Rebecca Pierro Moodment Week Interview
Nearly half the population will experience mental health issues in their lifetime. With movement a proven way of improving mental health, this Mental Health Week (10-16 October), all 64 Fitness First clubs across Australia will open their doors to the public to promote mental health, support beyondblue, and encourage people to get moving.
Coined, -Moodment Week' (10-16 October) – Fitness First will invite the community to take part in fun-filled fitness activities, for just a $5 donation to help raise funds for beyondblue, and encourage people to move to improve their mood.
With nearly three million Australians experiencing depression and/or anxiety in any one year, Fitness First has decided to open its doors to help create a fit and healthy community and encourage more people on their journey " not just towards physical fitness, but to mental wellbeing.
Fitness First National Fitness Manager, Michael Cunico, said re-evaluating the role fitness can play in someone's life is essential to helping more people navigate a path forward to better overall mental health and wellbeing.
'At Fitness First, we want to encourage more Australians to embrace fitness and its holistic benefits, not just to be physically fit, but also to feel mentally strong, and act as another resource for people dealing with mental health issues."
For many Fitness First employees, raising awareness about the benefits of mental strength and supporting those suffering from mental health is a cause they feel very passionate about.
'40% of the 2,700-strong team at Fitness First chose beyondblue as the charity they would most like to support," said Michael. 'By supporting a cause and organisation we are so passionate about, we hope that through raising funds for beyondblue, we can engage and encourage Australians to embrace fitness and educate others in their community about the mental benefits of fitness."
Anyone interested in participating in Moodment Week can visit their local Fitness First, or go to www.fitnessfirst.com.au to download their seven day Moodment Week guest pass.
Interview with Rebecca Pierro
Question: What do you hope to achieve by being a spokeswomen during Mental Health Week?
Rebecca Pierro: I want to empower people to be their best self, and be able to have an inner strength as much as physical strength.
Question: Why did you first walk into fitness first? How did it turn your life around?
Rebecca Pierro: I came into the Fitness First's The Zone on a whim. I've been a cardio bunny all my life, spin class, boot camp, anything that didn't involve lifting weights. Being a carer for my dad meant that over the years it became more and more difficult to get to the gym at scheduled times. Just before Christmas in 2013, my dad committed suicide. I found him quite some time later. After that, I was so traumatised I couldn't leave the house, couldn't work, couldn't be in public or social situations and there was no hope in hell I even thought about exercise. Basic things like answering my phone, going to a restaurant or walking down the street would put me in full throttle terror mode. I completely isolated myself from the world and was heavily medicated to help me deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and the horrific flashbacks and nightmares that I was going through. I drank a lot, smoked a lot and became very unhealthy physically and emotionally.
On one of my first days back at work, I was walking past The Zone and summed up every ounce of courage to walk in and enquire about membership. I was greeted by Mitch and signed up on the spot, thinking that I would probably never go back because I still didn't want to be around people, but that I had achieved something by stepping out of my comfort zone. Mitch suggested at the time that I also get some personal training. I agreed with a chuckle but thought I would never use it because I would never go back.
I forced myself to start training with a Fitness First personal trainer in September 2014. This was one of the biggest turning points in my life. I wanted to feel strong and see what my body was capable of, so asked him to teach me to use weights and I have never looked back. Every time I thought "I can't", Ollie has turned my thinking to "I can!" and has believed in me 100% along the way.
Joining the zone forced me into social situations in the group classes where I regained my confidence and stopped isolating myself. Every staff member of The Zone has always been nothing but encouraging, motivating and providing me with a wealth of information helping me on my fitness journey. The Zone has helped me become strong on the outside and on the inside too and this has carried over into every situation outside of the gym.
Question: How did going to Fitness First turn -your life around'?
Rebecca Pierro: I started off not even being able to squat 15 kgs, but I am now pushing more weight than I ever possibly imagined, and my body fat has dropped to the teens. I look back on what I have achieved in the last 12 months and I can't believe that little weak old me has really done so much. I am healthier and more aware of my body than I ever have been in my life, and I'm in a great place emotionally. I feel like nothing will stop me or hold me back!
uestion: How did I overcome negative thoughts to join the gym?
Rebecca Pierro: It was really difficult, there were some days I'd get into the change rooms and then leave because I was so terrified. I started to change the way I thought and reminded myself that there were some people in the world that weren't physically able to get to a gym like me, and that my dad had died because he didn't have the physical strength to seek help and I should be grateful to be able to walk into a gym.
Question: What have you achieved since becoming a member at Fitness First?
Rebecca Pierro: What haven't I achieved?! For the first time in my life I feel like I am strong enough to conquer anything! I am a totally different person and have a completely healthy body image which I never had before. Exercise used to be about torturing myself skinny, now it's about feeling strong and empowered and grateful for the support Fitness First has shown me.
Question: And, how has that helped your mental health?
Rebecca Pierro: It's helped my mental health by giving me complete confidence in my health and my body image, and shown me a physical resilience I had no idea was inside me.
Question: What advice do I have for Australians during Moodment Week?
Rebecca Pierro: ANYTHING is possible, there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can achieve anything you put your mind to. For every bad day, there are 100 good days right around the corner. Focus on the positive and you will be surprised at the person that's hiding inside you.
Question: More importantly why should those of us with mental health issues choose to exercise?
Rebecca Pierro: When you're feeling flat, exercise can seem like the hardest thing in the world to do. It just takes one small step at a time to force yourself into unknown territory that really begins to challenge your mind and your views on health. Health is not just a physical thing, it is also about your mental well-being.
Interview by Brooke Hunter