WITH HER ROAD RUNNER-STYLE SLED RUNS, SEEMINGLY EFFORTLESS CHIN UPS AND ABS THAT LOOK PHOTOSHOPPED, JANELLE KAVANAGH EDGED OUT THE QUALITY COMPETITION TO WIN BODIES BY RYAN’S RECENT EIGHT WEEK CHALLENGE. WHILE SHE MAKES IT LOOK EASY, JANELLE JUGGLES A LOT OF BALLS INCLUDING PARENTING, WORKING FULL-TIME, STUDYING FOR AN MBA AND MANAGING A SCHOOL NETBALL CLUB (I NEED A NAP JUST FROM IMAGINING ALL OF THAT). YET, MAKING TIME FOR HERSELF EACH MORNING TO BE PRESENT AND GIVE EVERYTHING TO HER SESSION AT BBR IS ONE OF THE WAYS JANELLE AIMS FOR BALANCE. WE HAVE BEEN SO EXCITED TO HEAR WHAT MAKES THIS WEAPON TICK! CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOUR CHALLENGE WIN JANELLE… PLEASE, SHARE ALL YOUR SECRETS, WONDERWOMAN!
When did you first join Bodies by Ryan and what was the state of your health and fitness prior?
I had been constantly getting injured over the past two years from running and had been told categorically by my physio that I would not be able to run anymore. After seeking a second opinion I was told to strengthen my glutes and core, and I would be back running. I thought I was relatively fit when I joined, I’ve always loved exercising. As kid I did a lot of swimming and running and really was always pretty active, in my early 20s I found a love for boxing and then my late 20s, I found a love of running and endurance events. Before joining BBR I had been doing a lot of running but I did my first HITT class and nearly died… the Ass Bikes did me in!!
What was the motivation to join BBR?
As above, it was to strengthen my glutes/core and find a different means of exercising that wasn’t running. Exercise for me is also a means to keep on track of my mental health – for me if I don’t exercise, the wheels seem to fall off in all areas of my life. I spoke to Ryan and he was pretty energised and motivating, so I signed up for a free trial week. The early class timeslots worked for me, they fitted into my life/work/family logistics etc and the rest is history .
What was your first impression of the gym?
I loved the energy, the programming, the music and the trainers, and everyone in the classes were all so welcoming and very accommodating of my lack of understanding of what station was next etc. Particularly when it came to the Tabata Class – I still recall not really knowing what I was doing!
What challenged you the most in your early days?
I think in the early days the challenge was around fitness with the high impact cardio, as for a long time I only did the HITT classes. I think I wasn’t used to the strength exercises, so lifting weights and not being afraid to lift heavier was also a challenge. I still find the strength exercises challenging in both the strength and HITT sessions but the coaches Ryan, Gene & Justine are so good at correcting technique. I have benefitted enormously from their coaching and my body is a lot stronger for it.
Please share your physical and mental transformation over your time at BBR including any important stats you feel comfortable sharing…
I did my first challenge in August 2019 and was thrilled then with the results and really loved the process; meal prep/planning and just committing 100%, so some of these things I’ve continued to do in and out of challenge modes and they’ve become part of my weekly planning for my family. The big change was around the amount of food I was allowing myself to eat and also the breakdown of the food, higher proteins/carbs etc. This was eye opening to me, I was eating heaps more and training hard and my energy was sustained and my body really adjusted well to it, I also felt like I recovered better.
I actually love cooking and have always prepared copious amounts of prepped food for my kids ensuring that they were eating well, but I realised after the first challenge that I also needed to ensure that I eat well and that my nutrient needs were somewhat different. The challenge is to try to find the time/balance to prep a household worth of food for my kids, husband and me! But those that know me well know that I generally don’t sit still probably something that I need to work on and probably 75% of the time can be found in the kitchen!
After a number of months at BBR I was also able to pick up running again without feeling that I was going to injure myself, I had definitely strengthen my glutes after all the squat work which I loved. So physically, I think I’ve definitely gotten so much stronger.
You always look fit, but this challenge your results were insane… what was different for you about this challenge?
I had put on some weight after months of working from home in COVID-19 with a direct line to my pantry and just lost my discipline, so I was determined to lose the extra kilos I’d gained and was just pumped to focus on something positive for me.
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and to be honest I just wanted to smash the challenge. I had a lot going on, I work full-time in a fairly intense commercial operations role for Chevron and like many other organisations, we were going through some stressful periods with downsizing.
My good friend Davinia Finucane also signed up for the challenge so was great to be able to chat to her along the journey too. It helps when you are surrounded by such supportive and motivating crew, to name a few Jay, Chantal, yourself Lisa, Ash, Freddy… so many more…. With so many people just pumped on this challenge it was really motivating but I think fundamentally for me it was about timing, this was the right time for me and I flicked the switch as Rhino would say and held the intensity until the end.
