Every month, we list off a bunch of weapons who could take the title of Member of the Month. However, this month it was absolutely unanimous that Fiona Crisp would be crowned Miss May. Every month, Fi consistently comes to classes and pushes herself to go next level, but what she works through on a personal level has us in awe. She opened up to the Bodies by Ryan community earlier in the year on her personal struggles with mental health and we rallied around our friend, in full support of her. As she made headway with her physical and mental health, Fi also completed her masters in May and blew us all away with her tenacity. Fi, you are an incredibly special part of our BBR community and a very deserving MOTM! Here is Fi’s story…
When did you first join Bodies by Ryan and what was the state of your health and fitness prior?
Prior to the birth of my second baby in 2010, I never really did much exercise (i.e. none!). When my youngest Libby was about 6 months old, I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and it was suggested I start doing some exercise to have some alone time and to help my mental health. I started off at the local YMCA in Auckland where we were living at the time. I started doing various classes and did the Couch to 5km program, starting my love for running.
I joined a running group a few months later and ran many, many kilometres a week. The running group I was in was like BBR – so friendly and encouraging! I did my first half marathon in 2012, and after 10 half marathons, finally did a full marathon in Rotorua in 2014. Somehow, I won an entry in the ballot to the New York Marathon in November 2014 so after my promise to myself and everyone else that I was just doing one marathon, I went to NYC and ran the marathon there. Marathons are highly addictive and when the chance came up to enter the Berlin marathon, one of my favourite European cities, I jumped at the chance. That was my last marathon in September 2015.
Six weeks after that we moved to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and my exercising ground to a halt! It was too hot and the roads/footpaths were horrific to run on. Eventually I found a lovely bootcamp group ran out of the basement of a fellow expat’s house and did that for a couple years. During this time, I did a triathlon and some running events like running around Angor Wat in Cambodia – just mind blowing! The tri I did was on Bintan Island, which is just over the border from Singapore in Indonesia. It was just beautiful!
However, at the beginning of 2019, I finally moved back to Perth after being away for 22 years, and being back here, did no exercise and the weight kept piling on to the weight I’d already put on living the expat life in Asia.
What was the motivation to join BBR?
After a holiday in 2019 where the photos shocked me at how much I’d let myself go, I found BBR, worked up the courage to call Ryan and here we are!
At this point, I was at my heaviest I’d ever been. I was nearly 100kgs which was insane. Even nine months pregnant, I was barely over 80kgs. I was fat, unfit and going downhill fast mentally.
What was your first impression of the gym?
O.M.G. What the eff have I got myself into?? I remember emailing Ryan and asking him if he only looks after really fit, beautiful people as that was all I saw when I went to the classes. He reassured me he looks after everyone which was not that reassuring! The first class I did had sissy squats – oh my! I’d done a bit of strength work in my running days but nothing like that first class. When Ryan first emailed me the food plan, I was like “so I eat the same thing every day for six weeks??” Eventually it made sense but it took a while to sink in!
What challenged you the most in your early days?
The DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)! I started off doing two to three classes a week as I’d be so sore after each class, I could barely move. Plus, I’m famously uncoordinated so getting used to the moves took some time.
What is your favourite part now about BBR?
The people. Without a doubt. They make the place. Both the trainers and the members. The trainers are so supportive of everyone. They’ll help you whatever stage you are at in your fitness journey. The people are amazing – so friendly and just make me want to get up and go to the gym. Without either, there is no way I’d come as far as I have. My regular training partner Jen, who is an inspiration to me as well as my challenge buddy Brenda who believed I could do better than I even thought possible, and made me believe in myself. Then there are people like Chantal who made me feel welcome from the first day, and then Michelle, Noel and Tyra who all push me to pick up heavier weights.
Please share your physical and mental transformation over your time at BBR…
Physically, I’ve lost 17 kilograms (net, as I’ve lost more but put some back on!), gone down from size 16-18 to 12-14, and feel so much better about myself. Mentally, every time I do a personal best in weights or on the bikes, it gives me a huge boost and I love it!
Tell us a bit about the other pressures you have had this year – kids, work and study… some might consider regular exercise too much – how do you factor it in and why is it so important that you do?
No one puts more pressure on me then me. I’m always pushing myself to do better, to do more classes and I punish myself mentally when I don’t do as well as I feel I should. It’s an ongoing battle between my naturally lazy side and my goal orientated, focused other side! Trying to fit in being my girls’ taxi driver means afternoon sessions are out most days. I try to do doubles when I can but it just doesn’t work with life. I think we need to be easy on ourselves in that respect – sometimes life gets in the way of the gym and that is OK!
If you feel comfortable to share, can you tell us about your mental health struggles, why you decided to open up to the other gym members and the difference it made when you did?
I’ve struggled all my life with depression. It wasn’t until I had my youngest that I actually sought help for it. The doctor said it was PND but I’m pretty sure I’ve had some sort of depression and anxiety for most of my life.
To be honest, that was the most open I’ve ever been about my depression. Most people who know me, don’t know about my struggles. Like many people with depression, I’ve become very good at hiding it. The day I made that post, I broke down in the tabata class. My head was so heavy, full of darkness and hate. The couple of weeks before that, I’d been going downhill. I could feel myself slipping but didn’t have the strength to stop it. I’d do the school drop off after doing a 6.15 session and then go back to bed, spending most of the day there. Writing the post and then the support I received from it gave me the strength to go back to the doctor and be put on the medication which helps me get through the dark days. I am still not sure why I did it. I didn’t do it with the intention of telling people about it all – I think maybe my sub-conscious was telling me this is a safe place at BBR, and it’s ok to let it out.
What did it mean to you when Ryan announced you as May’s Member of the Month after such a big year?
He announced it on the day I finished my Master’s so it was a huge day! It felt great to be awarded MOTM! It’s nice to be recognised for the hard work I’ve been putting in.
Do you have any other daily routines that help you achieve your health and fitness goals outside of the gym?
I try to do a 4-5km walk every morning after school drop off and eat as little as processed foods as possible. I need to go to bed by about 9.30 if I’m doing 6am classes (though I have to get up earlier to drive the rower daughter to her training a few days a week) otherwise I feel too tired and cannot give my all to classes. I also find it way easier to give in to temptation when I’m tired. I can’t say not to my food demons when I haven’t had enough sleep.
What are your current set of goals you are working towards?
I really need/want to get to the mid-70s in my weight. I’d also like to get better on the ass bike – I just cannot seem to get the co-ordination required to push with my arms and legs at the same time!
Tell us something special/surprising about yourself that we wouldn’t know?!
When we lived in KL, my husband and I were invited to the National Palace and we had dinner with the Sultan of Malaysia! (Ok, there were 200 other people there as well…!!!)
I love to travel – the last 18 months has been the longest I haven’t been on a plane since the early 1990’s!
Fast five favourites
Fave HIIT/Strength station? Not sure if I have a favourite!! There are many I like, such as sleds, rowers, SLDs and squats but love is a very strong word!
Least fave? Burpees!!! I’d rather do anything then burpees!
Fave café and your order there? Probably Carbon on Ashton. Their skinny hot chocolates are the best around. When not in challenge mode, I love a good eggs bene!
Fave cheat meal? Thai.
Fave holiday destination? Koh Lipe in Thailand. It’s a quick 40-minute ferry ride across border from Langkawi, Malaysia. First place I’m heading when the borders re-open! It’s a magical, beautiful place.