“Twelve months on… it feels like I never had knee surgery.”

Today we’d like to share with you Libbie’s, one of our members, personal fitness story with you all. As of right now, this story began two years ago. Enjoy!

This story comes in three parts.

| Part One |

[First posted August 8, 2014]

I’ve always been active since school. I liked playing team sports the best. When I got into Uni, I stopped playing sports except for the rare recreational soccer game with friends because I didn’t really like the pressures of playing competitively.

When I was in year 4, I decided I wanted to work with computers, so I became a software engineer. I also picked up graphic arts, self-publishing comics and video games as primary hobbies. Back then I could easily sit through a 24 episode Anime marathon in one go or 3-5 hours of continuous online gaming.

If I were to imagine a world where KERRIE FITNESS wasn’t my second home, I’d be spending 40 hours a week working on my laptop, 15 hours a week sitting in a train to work, 15-25 hours with “sit-down” hobbies. That’s almost half the week on by butt, and I wasn’t even counting weekends!

Coupled with the fact that software engineers tend to network and celebrate over pizza and beer, and my tendency to consume whole bags of lollies and energy drinks when work gets difficult, I definitely would have been a statistic for the overweight.

Luckily, I was saved from all that when my cousin talked me into joining Fitness First Campbelltown with her. We would faff around on the cardio machines thinking we had achieved something and go home. Eventually, she stopped going regularly, but I decided to press on.

I soon found that I disliked machines and hated working out by myself. So one faithful Saturday morning, I decided to try out the BODYCOMBAT™ class, instructed by none other than Kerrie! The first class I attended felt really awkward. When I moved left, the rest of the class would move right. My timing for punches and kicks were a couple of seconds slower than everyone else. It didn’t matter though, it was love at first class! There was no standing around being indecisive about what to work on next and for the first time since I joined, I really felt like I accomplished something because I could feel “results” the following day.

So for the next seven years, I became a Saturday morning Combat regular and would try my best not to miss a class. Over time, I scheduled other classes whenever I could after work. At first I thought all I needed was cardio. It took while, but eventually I realised that adding a strength class like BODYPUMP™ made for even better muscle tone and stronger legs. I took the high impact options all the time because I LOVED tuck jumps, air jacks, split knees and jumping evasive side kicks.

Everything was going great. Exercise helped me breeze through pregnancy, post-pregnancy recovery, and for years, saved me from using up sick days. More importantly, for 5-7 hours per week, I wasn’t sitting on my butt!

Then, about three months before KERRIE FITNESS was due to open, I spoiled it all by completely tearing the cruciate ligament in my knee. The bitter irony: it broke during a Combat class!

It happened so quickly, I don’t even remember the minor details anymore. It was pretty much jump kick, LOUD CRACK and then a horrible realisation that something was seriously wrong with my knee as it gave way while I threw a jab. I went to see a doctor right away and then physio as soon as I could. A couple of weeks and an MRI scan later, it was confirmed: grade three ligament tear in my knee and it would require surgery to repair completely.

Exercise is supposed to make you stronger and you’re constantly encouraged to push past your limit. So what’s going on? The unfortunate truth is, sometimes in the adrenaline rush, you push too hard past your limit and when you forget about technique, you open yourself up to the possibility of breaking something.

Living with a trick knee was a horrible experience. I had to change my stance in Boxing and MMAXFIT classes because I had trouble staying upright whenever my random training partner hit the focus pad/shield. Kicking too hard, too high, twisting my lower body too much, doing scissors in the air too fast all made my knee vulnerable to giving way. There were no “ifs” or “buts” about it – I needed knee reconstruction right away.

Apparently having a really strong knee was the key to a quick post-op recovery. So in the months before surgery, my physio gave me exercises to do that focused on strengthening the muscles around my knee. I also chose to continue on with group fitness classes anyway because I probably would have gone insane if I didn’t get my regular dose of endorphins. But I modified my performance in all programs to focus on low-impact options, technique and upper body movements. If I couldn’t use my legs, I’d wave my arms harder. If I couldn’t jump, I’d squat lower. If I couldn’t do high knees, I’d march with intent.