Above: The awesome 5.15am strength crew with Janelle (bottom row, second from right) pumped post-
My family were also really supportive, I always have time for food prep, they’d always ask me what I was eating, is this on the challenge. I try to teach my kids good healthy eating habits so talking about food and choices etc is big in our household anyhow and we are big on exercise so it is great that my kids were able to see that I had committed to something and then achieved the results I wanted. My husband also gave up the alcohol for the period so that made things easier for me too even though I’m not a big drinker to share a Friday night soda water instead of a glass of wine together certainly helped!
I also love challenging my body to go harder/longer/faster and always have done so this is what I did through the challenge, I was trying to outdo the number of reps each round, go faster or lift heavier weights and once I started to see results the flame was lit and I just wanted to keep on doing it.
This challenge I also changed my split of classes I was doing mostly all HITT, but I now do 2 strength and 4 HITT which works really well for me. I really felt a lot fitter and stronger at the end of this challenge and have continued this mix. I also did all the extra cardio – my dog loved it as she has so many more walks. I also started doing Jacobs Ladder at lunch times once week with some work colleagues which has been great.
How do you mentally get to the level you do in training? We see you go next level while some of us are in survival mode (ha!)… how do you mentally go next level and stay there when you’re in the hurt locker towards the end?
Probably as the last paragraph above, but I love pushing my body hard, seeing where I can get to. I’ve done some endurance events such as marathons, 70.3 ironmans, etc testing the boundaries of my body – I’ve always loved training hard and I am goal orientated so challenges help!
We believe you are fairly busy when you’re not ripping up Rhino’s sled track… can you share what you do outside the gym from work to parenting?
Aside from my role at Chevron, I am also studying my MBA, I have a husband and two primary age kids (11 and 9) with lots of extra curricular activities and just so much other stuff going on in my little life. I was managing the John XXIII College primary netball club Standard stuff you know, running a household, trying to see family/friends etc .
How do you keep balance with so many balls in the air? Lots of people say they can’t be fit with work or kids… you’re such a fabulous example of a busy person in great shape… please share your best tips!
I train in the mornings and always have, so I get the exercise done before anything else and it has always been a priority for me… but I’m not a great example to be honest because I’m not great at saying no and I tend to spread myself thin. I’m trying to get better at this!
I also burn the candle at both ends such that I stay up late to get stuff done and then get up early to train so I’m trying to break this habit, one of my goals for this coming challenge is to try to get to bed for 9.30pm. I’m also trying (not successfully) to not sweat the small stuff anymore but again being a control freak, this is a hard shift! As a family, we also do a lot of camping so in the school holidays which is where I get some downtime and recharge the batteries. I also have an amazing mum who helps me beyond belief!
What’s the biggest health or fitness challenge you have ever overcome or achieved?
Hard one as mostly I’ve been fairly fortunate but I have had a lot of injuries. I’ve just always found alternative fitness regimes to overcome them but I’d probably say the biggest challenge was being told I will not be able to keep up my running… BBR has helped me overcome this one!
Tell us about any of your daily health priorities or routines that help you achieve your goals outside of the gym?
Exercising everyone morning for mental health as well as physical health and taking my dog for a walk along the coast as much as I can.
We know you’ve just crushed the previous challenge, but what are some of the goals you are currently working towards?
• Getting more sleep and having better balance, trying to get to bed for 9.30pm
• Incorporating some meditation
• My food plan has changed too which so just adapting to that seeing how my body/energy adapts
• Continuing with the six training sessions at a high intensity
• Continuing to incorporate extra walks, I did this through the last challenge and really found that the walks were a good way to zone out. I live near the coast and love the ocean, so a daily walk along the coast is something I’m trying to continue to do. In saying that, if I don’t get it in daily then I don’t beat myself up but at least 3-4 times a week is ideal – even if it is just 30 minutes!
Tell us something special/surprising about yourself that we wouldn’t know?!
At 18 I left home to travel around Australia by myself – my parents were horrified as this was pre mobile phones, email and constant connectivity! I travelled for a year seeing our amazing country up and down the east coast and through the centre of Australia, catching the Greyhound Bus! This was one of my first independent adventures and certainly instilled my absolute love of travel and adventure…
Fast five favourites
Fave HIIT/Strength station? Box Jumps & Sleds
Least fave? Rowers and Chin Ups
Fave café and your order there? George’s at City Beach, Small Almond Cap and their Green brekkie bowl
Fave cheat meal? Katsu Chicken Ramen or any pasta from Il Lido!
Fave holiday destination? Can’t go past down south, I love Yallingup and I absolutely love Bremer Bay, but overseas would be Croatia hands down!