A lo­cal grand­mother’s pas­sion for fit­ness

Style Magazine - - Contents - BY LEANDRI VAN STADEN

Elec­tric. From her hair to her toes, Anne Brun­ner is most def­i­nitely elec­tric. Her con­fi­dence and de­ter­mi­na­tion is a pal­pa­ble charge wait­ing to spark an in­tense drive in any­one who ven­tures close enough. I feel the static as she talks me though her jour­ney — from tak­ing her first step into a gym, to step­ping off stage at the an­nual Fern­wood Fit­ness 12-week chal­lenge as the na­tional win­ner. She tells me it all started with a photo. “There is a photo of me and my grand­son. It made me re­alise I had to change my life, so I could be here for my grand­chil­dren and see them grow up. I just thought ‘this is it’.”

This life-chang­ing de­ci­sion hap­pened in Oc­to­ber 2016 and, as Anne in­forms me, it’s been a jour­ney of not just phys­i­cal fit­ness, but also of per­sonal growth and men­tal health.

Through­out her life, Anne has been a du­ti­ful wife, a lov­ing mother and a car­ing daugh­ter. She raised three chil­dren, and is a proud grand­mother to three grand­chil­dren. She has had to say good­bye to a fa­ther that clearly meant the world to her, and she lov­ingly takes care of her ag­ing mother. Anne has al­ways taken care of other peo­ple.

Now, at age 57, Anne tells me it not only feels great tak­ing care of her­self as well, but she em­phat­i­cally be­lieves it is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to the hap­pi­ness and lives of her fam­ily.

“If women nur­ture them­selves, it af­fects ev­ery­body in the fam­ily. It is such a pos­i­tive thing,” she said.

Anne chose to join an all-women’s gym to kick off her life-change.

“That first step, I still main­tain, is the best step I’ve ever taken for my life and my health.”

Anne firmly be­lieves the hard­est part of mak­ing a change, is that first step. She also be­lieves once you take that step, all you have to do is keep go­ing.

“You just have to turn up. Be con­sis­tent and per­sis­tent, and the rest will take care of it­self.”

Anne ad­mit­ted she’s not a morn­ing per­son, es­pe­cially on cooler win­ter days. Like many women, she had the habit of set­ting an alarm and just turn­ing it off in the morn­ing. This changed when Anne stuck a big pic­ture of an or­ange alarm clock to her mir­ror door.

“It says ‘Get up and move!’, and it is the first thing I see when I wake up. As soon as my alarm goes off, I see that, and I move.”

We all have dif­fer­ent things to en­cour­age us. Ev­ery day, Anne wears a gold bracelet in­scribed with the word ‘per­sis­tence’ as a re­minder to keep go­ing.

“I know ladies who say ‘I have to do this for my chil­dren’, but the main thing is, you have to do it for your­self. Ev­ery­thing else will ben­e­fit from that.”

When Anne joined the gym, she started a slow, six-week jour­ney that taught her about nu­tri­tion and food. She went on to par­tic­i­pate in the 2017 Fern­wood Fit­ness 12-week chal­lenge.

“In that chal­lenge, I learned a lot about my­self.”

In the sixth week of the chal­lenge, Anne frac­tured her ster­num, but went on to com­plete the full 12 weeks of the chal­lenge re­gard­less.

“I be­lieve it’s in some of the low­est times in life that you learn the strong­est lessons about your­self, and I re­alised how de­ter­mined I am.”

Anne could have thrown in the towel

I can and I will.” ANNE BRUN­NER

and no­body would have blamed her, but she wanted to fin­ish what she started.

“My late fa­ther al­ways told us ‘if you’re go­ing to do some­thing, to it prop­erly or don’t do it at all’, and I still love him for that.”

Even though Anne lost much weight dur­ing this first chal­lenge, she knew she still had a lot to im­prove on. “I just knew, I’m not fin­ished yet.” This year, 2057 women from all across Aus­tralia par­tic­i­pated in the Fern­wood Fit­ness 12-week chal­lenge.

“This time round, I wanted to fo­cus on my fit­ness. It’s not just about weight loss, it’s about an over­all improvement.”

Anne set out to im­prove her fit­ness and strength. She threw ev­ery­thing she had at this chal­lenge and, in the end, it paid off.

At the an­nual gala din­ner, in Mel­bourne Anne was crowned na­tional cham­pion and had lost a fur­ther 17.2kg.

She cred­its her per­sonal trainer, Mel Ant­tila, and says she couldn’t have done it without her. Anne said this chal­lenge was never about be­ing com­pet­i­tive. It was about be­ing fit­ter and health­ier.

“I set out to be the best ver­sion of me I could be, so that was all I was fo­cussed on. Ev­ery­one had things to work on.”

Anne’s improvement through­out the chal­lenge was re­mark­able. At the fit­ness test in the first week of the chal­lenge, Anne man­aged 15 sit-ups. By the end, she could do over a 100 without rest. “My motto was, and still is, ‘I can and I will’.”

When I asked her about how she feels, be­ing picked as the na­tional win­ner out of so many women, she said: “Ev­ery­one that takes the time to bet­ter them­selves, is a win­ner. It was never about win­ning.”

For Anne, the improvement in her strength is a re­ward in it­self.

“I can’t get over the strength I’ve gained. I now feel fit­ter and stronger than I have in many years, and age doesn’t worry me.”

Through the com­pe­ti­tion, Anne has come to re­alise how ben­e­fi­cial weight train­ing is for women, es­pe­cially with re­spects to im­proved bone den­sity.

When she first walked into her gym, Anne had a bad right knee. “For many years, I couldn’t ride a bike with my fam­ily be­cause of the pain in my knee. Now I do RPM reg­u­larly, be­cause I can.” Anne said a lot of women have ‘can’ts’.

“My ‘can’t’ used to be ‘I can’t be­cause of my knee’,” she explained. “You just have to turn your can’ts into can’s.”

Anne is thrilled to be able to do things with her fam­ily that she pre­vi­ously couldn’t do.

“I re­cently had a box­ing class with my daugh­ter. I just looked at her and said ‘who would’ve thought’.”

At a re­cent fam­ily day in the park, Anne raced her grand­son and, she says, this was one of her favourite days ever.

“He had a head-start, and my hus­band and I raced him. He en­joyed it so much, and we all just laughed and laughed. I thought, ‘this is what it’s all about’.”

Now Anne is health­ier, she can en­joy these mo­ments even more.

“It’s never too late. That’s what I want to res­onate with ladies.”

Anne thinks some younger women have no­ticed her and have thought ‘if she can do it, I can too’. “I think that’s re­ally cool. I asked Anne whether she thinks this life­style change, and tak­ing care of your health, means you can never again have pizza and beer. She laughed and said she’d just been out for lunch with friends be­fore com­ing to meet me. “You have to live life too. Ev­ery­one has to learn bal­ance.”

Anne said she doesn’t be­lieve in a com­ple­tion date when it comes to her health, and she plans to keep im­prov­ing her­self ev­ery day.

“I’m not done yet.”

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