I wasn’t active at all at school but started playing team sports in my 20s. I played a lot of club netball and lacrosse, both in New Zealand and Australia, and loved the encouraging environments of all-women sports. I was training hard for lacrosse while living in Sydney when I shot for goal one day and tore my ACL in my left knee. That led to a knee reconstruction and some contemplation about how important it was to me to stay active.
I went back to playing lacrosse and netball for a few years after knee surgery and gained a lot of confidence by overcoming my fears. Then I got into multi-day tramping after doing some of the Great Walks, and started skiing again (I learned to ski on student exchange in Germany at the end of my sixth form year in 1995). I started doing more and more in the outdoors and really enjoyed the challenging environment of New Zealand’s backcountry.
At some point I began going solo on multi-day tramping trips – again overcoming a lot of fear after a male friend said he thought I couldn’t hack it, and being a bit scared of staying overnight in a hut by myself in case the boogeyman was hiding in the longdrop toilet. Tramping solo was rewarding and I developed a lot of resilience and grit by learning how to fend for myself in the backcountry on trips where I wouldn’t see any other humans for days.
My passion for skiing turned into a passion for ski touring and ski mountaineering after a friend gifted me an ice axe for my birthday, after which I did a snow craft course. I started a project to climb all of Ruapehu’s summit peaks (12 of them) in one winter and I managed them all, including several of them solo. I find going on courses to learn how to do things in a direct and hands-on way is really helpful for building confidence, and I’ve now done a lot of backcountry upskilling, from alpine to backcountry avalanche awareness courses.
You do face a bit of bias in the outdoors occasionally as pockets of it are more dominated by men – for example I’ve done two scuba diving courses and I was the only woman on both courses, which was more than a little bit intimidating! But there are also plenty of women to team up with and if you hunt them out, there are always more experienced people than you, willing to lend a helping hand along the way.
In recent years I’ve been inspired by a running friend and started running occasionally. We train together regularly and have completed about four half-marathons together, as well as lots of shorter distances. I also love groups such as 261 Fearless, which is a really supportive and non-threatening way for women to get into running!
I stay motivated to be active partly due to migraine. My migraine problem is relatively small, but research indicates that regular exercise can be as effective as a prescription preventative drug. I try to get active every day and even on the rainy or tired days, it helps to know that I’m doing something very important for my body and mind.
For any women looking to get into the outdoors but too intimidated or worried they can’t keep up, I’d say just give it a go, as the worst that can happen is you turn around, and that’s fine. It’s always better to try something and fail than to never try in the first place. 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.
"Going to the gym and being physically active makes me feel alive and motivated"
"The rush you get from being active, and achieving your physical goals, is unmeasurable"
"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"
"I like getting fit, competing and winning medals. I like to have big strong muscles"
"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"
"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"
“I don't like sitting around and being bored. I love participating in team sport and putting goals in place to achieve.”
“Never give up, keep pushing even when times are hard, and love yourself. Find your passion and grow because your only competition is yourself”
“Being active is important to me. I want to live a healthy life and movement is a big part of that”
"For me, sport and physical activity has offered me opportunities to make friends for life and memories I will never forget"
"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"
"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"
“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!”
“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”
“I feel a lot happier when I'm active. A run or a swim will always clear my head”
“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”
“By valuing ME more, I started to recognise myself and all of my qualities. Now I’m proud of who I am”
“I find I am generally a better human being and can give more when I keep active”
“Being active amazes me at what my body can achieve, after all I have put it through. It amazes me how it can heal”
"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"
“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”
“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”
“Running is an outlet for me and I feel as though I am in control when it’s just me and my running shoes”
“I was proud that I was determined enough to start from scratch and have had lots of fun playing in local competitions”
"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"
“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”
“Overall regular physical activity makes me more positive and happier”
“I feel alive and ready for anything”
“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”
"Just by putting your shoes on and getting out there, you’re being active and doing great things for your wellbeing."
"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."
"Exercise makes me feel incredible! It makes me feel strong capable and grounded."
"...there is more to life than the aesthetic of your body."
"I am so damn proud of what my body and brain can do for me. It brings me so much joy."
"Feeling confident in my own skin, being stronger and fitter than when I was younger."