Going to ‘Worlds‘ is such a big journey. Besides all the training, I have had to put my cap in hand and start asking for support. It’s a really challenging thing to do for someone of my generation.
I asked my personal trainer, Jace Hulena, of Primal Fit Gym in Stoke if he could help and he offered to sponsor my Primal Fit boot camp sessions. I am so grateful. Thank you Jace and Alex. It means so much to me.
It all started with Outward Bound
It’s amazing how often I realise that going to Outward Bound changed my life. It isn’t just about the 21 days I spent there, but the whole journey before and since. It expanded my horizons in so many ways.
Taking responsibility for my fitness
I was talking to a friend who was going to Outward Bound and it bought back all sorts of memories for me, because five years ago, that was the start of this journey. It was the start of me realising that getting fit was my own responsibility; that no one else could do it for me. That sitting on the couch just wasn’t going to do it for me in the long run; that I had to start taking action. I had to learn to run 3km in under 25 minutes and to be fit enough to keep up with 30 year-olds when I was just on 65 years-old. At the time it was quite a big ask.
It was also the beginning of my association with Primal Fit.
Serendipitously, I met Jason Hulena the same weekend I had decided to apply for Outward Bound. He was at a race at Nelson Lakes. He was talking about starting up a bootcamp to help paddlers get more fit. He also paddles waka ama so I decided he would be worth a try. I definitely had to get fit and I had 4 months to do it. I needed help.
What a great decision that was. It’s also been a lot of hard work, a lot of sweating and a five year journey that has given me the fitness, strength and courage to keep saying “yes”.
The Primal Fit philosophy
“The road to success is built on steps of failures. To fail we must first try. If we have a fear of failure we also fear success. If we let fear rule we have already quit.
The most common phrase I hear is “I can’t do that!”. Fear is what stops us from trying not our ability. By empowering our minds we learn to curb our fears and face greater challenges. To try and fail gives us resources and skills to attempt these challenges with more conviction and belief. Fear starts to subside and is replaced by courage.
‘Think Strong Be Strong’. Your mind controls your body. Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, either way you are right.
Why Primal Fit?
I find exercising on my own extremely challenging. Motivating myself to get my water-based training done (paddling in my one-man waka) is hard enough, without having to motivate myself for my land-based training. At my age competing is 80% fitness and 20% technique.
I would find going to a ‘normal gym’ difficult. I’ve tried a couple, but never found the right ‘fit’. They didn’t seem to have the amount of supervision I wanted and needed. I gave up.
I’ve been with Primal Fit now for five years. I find it so encouraging and motivating to train with others, to have regular set times for sessions and to have someone there who will encourage me to go that little bit further, help me when I falter and give me alternatives when I really can’t do something. It is definitely a regular part of my routine. Jace manages to keeps it varied, fun and exciting. And I love the music.
Jace has a way of getting the best out of people, of putting things in a such a way that they are easy to understand. His knowledge of the body mechanics makes him able to look at movement efficiency and to be able to translate that into specific exercises to strengthen the muscles required for that movement. This is particularly important for sport specific training.
The programmes are varied and Jace is always nearby to offer technical assistance and encouragement. Some days I just can’t do burpees or running so he will create alternatives that are within my capabilities and that will still extend me. The combination of strength and aerobic training we get is exactly what I need to get me strong for waka sprint racing.
“Think strong, be strong”
In my singles race at the National Waka Ama Sprints at Lake Karapiro this year I muffed the start. I was the last waka to load out and had to hurry to get to the start line because everyone else was already up there. I had just gotten somewhere near the start line when the red flag went up and I was flustered about being so late. I wasn’t paying attention and the green flag went up while I was still on the false start line (15m back from the start). I saw the woman in the lane next to me take off, realised that the green flag was up, the race had already started and I wasn’t there!
I started to panic and then I heard Jace’s voice in my head “Think strong, be strong; you’ve got this!” I remembered to breathe, started to settle into the race and give it my all.
By halfway I was beginning to flag a little. By the last 50 metres I was just about done. Then I heard Jace again in my mind, yelling “Finish It!”. It gave me the boost I needed to give that last little push to get me over the finish line 30 milliseconds in front of my crew mate and into third place.
Winning the bronze meant I qualified to represent Aotearoa, New Zealand at the World Waka Ama Sprint Championships in Hawaii in August 2020. That was what I had been training for.
It’s not just the physical fitness for me, it’s the importance of the mind fitness that he teaches that really works for me. It stays with me and comes back when I need it most.
Believing in myself
I read something today that made me understand something about why I get so much out of training with Jace.
“How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.”
This is Jace’s ‘super power’. It made me realise that since I have been training with Primal Fit my whole body image has changed. I have learnt to be comfortable in my own skin. I am also fitter and stronger than I have ever been. I am proud of my achievements. I am prepared to give things a go – even going upside down on the rings which I never believed possible. It may be only the once, but I did it, and we have the video to prove it!
There is no judgement at the Primal Fit gym. I don’t hide under Tshirts anymore. I am now wearing racer-back singlets and shorts. It’s been a lot about Jace’s encouragement and belief in me to the point that I can now believe in myself and be proud of who I am. I have achieved things I never thought possible. Having someone to provide that sort of encouragement is priceless.
Finding my Primal Fit ‘Family’
When I joined Primal Fit not only did I find Jace, I also found a great group of people who encourage and support me. They don’t let me get away with playing the ‘old-lady’ card. They only grumble when they have to do my birthday burpees – one for each year and I’ll be 70 this year! They are a great bunch. They inspire me and egg me on when I start to flag. We are all shapes and sizes and abilities. We all put our all into the sessions. It is a safe and fun environment for me.
Where is Primal Fit Gym?
Primal Fit has had a few homes, but has now found it’s permanent home at Elms St in Stoke. Sessions available at Primal Fit are: