WHILE THERE’S NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF WHEN ENTERING THE BODIES BY RYAN GYM FOR THE FIRST TIME (WE ARE A SUPER FRIENDLY BUNCH, PROMISE), THERE IS SOMETHING VERY COMFORTING ABOUT JOINING WITH A PARTNER-IN-CRIME. AMIDST PLENTY OF GIGGLES, BBR’S TIGHTEST DUO ANISSA AND SANDRA SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH BBR, THEIR AMAZING RESULTS AND THE MUTUAL ADORATION THEY HAVE FOR EACH OTHER THAT MAKES LIFE BETTER IN AND OUT OF THE GYM.
Having an accountability buddy (whether it’s your best friend or a new gym buddy with similar aspirations) can be a game changer when committing to sessions, goals and achieving results. We get to know the quiet and lovely yin of Sandra and her yang, the energetic, bubbly Anissa, who are the perfect example of how you can take your training to the next level with a friend by your side…
BBR: So, you two obviously have history – how did you first meet?
Anissa: We met when our middle children started kindy (who are now 20!) and we both had new babies, around 15 years ago. We just gelled because we were in similar positions, we are similar in so many ways like parenting and life views so it’s always been easy between us. Plus, when you have a large family not many people say, “Oh, please come over”! (giggles)
(Ed’s note: Anissa has four kids, Sandra has three)
BBR: What first inspired you two to sign up for Bodies by Ryan?
A: I had completely ruptured my hamstring off the bone and had to have it surgically reattached, so I’d done lots of rehab with an exercise physiologist and we were at another gym where I was slowly rehabbing. I went on holiday and I’m pretty active but I was really struggling on the climbs of the walks we were doing. So, over the Christmas break of 2017/18 I spoke with a friend who’s a Bodies by Ryan member, Brenda and I realised I needed to try this and do something different, because what I was doing wasn’t working.
Sandra: I really loved the local gym we were at and could have happily kept going, but I knew we weren’t really getting a lot of progress. When we heard about the combined food and exercise program – that really convinced me to join. I agreed to meet Ryan with Anissa, mainly for moral support and thought I wouldn’t join because I wasn’t sure I was ready to put in so much effort! Before I knew it, we were both signed up and we started a few days later.
BBR: So Sandra, who was more persuasive to join BBR – Anissa or Ryan?
S: (Laughs) It was probably meeting Ryan. He’s so positive, his energy and enthusiasm for everything and genuine passion for what he does, with no pretentiousness about it.
BBR: What was your first impression?
S: We started everything straight away, the food and all the training. It was probably the hardest two weeks of my life! I was in tears!
A: She told me she hated me! (both laugh)
S: Thankfully Brenda gave me the heads up, when I told her I didn’t have huge fitness goals like Anissa and felt I didn’t need a six pack either – she said ‘you’ll be quite miserable for a week, but you’ll get over it and then you’ll love it’. Not only was the training much more intense, but full cream coffees to black coffee and removing all the food I used to think was healthy was a big adjustment.
BBR: Yet you still kept going… what hooked you?
S: Our bodies dramatically changed in that first month. We got Dexa scans so we could really see our results.
A: It was really important to look at the Dexa scan because it wasn’t a lot of weight dropped on the scales but we had so many people coming up to us saying ‘oh my god, what are you doing?!’ Physically, people could see the results of all the work we were doing.
S: Also, the guys were so on the ball with technique. I had tennis elbow and Ayrton in particular was right there if I was doing anything he thought I shouldn’t, giving me something else to do instead. I also have sciatic pain on and off so I’m very cautious with my back. I really needed assistance with lifting correctly and all the BBR guys are so on top of safety and perfecting technique so I got stronger while my injury healed.
A: There’s no BS here, no rev or hype. I mean, Ryan gets excited and he does his Facebook rants, which reminds me very much of myself when I get excited, but there’s a real genuineness we feel here. The trainers genuinely enjoy being here as much as we do. I also love the fact people get around you, celebrating the big and the small. There’s a real mix here, not just athletes and fit young things, but people who do a push up for the first time. You feel like you can just be who you are.
BBR: Did it make a huge difference starting with a buddy?
S: You know, everyone is so friendly here and it’s a gorgeous environment, but of course it was reassuring to have someone there for your first time! Anissa and I support each other through whatever mood and celebrate any improvements, we really notice if one of us does something great… and we have a giggle and a laugh if we’re having an off day! There’s definitely no competitiveness between us.
A: Sandra is the lovely yin to my high energy yang! I know that there’s unconditional support there, she really encourages me and I’m just myself! It also really helps knowing the other person is booked into the same training sessions, you’ll never pull out last minute.
BBR: What if one of you is on holiday?!
S: It’s not the same of course, but because it’s so friendly here you want to keep coming. It’s the first time I’ve ever kept going to the gym when Anissa’s away. In the past I’d just walk and do other things.
A: I’m so proud of you for that!
BBR: What does your schedule look like now?
