Amy Mackenzie

From a very young age I have always been incredibly active. Growing up I was like most normal kids, swimming lessons, bike rides and trips to the playground. But there was something not so normal compared to others. From the age of 4 I started acrobatic gymnastics. Like many other things it started as a hobby, training once or twice a week. However, as the years went on. It seemed that gymnastics was ‘my thing’, and I was destined to progress and succeed in the sport. By the age of 10 I was training up to 18 hours a week and competing internationally. By the age of 12 I was training 24 hours a week, I had represented my country and was now touring the country performing in the acrobatic troupe Spelbound. Of course this time of my life was such an incredible experience, and something I will forever be so proud of. But of course it comes with a hell of a lot of hard work.

I continued to train these huge hours, until the age of 16, continuing to perform and compete for my country. I decided to step away from the sport at the age of 16, as the demands of the training became too much. Of course by 16 my body was desperate to go through puberty so managing my weight, (which is something that was hugely important in a sport like acrobatics) was tough. I was training 20+ hours a week and running for 1-2 hours everyday to keep my weight down. I just needed a break.

When that break finally came, for a long time I refused to do any sort of exercise. I just wanted to sit and eat chocolate and I think for the first week I had retired that’s exactly what I did. It was great for a month or so, it was still a novelty to just sit and watch telly without knowing you had to get in a leotard later on. But as time went on I began to lose myself. I had no idea who I was without gymnastics. What else was I good at, I had no idea. I had never done anything other than gymnastics. About a year after retiring I got a personal trainer at my local gym. At first it was okay, I had a coach telling me what to do, which was something I was used to but I just didn’t feel as strong as I used to. It felt like some sort of punishment. Of course my body wasn’t in any sort of shape that it used to be when I was training, that was something I found incredibly difficult to cope with. Because of this I went into panic mode. I stopped exercising again because everything I did just didn’t feel good enough. I wasn’t seeing any physical changes or improvements so I felt there was no point.

Another year passes and finally my path crossed with the right people. Those incredible people being my current dance teachers. They coach me, support me and have taught me that I am talented and successful away from gymnastics. I now dance 11 hours a week and get to condition my body as well as perform without such high stakes.

March 2020, COVID-19 hit and the dance school had shut, I wasn’t working so it’s safe to say, my anxiety was through the roof at the thought of not doing what I knew I was good at, burning off the anxious energy dancing usually takes care of. So day 1 of Lockdown, I made it a goal of mine to workout everyday. I had managed to get hold of a spin bike so I was spinning everyday along with endless amounts of home workouts.

Now reflecting back on lockdown and where I am currently at, I have finally realised that for me exercise is so important to keep my mental health at bay. The physical changes my body have made are a bonus. Happiness is the most important and that is what exercise gives me. The fact I feel happy, makes me feel strong, not how many press ups I can do.”

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