I enjoyed about a month of KERRIE FITNESS classes before finally, the day of the surgery came. All I remember from it was getting a lot of “See? Exercise is bad for you” jokes and discovering that there’s actually a real life, functional use for hip bridges.

The next day I was sent home with crutches. My focus during the early weeks of recovery was to ice my knee often to keep down the swelling and range of motion exercises. After a week, I was able to commute to work again. After twelve days I ditched the crutches because they were starting to affect how I walked.

After two weeks cardio machines in the form of stationary bicycles became my friend again. My knee was so swollen I had trouble completing even one revolution. Surgery took away whatever muscle definition I used to have.

Week by week the number of exercises I was allowed to do increased. After six weeks I felt confident enough to walk through the hot pink doors to do classes again. Pump and Combat were the only classes I did for a while and I had to start both from the beginning – using the barbell as a post to map out squats and lunges to focus on range of motion and technique, and walking my way through Combat to map out my foot work and focus on technique.

My body was quick to tell me when I had overdone it and some weeks it felt like I had gone backwards in progress, dropping back down to exercises that I thought I had already graduated from or skipping classes to focus on recovery and giving my legs a good stretch.

But week after week, leg press after boring leg press, the swelling started to subside. After sixteen weeks, I was back to my pre-op leg press weight of 120kg and I had full range of motion pain-free. It was finally time to ease myself back into BODYATTACK™ – WHOOP WHOOP!

It took nine months to work my way back up to my pre-injury Pump squat weight and another month or two before I started playing with high-impact options again. But I still replace things like continuous jumping jacks with low-impact options. I picked up Kerrie Core as an extra class when I found out how great it was at building up my hamstring – some of which was used to replace the cruciate ligament I lost.

Twelve months on, although it feels like I never had knee surgery I know there’s still a lot of work to be done. Although I won’t be able to complete an entire class doing the “Hare” options anytime soon (maybe forever!) I don’t mind having the agility of a “Turtle”. They have a different kind of strength. They may not jump very high, but boy can they get down low. And steadfast determination allowed them to win the race.

The awesome thing about group fitness classes – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a “Hare” or a “Turtle”. Everyone starts together, finishes together and wins together. It’s like I was playing team sports again and the entire KF crew have my back. And I’ll have your back! If you’re stuck for low impact options, come find me – front and a little to the left!

A note from Kerrie: A very big thank you Libbie for taking the time to share with us all. I still remember in the 7 months it took Trevor and I to find a location to set up KERRIE FITNESS, after Fitness First Campbelltown sold, I was so sad for you to receive your message that you had damaged your knee. Now look how far you have come. I can speak for Trevor and myself when I say we couldn’t be happier to be a special part of your recovery and watch you get stronger week by week. Leaps and bounds. You definitely have a strength like no other. Keep up the awesome work. You’re a treasure x

“I definitely would’ve been a statistic for the overweight.”

| Part Two |

[First posted September 2, 2015]

Hi KF Peeps!

I’m still only two weeks into my postpartum recovery period and I’m totally missing the group energy at KERRIE FITNESS.

For those who don’t know me, I’ve been a regular group fitness participant for over nine years. I started with Kerrie’s Saturday morning BODYCOMBAT class at Fitness First Campbelltown and then became a KERRIE FITNESS member when it opened two years ago.

Last time I shared my story it was about exercising in group fitness classes post knee reconstruction. This time I wanted to share my experience with exercising through pregnancy.

This is actually the second time I’ve participated in group fitness classes during pregnancy. The first time I was training with Kerrie and other group fitness instructors at Fitness First Campbelltown. The second time I trained at KERRIE FITNESS.

It’s a bit impractical to compare my babies to each other because they will be different no matter what. But I looked back at our health records and was quite surprised at the similarities.

