Nerida Bint has never forgotten the feeling of being turned away from a gym.
It was at a low point in her life, when she was struggling to shed in excess of 20 kilograms accumulated while living abroad.
That is why now, after spending the past four years establishing herself as a respected trainer around town, the mantra of her Carrington gym Lissome is that everyone is welcome.
Seven years ago, Nerida moved in across from a CrossFit gym.
She was instantly intrigued by the movements of the gym’s members.
“Back then people didn't even know what CrossFit was. I was watching these girls and guys train thinking what are they doing,” Nerida told me a couple of weeks ago when I went along to check out the gym a friend had raved about to me.
“I'd get up early and watch through my window and there would be girls flipping tyres, swinging kettle bells, doing pull-ups, and I was just amazed.”
After a couple of months of “watching every day” she ventured across the street to ask about joining.
“I walked in and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen; it was like a scene out of a Rocky film,” Nerida said.
“I got talking to the owner and picked up on a vibe that he wasn't really matching my enthusiasm then he looked me up and down and said, 'This is not for you'.
“I was mortified, and embarrassed. It was all I could do not to cry.”
Not long after, a friend convinced her to try another CrossFit gym. It took some courage to get out of her car and walk through the doors. But she did and has not looked back.
“That changed my life forever,” she said. “It was a completely different environment.
“In my first session, the first 400 metre run I did everyone was finished and I was only halfway then the last 20 burpees I had in the class, everyone had been finished for ages.
“But everyone was cheering me on. Then they got down and did an extra set of 20 burpees with me. One lady came up and hugged me.”
She was hooked. She committed to training most days of the week, found a nutrition plan and three months later was back to her former self.
“I gained this confidence in myself; I felt like me again,” Nerida said.
Soon after she decided it was time for a career change and found herself helping run boot camps.
Then Nerida completed her personal training course and set up Lissome, which is Latin for “agile, supple and graceful”.
The gym’s logo comprises symbols for community, nutrition, female and health.
The gym has a female focus but also offers “commune” sessions that anyone can attend.
It does not define as a CrossFit gym but as offering functional fitness or cross training.
“I'm very passionate about training women to get strong but also about building a community and really helping women grow, learn and live their best lives in every single way possible,” she said.
“[My story] just goes to show anyone is capable of anything. The guy at the gym never knew what I was capable of. I want to train everyone and have everyone experience it.
"Community - that's my whole philosophy, making sure anyone who walks through that front door is made to feel welcome the minute they walk in and that they'll get a good workout and they're safe.
“I know what it feels like to have to claw your way back. I know how hard it is and how much support you need.”
The gym’s popularity reaches well beyond Newcastle. Nerida regularly receives messages asking when Lissome will set up in another city.
The big picture, she told me, is “to see Lissome in every city in Australia”, and to help as many women as possible.
Sizzling Summer Sessions
This space is being devoted to interval sessions this month.
Interval training helps improve your speed and fitness and lessen your recovery times. In essence, if you do them regularly they will help you run harder for longer.
Always ensure you add a warm-up (including range of motion stretching) and cool-down (static stretching) to your sessions.
Give this session a go:
800 metres hard, 200m easy; 600m hard, 200m easy; 400m hard, 200m easy; 200m hard, 200m easy. Repeat.
The easy part can be walking, stationary resting or jogging slowly.
Upcoming Fitness Events
Free lunchtime boxing class, Civic Park, February 20: Revitalising Newcastle are hosting a range of free health and fitness activities and this week it is a boxing session. The 45-minute class starts at 12.30pm and gloves are provided.
Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, February 25, Newcastle Foreshore: Various distances from novice to hardcore and individual as well as team entries.
Harry’s Challenge Fun Run and Paddle, March 18, Stockton: A charity event for Harry's House, a family retreat for families of children living with cancer. The day involves a 5km fun run and a non-competitive event for water craft.
Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. firstname.lastname@example.org.