S: We pretty much go to the same sessions every week together, I’m consistently coming four times a week and sometimes five, while Anissa is consistently coming five times. The beauty of our 6am session is that most things don’t happen until after that, so we rarely miss it.
A: In the past, we trained after school drop off because we have so many kids to sort out so it was a shock to the system when we first started the early classes! But it’s changed my life. I feel so much more on top of things now because I get my gym done early and then my day starts on a really positive note from the great vibe and energy in the gym.
BBR: What goals have you hit since starting at BBR?
A: We had incredible Dexa scan results, but I’m also back to playing netball four times a week! When I started at BBR, I was seven months into my 12-month rehab program and my doctors told me I may or may not ever get back to netball. Well, when I played my first game all the girls on my team were gobsmacked. They noticed the changes and told me I was playing stronger than I did pre-injury.
S: I love walking with my husband and I’m so much faster now. We went to Albany and hiked up Bluff Knoll and I had no idea how hard it would be, but I did it and I know a year previously I would have struggled. Walking and hills are so much easier now. I also play tennis and just started golf, I just love the feeling of being generally really fit and how it impacts so much of my life.
BBR: Do you have any new goals you’re working towards?
A: I reinjured my knee skiing recently so I’m working on that at the moment. I’ve done a session with Mike in the strength gym, which was great because he has a strong sporting background so he understands my sport, too. We’ve been resisting the strength gym because we didn’t want to get big and muscley, but I know it’s not like that now – its about slowing things down, perfecting technique and activating the correct muscles. I’ve managed to get back lunging thanks to Mike, which I thought I wouldn’t be able to do again.
S: For me, I’m working on achieving more core strength, which has improved a lot but I know I can progress further there.
BBR: So, what about the food… is it still a struggle after the initial changes?
S: I never wanted to do a diet, we’ve see a lot of diets in our time so we were sceptical when we started but everything Ryan gave us just made sense and it wasn’t difficult really. I didn’t want to do a diet, or a short-term thing, I wanted to make proper changes I could do week to week that would work and I would do it consistently because I enjoy it. I’ve learnt so much about portion sizes, I used to think you just had to eat less of everything and it’s been a real mindset change to realise you can eat more.
A: We have two completely different body shapes and the program worked for both of us. We realised pretty quickly this was something special and feels different to other programs I’ve done – it’s long term. Oh! And we LOVE the new recipes.
S: You also go through stages when you think ‘the gym is too hard to go home and eat rubbish’! I still have a drink, but when you’re consistently doing the right thing, it all works.
BBR: How about the family, are they BBR converts too?
A: I don’t like to make sweeping changes within the family because they have to find these things out themselves, because then they’ll be more motivated. I try to lead by example instead of telling them what I’m doing but they’re curious and so supportive of what I’m doing. Recently my oldest son trained for the Rotto swim and he started stealing my protein powder and BCAs because I was chatting to him about the benefits… but suddenly I realise I need to go back and stock up again! But it’s great, he’s found it’s really made a difference for him too, so I didn’t mean to draw him in but they start to follow when it’s working for you!
S: The new recipe book has been fantastic, I’ve been cooking the meals for my whole family and they love it.
BBR: So, outside of the gym are you as close? Nobody comes between you at the gym, you two are a rock solid pair!
A: We’re in constant contact, Sandra’s my first port of call for anything. She’s an amazing woman, she really is.
S: (blushes) Anissa is the emotional one!
A: (laughs) She just levels me out and gives me brutal honesty! I tell people, she’s an absolute laugh but she’ll tell you exactly what she thinks. I love her to death.
S: Anissa’s so enthusiastic, and she’s strong and determined and has a good sense of values about family and friendship. But she’s very touchy feely…
A: She’s not a hugger… but I hug her anyway!
1. Fave HIIT station
A: Are there ones people look forward to? (laughs) Ok, I do like the ball slams.
S: I like any of the core exercises, the BBR slam is a good one.
2. Least fave HIIT station
A: Anything with jumping because I struggle and it makes me frustrated with myself because I like to give everything a good go!
S: The assault bike, because Anissa doesn’t do it with her hamstring so I get all the attention from the trainers! Although, I might hate sleds more…
3. Fave local café and order
A: Blue Duck or Barchetta on Sunday mornings with my husband Nigel after our big walk together and it’s always an avo smash. It’s our reconnect time.
S: I love Standing Room in Claremont with its community vibe, they always remember your order! For a treat, it’s Empire in Claremont for zucchini bread.
Both: We also both love dirty chais from Froth – please come back Emma!
4. Fave BBR recipe
S: Turmeric and Coconut Chicken Bowl
A: Nasi Goreng with Satay Chicken
5. Fave cheat meal
S: Is wine a cheat meal? (both lose it laughing) My cheats are less about food and more a wine or a gin and tonic!
A: I have to agree, gin and tonic and some chocolate for me.
Bonus. Fave way to motivate to train
S: Booking ourselves in a week ahead, laying our clothes out the night before so there’s no need for motivation the next morning. You just get up and go and once you get there, you’re really glad you made the effort.
A: Yes, it’s all about being organised the night before!