to have big strong muscles"

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  • Sarah


    "So often as a mum you are doing things for other people, so being physically active makes me feel good in that I’m doing something positive for myself"

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  • Jo


    "I enjoy the social aspect of being physically active, when it’s not too serious and it’s just about learning new skills or getting out of the house and having fun"

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  • Trinity


    “I don't like sitting around and being bored. I love participating in team sport and putting goals in place to achieve.”

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  • Sirtori


    “Never give up, keep pushing even when times are hard, and love yourself. Find your passion and grow because your only competition is yourself”

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  • Colleen


    “Being active is important to me. I want to live a healthy life and movement is a big part of that”

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  • Annmaree


    "For me, sport and physical activity has offered me opportunities to make friends for life and memories I will never forget"

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  • Jess


    "I’m now convinced that I am not in competition with anyone and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks anyway. I know I’m never going to win races but as long as I am trying my best to be a better me than I was yesterday then I am winning at life"

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  • Dawn


    "Not being the one sitting on the sidelines watching and being able to role model how to stay healthy and fit to my children so that they grow up believing being active is a part of everyday life and sharing all these wonderful adventures with them, it makes my heart sing"

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  • Linda


    “Quite often when you can’t be bothered or you’re feeling sluggish and tired you can surprise yourself on how well you’ll do. Just get out the door, breathe in some fresh air and take some time for YOU, because you deserve to be HAPPY and HEALTHY!”

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  • Tracey


    “Start out with small steps and milestones like walking around the block without stopping, going to that first group fitness class or jumping in the water for the first time in 10 years or so”

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  • Rae


    “I feel a lot happier when I'm active. A run or a swim will always clear my head”

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  • Pele


    “You have got to have a positive attitude and just get out there. Keep moving, stay focused, because life is way too short to waste your time not doing what you love to do. Just do it”

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  • Marie


    “By valuing ME more, I started to recognise myself and all of my qualities. Now I’m proud of who I am”

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  • Jess


    “I find I am generally a better human being and can give more when I keep active”

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  • Dianne


    “Being active amazes me at what my body can achieve, after all I have put it through. It amazes me how it can heal”

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  • Katrina


    "Find something that you enjoy doing and make the time to do it. You’re not being selfish; you’re looking after yourself. The best time to start is today"

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  • Anne


    “Running and working out are my antidote to the everyday stresses of life. When I’m not active I find it harder to switch off and view things in perspective. Sweating through activity means I don’t sweat the small things in life”

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  • Erin


    “Being active makes me feel like I’m using my body for good. It makes me feel powerful, positive, sweaty, glorious, achy in a good way, and hopeful for the future”

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  • Tracy


    “Running is an outlet for me and I feel as though I am in control when it’s just me and my running shoes”

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  • Anne


    “I was proud that I was determined enough to start from scratch and have had lots of fun playing in local competitions”

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  • Carla


    "I didn’t want to be the parent that only ever watched my kids run around and kick a ball – I wanted to be a part of what they were doing"

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  • Hiraina


    “Happy is a very well-known word but yet can be described in many ways. To me happy means doing the things you love while not being forced to do them. Sport and keeping physically active are my happy place”

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  • Dayna


    “Overall regular physical activity makes me more positive and happier”

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  • Amiria


    “I feel alive and ready for anything”

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  • Hannah


    “Active, healthy lifestyles aren’t defined by how often you run or go to the gym. Exercise can look like what you want it to be and what fits into your life”

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  • Dion


    "Just by putting your shoes on and getting out there, you’re being active and doing great things for your wellbeing."

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  • Hazel


    "There’s so much reward to be had by overcoming fear and achieving things you never thought you could – so go for it – and link up with other likeminded women along the way."

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  • Kirsty


    "Exercise makes me feel incredible! It makes me feel strong capable and grounded."

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  • Petra


    "...there is more to life than the aesthetic of your body."

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  • Wendy


    "I am so damn proud of what my body and brain can do for me. It brings me so much joy."

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  • Wati


    "Feeling confident in my own skin, being stronger and fitter than when I was younger."

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Our goal is to create a community of women and girls who share their stories and offer advice to support and inspire one another to get active. If you would like to share your physical activity journey, please contact us at info@thisisme.org.nz