Geoff Starling CSCS
At 9:30AM on Saturday, June 25th in a parking lot 5 minutes NE of Inglewood, Sheila Hyatt was about to transition from someone who worked out a couple times a week in between busy days as a corporate lawyer, into a competing athlete. She was standing at the starting line of the Femsport Women’s Strength & Fitness Challenge ready to vault, press and heave her way through her first fitness event. Representing her team, the ‘KettleBelles’, in their matching green shirts, entrant number “38” scrawled on her shoulder, she prepared for the judge’s call to begin.
Earlier in the year, Hyatt and some of her colleagues had banded together and secured approval to represent their firm in a fitness challenge they had discovered online. They registered two teams of 3 athletes each and began looking for a coach to help them prepare. That’s when our paths crossed and their casual workouts turned into structured team training. Femsport runs every year in various cities across the country and consists of 5 core events plus an obstacle course. To make it across the finish line, competitors are required to jump onto an 18” box 50 times, flip a 300lb tire end-over-end, push an SUV, vault a 5’ wall and place a series of kettlebells onto a raised platform.
Hyatt had only recently returned to regular exercise after having her first baby but you never would have known it. She powered through each of the challenges like she had done them 100 times before - because she had! By giving her workout routine a purpose beyond weight loss or general fitness, she had been able to hone her skills and prepare for the activities awaiting her on the day of the event. During that process she had also overcome fears of launching herself over a wall barely shorter than her chin and grappling a tire more than double her bodyweight.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Working out a few times per week can add consistency and predictability to your routine, especially if you are new to exercise. Training for an event or being part of a team can be difficult if you have an erratic schedule. Ultimately whichever option offers a higher chance of success is the right one for you. For Hyatt, having Femsport circled on her calendar provided the nudge that she needed to get back into a routine after her maternity leave. It also gave her a structure to follow, teammates to be accountable to and motivation to track down an appropriate coach.
The KettleBelles’ training paid off and they completed the event placing 5th out of 10 teams with all 3 athletes finishing in the top 30 out of 50+ novice competitors. A fantastic effort and testament to what can be achieved when you set yourself a challenge and commit to seeing it through.
Committing to a regular exercise routine can be difficult at the best of times. Whether it’s waking up early to go for a walk or run before the day gets underway or breaking away from your desk to sweat it out in a busy studio, you need a pretty strong reason to get yourself moving some days. The good news is that the more powerful the reason you commit yourself to, the less likely you are to hit snooze or answer that “one last email”.
Numerous events like Femsport take place in and around Calgary every year. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but worry that it’s slightly out of reach? Whether it’s an OCR (obstacle course race), social sports team or something individual like a hike, bike ride or learning how to swim - set yourself a challenge and get training!
Geoff is a fitness professional, writer and speaker. He is a registered coach for Femsport Canada living in Calgary, Canada.