FIRST PREGNANCY
* Exercised from Week 0 to Week 36
* Went to the gym 1 to 3 times per week @ Fitness First Campbelltown, primarily Saturday morning BODYCOMBAT (with Kerrie!), then Wednesday evening BODYATTACK and Monday evening BODYCOMBAT. Note: cardio clases only.
* My weight @ Wk 40: 72.9kg
* Average blood pressure was 110/70
* Duration of pregnancy was Wk 40 + 3 days
* Birth weight: 3.3kg
* Birth length: 51cm

SECOND PREGNANCY
* Exercised from Week 0 to Week 41 + 2 days!
* Went to the gym 5 days a week @ KERRIE FITNESS on all 7 programs (which feature both cardio and resistance training) until Week 39, then selected programs based on convenience / mood until Week 41 + 2 days.
* My weight @ Wk 40: 73.1kg
* Average blood pressure was 100/70
* Duration of pregnancy was Wk 41 + 3 days
* Birth weight: 3.2kg
* Birth length: 50cm

I was considered pretty “fit” both times, but despite exercising a lot more this time around, my weight and blood pressure was still around the same. So I don’t think it was the volume that was an important factor, but CONSISTENCY – something that is preached quite often at KF!

If volume didn’t make a difference, what’s the point of going 5 days a week as opposed to 1-3 days a week?

Strength and aesthetics! I was fortunate enough to have the same obstetrician for both pregnancies. During my first consultation, he mentioned how much more athletic I looked this time around. The difference between then and now was that I added resistance training into my weekly routine.

When you become pregnant, you get taken out of your comfort zone from Week 0 until delivery and postpartum. I found that the best way to deal with the hardships of pregnancy and labour was to train where putting yourself outside your comfort zone is encouraged – KERRIE FITNESS! In particular, KERRIE CORE. This program is awesome because it works all the parts of the body that come under the most stress during pregnancy and labour – back, abdominals, pelvic floor. Well, technically speaking, pelvic floor exercises aren’t part of the regular program, but when your baby bump gets really big it’s more practical to replace the different flavours of crunches on your back with pelvic floor exercises. I wouldn’t have made time for them otherwise!

It sounds a little bit crazy, but doing group fitness classes regularly have other benefits besides making you stronger. Unlike the first pregnancy where I had an 8 hour lead up to the second stage of labour, the build up the second time around was a lot shorter – about half the time compared to the first time. The following helped me make it through the second stage of labour:

(1) breathing through the pain
(2) listening to instructions through the pain
(3) holding on for 30 seconds during contractions until it was time to “push” to avoid tearing (and until my doctor arrived!)
(4) listening to my body to know when it’s the right time to “push”

Sounds like familiar phrases in a typical KF class, no? I’m also pretty sure all those KERRIE CORE classes increased my pain threshold!

The best thing about exercising through pregnancy at KERRIE FITNESS – the instructors are more like personal trainers than your typical “one-stop-shop” group fitness instructors. If you maintain a solid relationship by coming regularly, listening to your doctor’s recommendations and keeping Kerrie and Trevor up to date with your progress, you’re sure to be in good hands in terms of safe alternative options as your pregnancy progresses.

BODYATTACK / KHIIT became “walking and squatting through everything”.
BODYCOMBAT became “walking with punches and kicks”.
BODYSTEP became “walking with a step”
ZUMBA became “walking with a little hip movement”.
BODYPUMP was just a matter of dropping enough weight to still feel a little bit of resistance.

I was a lot more comfortable exercising all the way to the delivery date at KF than anywhere else because of the closer relationship I have with the instructors.

“Fitness” for me isn’t about how high you can jump or how far you can run or how heavy you can lift. It’s about being in control of yourself both physically and mentally. It’s about being able to control where your punches go, being able to control how you jump and where you land, being able to control where your weights go. Keeping the hormones and the “baby blues” at bay by doing the things that make you happy.

Most importantly – being in control of what you put in your mouth!

Which leads me to the next goal. I’m not going to lie – I snacked on Tim Tams and Pringles in the name of “cravings” and eating for two. But to really embrace the “KERRIE FITNESS” way, I’ll have to start changing my diet and seeing where that leads me. Hopefully it will lead to the “holy grail” (abs) or at least a flatter post-pregnancy tummy 🙂

A note from Kerrie: Absolutely amazing Lib. Thanks for sharing with us all. We miss you in the studio and are so looking forward to having you back 🙂

“Now that preparing healthy meals are a part of my daily routine, there’s no going back anymore!”

| Part Three | The Final Piece |

[First posted November 25, 2015]

I’ve been training at KERRIE FITNESS since it opened in 2013 – even longer in group fitness class with Kerrie when she was still an instructor with Fitness First Campbelltown. All that time going to the gym and working out, I’ve maintained an average healthy weight of 59-61kgs.

