LIFE ON A HIGH

Alyce Stephen­son splits her time be­tween lift­ing big num­bers and per­form­ing in the air

QT Magazine - - CONTENTS - DAR­REN HALLESY DAR­REN.HALLESY@QT.COM.AU

THERE aren’t too many peo­ple in Ip­swich that can claim to have hob­bies as var­ied at Alyce Stephen­son.

By day, the 26-year-old works as a nurse in surg­eries, as if that doesn’t de­liver enough sto­ries to tell at the next bar­bie.

By night, Alyce splits her time be­tween per­form­ing as one half of an aeri­al­ist duo and flog­ging her­self to the point of ex­haus­tion in the hope of mak­ing next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Per­form­ing along­side her twin sis­ter, Emma, who is also a nurse (twins think alike), Alyce has per­formed all over the state, and even over­seas in the dis­ci­plines of duo lyra (work­ing in a ring sus­pended high in the air) and tissu (hang­ing and per­form­ing on a long piece of fabric hang­ing from the roof).

Talk­ing to Alyce about her pas­sions, its clear she loves what she does, as she ex­plained how she fell in what with what most of us would call “cir­cus per­for­mance”.

“Emma and I went on a cruise about seven years ago and saw this per­formed on the ship and we thought it was re­ally cool,” she said. “At that time, we didn’t do any sport so thought we’d give it a go. So, we signed up and did it in New Farm, next door to the Pow­er­house.

“While learn­ing our skills, some­one spot­ted us and liked the fact we were twins. She turned out to be an agent and we started do­ing work for her. She still gets us gigs all over the place.

“We’ve per­formed at the Work­shops, Sea­World, Movie World, at the Out­back Fes­ti­val in Quilpie and even went to Tai­wan for a show.”

For the past two years the sis­ters have been hon­ing their craft, right up un­til Alyce re­alised she needed a lot more strength than she pos­sessed to make it work

“To be hon­est, at the start, we started teach­ing our­selves. It’s amaz­ing what you can fine on­line and we spent hours and hours prac­tis­ing.

“I love do­ing it with my sis­ter, its great fun, plus it’s dif­fer­ent, and peo­ple don’t see stuff like that all the time.

“I’m not a cre­ative per­son but it’s the one out­let that I am. At the start, we re­alised we needed body strength to do it, so we both hit the gym hard and I got in to CrossFit.

“Be­fore then we couldn’t even pull our­selves up to the top of the rib­bon.”

It was when she was do­ing CrossFit that Alyce dis­cov­ered weightlift­ing and, th­ese days, it’s all she thinks about. Throw­ing her­self into the sport, Alyce this month will head off to the big­gest event of her life so far and, if she can win her weight cat­e­gory, will rep­re­sent her coun­try at the Com­mon­wealth Games.

If you’re won­der­ing what it takes to get to that level, strap your­self in be­cause this isn’t for the faint hearted.

“It was only about two years ago I started weightlift­ing com­pet­i­tively and con­cen­trat­ing on lift­ing plus my tech­nique. I took up CrossFit and, to be hon­est, I was sick of be­ing the weak one all the time. It was frus­trat­ing for me that I wasn’t good at it. So, I fo­cussed on get­ting bet­ter, and get­ting good, which in­volved sur­round­ing my­self with peo­ple who lift weights.”

Alyce re­cently had a body scan to see where she was sit­ting with her mus­cle mass. The re­sults shocked her.

“Cur­rently I weigh 50kg and about 45kg of that is mus­cle. I’ve al­ways been lit­tle and I wanted to gain mus­cle so to say I’m happy with my train­ing is an un­der­state­ment.

“I com­mit­ted my­self to eat­ing healthy, train­ing hard and get­ting help with my diet,” Alyce said.

“Even though I’m 50kg, I eat a lot…on av­er­age six times a day. Most peo­ple would think it’s ter­ri­bly bor­ing, as I eat the same things most days, in­clud­ing lots of pro­tein and carbs.

“I still don’t see my­self as strong but, de­spite that, my coach put me in a cou­ple of lo­cal comps and I was Queens­land cham­pion at 53kg. My coach asked me how I felt about go­ing down to 48kg and giv­ing it a crack.

“I didn’t want to drop weight, as I didn’t think I could, but a sports di­eti­cian helped me and I’ve done four dif­fer­ent weight caps now.”

The for­mer St Mary’s Col­lege stu­dent trains six times a week, most days lift­ing much more than her own body weight over her head and in the back of her mind sits one goal..to get Ip­swich to the Com­mon­wealth Games.

“I like weightlift­ing be­cause I en­joy the train­ing, es­pe­cially that hard slog part of it.” Alyce said.

“There’s some­thing re­ally sat­is­fy­ing about push­ing your body to the limit, to get to that point of ex­haus­tion. I just en­joy it, and you can see the im­prove­ment in your body, be­cause ev­ery­thing you do is mea­sur­able.

“If you don’t do the hard work, you don’t get the re­sults and I’m now com­pet­i­tive by na­ture. I’m also a per­fec­tion­ist, like my aerial work, and I al­ways want to get my tech­nique right. I wake up ev­ery day and first thing that comes to mind is go­ing train­ing.

“I even dream about it. Does that make me ob­sessed? “This is the big­gest goal I’ve ever set and get­ting to the games is within reach be­cause it ac­tu­ally is a re­al­ity. I’ve worked my butt off this year and I have no ex­cuses. I train, I eat right and my hus­band is su­per sup­port­ive.

“I know that if I don’t do it, some­one else will and that’s what drives me.”

Alyce has taken the at­ti­tude that she must give this thing 100% or she will re­gret it for the rest of her life, and this pos­i­tive out­look makes her the per­son she is.

“No mat­ter what hap­pens, I must look back on this time and say I gave it my ab­so­lute best and that’s what pushes me ev­ery day…hav­ing the chance to rep­re­sent my coun­try would be the high­light of my life.

“The time is now. I want to take the op­por­tu­nity I’ve been given. To make the games and win a medal would be the ul­ti­mate re­ward. I’ve done ev­ery­thing I can to get there so let’s see what hap­pens.”

❛❛ I know that if I don’t do it, some­one else will and that’s what drives me. :: Alyce Stephen­son

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Alyce Stephen­son hopes to qual­ify for the Com­mon­wealth Games weightlift­ing team this month.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Alyce Stephen­son and her twin, Emma, started their aerial act about seven years ago.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

Alyce Stephen­son trains six times a week in her bid to make the Com­mon­wealth Games weightlift­ing team. ABOVE and RIGHT: Alyce Stephen­son and her twin sis­ter, Emma, per­form­ing their aerial act.

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