Being strong comes in many forms. To champion both the physical and mental determination women show all year round, we asked these women to share what’s made them their strongest self
International Women’s Day should not be seen as a one-off. It should be seen as a celebration of what women do every day of the year.
Being strong and showing strength is not restricted to the weights room, although it’s a good place to start. It’s a virtue of both the body and the mind. And for generations it was a characteristic that many believed women barely possessed. How wrong they were.
Not only are women’s pain thresholds higher (childbirth, duh!) but there is more and more research emerging to prove that, when it comes to true tests of endurance like ultra marathons, women have the physical and mental grit to leave men in their dust.
And so, in celebration and appreciation of female power in both body and mind, we decided to use International Women’s Day as a platform to continue elevating this conversation.
Here six women share their stories of strength:
Wendy Powell, founder & CEO MUTU System and International Women’s Day Keynote Speaker
Recovery from my own traumatic birth experiences taught me to find empowerment, strength and self-love, where I had felt a lack of control and body shame. I learned first hand that far too many talented and brilliant female humans are held back from being everything they could be, by treatable physical symptoms and low body confidence. I built MUTU System to change this. To educate and empower women to restore dignity, function and confidence in and about their bodies, so that they can be all they want to be; to know they deserve the dignity of a body that works and feels good.
Debra Searle, MVO MBE, International Women’s Day Keynote Speaker
In 2001 I found myself completely alone in the middle of the Atlantic. I’d entered a rowing race with my husband but he’d developed a crippling phobia of the ocean and had to be rescued. I decided to go on alone, rowing 3,300 miles over 3.5 months. I quickly learnt that I couldn’t control whether headwinds blew me back 20 miles over night, or whether I got sunk by a shark or run over by a container ship, but I could always choose the attitude with which I approached each problem. ‘Choose Your Attitude’ became my mantra, helping me to become both physically and mentally stronger. I still use the mantra in my life today, whether I’m training for a cycle race or looking for a way to overcome a business challenge.
Kate Maxey, S&C Master Trainer at Third Space London
Every day we have challenges thrown at us that alter our journey. For me, how we choose to embrace these challenges represents our strength. In 2018 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but early on I decided I wouldn’t let this challenge beat me, be that physically or mentally. It has taught me that life will not always go to plan and to accept the challenges that come your way, beat them and come back stronger than before.
Natalie Gyte, former national boxing champion and Combat Master Trainer at Third Space London
For me, strength is not about physicality, it’s about having confidence in knowing that you are good at what you do. When I was young I played basketball for England. After university I moved into the corporate world for 10 years managing a portfolio for a FTSE100 company. I’m now a boxing coach with a few national titles under my belt. It takes a lot of humility and confidence to change lanes and start at the bottom. But with hard work and the right attitude you will soon be walking the walk.
Ever since I discovered strength training, I’ve been hooked. As my lifts got heavier, my confidence grew, I felt powerful, strong and like I could take on anything. More recently, I’ve been tested with an injury which prevents me from doing what I love to do day in day out, which is lifting and CrossFit. I’ve found that I’m having to be strong in a different way for now but I know that when my body heals I’ll be back with a vengeance and stronger than ever before.
Jayne Lo, Trainer at Third Space London
When I first started working as a PT, I was in a tough, sales orientated environment, and got no support in the running of my PT business. Initially I was shy, I winged it more often than not and made a fool of myself several times. I learned things the hard way, by making mistakes. I doubted my knowledge, doubted my worth as a PT, and doubted myself. Looking back at it now almost 7 years later, I have come to realise that I have positioned myself well – in an environment where I am regularly challenged, have support with education and development. A place where I can strive towards being my strongest self. To this day, I try not to let self-doubt get in the way. I turn every negative experience into a lesson and I ensure my day to day actions build towards a future that I want.