I was pretty content. Given my chosen profession as a software engineer – where I’m sitting for 8 hours or more, living on coffee and energy drinks, snacking on lollies while chasing deadlines and networking with peers over pizza and beer – regular, consistent exercise helped me to avoid putting on the weight and regulate stress during major projects.

Fast-forward to this year, I welcomed bubs #2 into the world. On maternity leave until at least the end of the year. Perfect opportunity to complete a long time fitness objective: a mid-section to match all this training I’m doing!!

A few things about me that will explain why I haven’t been able to reach this goal despite all the group fitness classes I participate in:

1 – I’m Filipino. Besides being one of many cultures that love and gather over food (and lots of it), the staple for Filipino meals is rice (and lots of it). We can have rice for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. In addition, a lot of the dishes I grew up on consist mostly of orange, yellow and red vegetables and not many leafy green ones.

2 – I love my noodles, rice and pasta dishes as much as I love satisfying my sweet tooth.

3 – When my friends and I go out, sometimes we like to select places based on their dessert menu.

4 – In general, I don’t like cooking. Unless I’m simmering something for an hour, if it takes more than 15 – 20 minutes to prepare or contain a lot of “complicated” ingredients, I probably won’t make it. Especially when I was working, I tend to make all meals on the weekend and if we run out, it’s take away!

5 – It’s a very personal preference, but counting calories does my head in. I can’t do it consistently. Truth be told, these days I find myself checking the nutritional info on packages more often than I used to.

How do I reach my goal when upbringing and personal preferences are stacked against me?

Answer: KERRIE FITNESS Foodspirations! Occasional inspirational posts in the form of Food Porn.

After giving birth, I had to complete mandatory 6 weeks of recovery before training again, so it was the perfect time to give these healthy food ideas a try. The plan was to choose two meals – lunch and dinner – to follow faithfully during the week. On the weekend, I would cook meals that I can enjoy with the rest of the family. The following week I’d choose another two and then rotate combinations as I like.

Foodspirations are awesome, especially when juggling a rambunctious 4 year old and a newborn bub because most of them take under 15 minutes to make. Most of the time, cooking brown rice in the rice cooker is as long as the cooking time gets and frying eggs in a non-stick frypan is as complicated as preparations get.

Then on the weekends, I get to enjoy the meals I grew up on with my family and eat the triple choc muffins I occasionally make with my daughter.

On my 6 week post partum check up, I was actually below the weight I was the day I entered antenatal care with my doctor. Today, continuing with my Foodspiration-inspired meal plans and just over 6 weeks after restarting my training at KERRIE FITNESS, I’m another 4 kilograms lighter at around 55/56kg.

Now that preparing healthy meals are a part of my daily routine, there’s no going back anymore!

I really value my KF membership. No other group fitness instructor is as motivating when it comes to chasing results. Kerrie and Trevor can help you find it even if you spend most of the year doing low impact options. You don’t even have to pay extra for sensible advice on nutrition – it’s all there if you go through the photos.

For general fitness, all you need is love of fitness, determination, commitment to be consistent, and EVERYTHING KF has to offer. Then everything else becomes a matter of time – time to set aside to work towards a better you, time to get used to the moves, time to let the stretch marks sort itself out!!

Thanks Kerrie and Trevor for helping me to master the hardest discipline of all.

‘Till next time, Libbie <3

A note from Kerrie: We’ve all noticed your awesome results Lib. Your shape, tone, you look amazing. Congrats on your results.

I’m an open book, I share with everyone what works for me and are so happy you have taken all that on board. Going to miss you in the morning classes when you go back to work next year! Keep up the great work. Once you find what works, my favourite word (besides MORE!) MAINTENANCE!! Kerrie 🙂