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MY STORY

 

Growing up in Launceston, Tasmania -  fitness played a massive role in my life.

 

From running around West Launceston delivering milk and bread on our family home delivery business to playing multiple sports including swimming, tennis, hockey and running. I was the kid that, "should apply herself more to her studies", and find a better balance between school, the family business and sport. On reflection, whilst not perfect, I learnt many valuable life lessons and this lifestyle created a wonderful work ethic and perspective. 

 

Fast forward to 1999 and meeting my husband when I was just 18! In the year 2000 I joined Tasmania Police, in 2003 we got married and we had our first baby in 2004 - BAM!  I worked as a Police Officer for 7 years before we started moving for my husband’s work. Over the next 4 years we moved between three states, many houses and had two more babies. 

 

During this time, I was a stay-at-home mum, and I didn't do any regular form of structured exercise. Our support networks were limited to the lovely friends we made along the way, I was flat out with the kids and finances were stretched. Our daily walks to the park were the sum of any exercise. I certainly did not participate in any form of postnatal rehabilitation nor was it ever encouraged. 

In 2009 my life changed and consequently my outlook on life changed. I was 38 weeks pregnant at the time with our third child when my mum was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She was 57 at the time of diagnosis. Mum and Dad were busy packing up to semi-retire by the beach when Mum became sick. Mum made it through major surgery and survived. She was given only weeks to live. We decided to try and relocate to Tasmania and spent as much time with her as possible. After a huge amount of juggling and another pack up, we moved back to Tasmania at the end of 2009. My husband flew in and out from Melbourne for 6 months and I helped Dad look after Mum and the kids and I spent as much time with her as possible. Mum was never the same after surgery, she was confused, struggled with daily tasks and didn’t know who we were most of the time. She was alive but not living. It was the saddest time of my life. Mum passed away in September 2010 at 58 years of age. It broke my heart and changed me forever. 

My husband and I and the kids have always been a team. We work well together, we communicate well and always try to physically be together. After mums death, we packed up for the last time and headed back to Brisbane so my husband could finish his training, so we could finally return to Tasmania to settle. There was light at the end of the tunnel! 

 

In 2012 we returned and purchased our home in Hobart. My husband and I always talked about having 3 or 4 children. In 2012 we welcomed our fourth child. Our family was complete. 

 

Fun fact, our eldest and youngest children are Tasmanian, the second is Victorian and the third is a Queenslander. 

What I’ve learnt is that life is short. You get told this all the time but it’s not until you are living it first hand that you truely understand what this means. Subsequently, I’ve learnt to be a more patient and present mother and wife. I have learnt to say no more often (I’m a helper so this is a tricky one for me) and I’ve learnt that it is vitally important that I prioritise my own health and wellbeing. Fitness was always an important part of my life and I needed it to function at my best!

It wasn’t until our youngest was about three years old that I really got back into a regular, structured exercise routine. In a roundabout way, I ended up at Freedom Fitness, loved the small group style training and committed to locking in time for myself each week. I’ve never left!

There is so much more to my story, I've played a lot of hockey in my life, my dad has his own health issues (he had a heart attack when I was 12 years old!) My eldest brother has Asperger’s Syndrome but wasn’t diagnosed until he was 21 (that's living in the 80s and 90s for you), our second daughter has a random bone condition and as a woman I lost my identity and my confidence for a huge chunk of my adult life. I struggled with the noise around stay-at-home mums vs working mums. I always loved and felt very fortunate to be at home with our children but at the same time I felt very judged that I didn’t have a “career”. 

I tell you this because I know many women can relate to my story. It’s so important to know that you are not alone, particularly as a mother. Motherhood can be an extremely isolating and challenging time - particularly the first 5 years. Throw in hormones, a career hiatus, constant sickness and the massive responsibility of keeping little people alive, it can be very overwhelming! Most of the time we are just keeping our heads above the water. 

I knew coming back to Tasmania that returning to the Police Service was not an option. We could not have two shift workers and four small children in the house and expect life to run smoothly.

My experiences and story prompted me to reinvent myself and my career! I had completed my fitness training before I joined the Police Service but that was a long time ago. I decided to re-complete my Certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness and I completed additional training in Pre & Post Natal Training and Female Health + Performance. I started working at Freedom Fitness in 2018 and launched the Freedom for Mums program not long after. In 2023 this program evolved into MumSTRONG and is now offered in 3 locations. Accessing women and providing a supportive and fun space for mums to gather to build connections, knowledge and strength is so fulfilling and a much needed service. Look out 2024 - STRONG WOMEN Lindisfarne is here! 

You can follow me on social media – Sarah Castley – Women's Fitness Specialist:

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