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LGBT Girls: Health & Fitness

KARINA, 30

“I first became seriously involved in health and fitness in my mid-20s. I managed to give up cigarettes after 12 years of smoking and began to take my health more seriously. I lost a few pounds and felt more confident, bit it wasn’t until I joined a women’s lifting gym that I really began to understand exactly what physical activity could do for me.

The effects exercise has on my health are both social and psychological; the physical changes have impacted on my overall wellbeing which culminated in an improved lifestyle. I have taken up triathlon training and I am aiming to complete the Dublin Iron man 70.3 in August of this year.

Having only learned how to swim in January of 2016, the 1.9km swim that’s part of the triathlon has been the most challenging in terms of preparation. Still, while the Ironman training has brought new challenges, the benefits that result from setting a goal to aim for, along with the increase in physical activity, remain the same. Reaching my goals gives me a real sense of achievement and helps me to push myself even further.”

SERENA, 32

“I started playing football when I was a child in Italy, when the game was a male-dominated sport and girls were not welcome – but that didn’t stop me! I have been swimming since I was eight years old too, and have also been running for many years. In the past I practiced the long jump and I am also a fan of cycling, using my bike everyday to travel.

I’ve always preferred team sports because you can share the same interest and enjoy it as a group while making new friends. I also prefer activities where water or nature is involved – I get bored in the gym. The activity of running in particular helped me to get over a break-up two years ago. It helped me to forget and to find the inner strength to move on and start fresh with a new life.

I believe that fitness and sport are very powerful when it comes to its influence and impact on the mind. When you practice and dedicate yourself to a sport, nothing seems impossible. With the LGBT girls: health and fitness meet-up I’ve found new friends and inspiration to try new activities. I look forward to many more.”

CHRIS, 29

“I came back to sport and began to take an overall interest in health and fitness last year when I began to experience high levels of anxiety. The discomfort that anxiety brought into my body led me to initially take up running after I read how it helped Bressie to defuse his panic attacks in his book Me and My Mate, Jeffrey.

After my first run I found that there was something about pushing my body to its limits and feeling my heart race as result of exercise, and not nervous adrenaline, that made me feel like I had a handle on the anxiety.

In terms of socialising, fitness was also a way for me to make new friends in a new environment. I am an event organiser with LGBT Girls: Health and Fitness, a social group founded by Karina Murray last year for LGBT women in the Dublin area who have an interest in any aspect of health and fitness including nutrition, sports and mental-wellbeing.

I am also a regular gym goer, a member of a martial arts club near the city center and have recently started training as a complete beginner with the Pink Ladies – a hockey club founded by Etain Kidney in early 2011 for LGBT ladies who like to play Hockey.

Both the team camaraderie and the challenge of learning a new sport is something that I am thoroughly enjoying – not to mention the after training toasties and banter in the local pub!

While I still have levels of anxiety that can at times be uncomfortable to experience, sport serves as an excellent focus and medium for channeling such difficult feelings and provides for me what is an unparalleled sense of release and feel -good factor.”

LORRAINE, 27

“I was always involved in sports as a kid, but more recently started to take it to the next level. I love competition and pushing myself beyond my limitations. Sport drives me out of my comfort zone, both mentally and physically

As well as heightened energy and improved mood from the release of endorphins, working out keeps my head clear, focused and adds further structure to my life. If those aspects alone weren’t of enough benefit, almost every stressful situation in my life has also been solved by sport. It’s a complete release from reality when you need it.

My favorite activities to participate in would be weightlifting, team sports and extreme sports. I got into weightlifting by accident as a byproduct of playing rugby, and since then I’ve always lifted in tandem with other sports.

I love the buzz of lifting heavy with power and speed. At a basic level, your mind just shuts off as you trust that your body will kick in and know how to react. The confidence strength and increased performance that I get from lifting can’t be compared.

In terms of socialising, I find that the best social situations have sport at their center, and that’s why I like LGBT Girls: Health and Fitness. Whether it be as a spectator and analysing a game with someone over a cup of tea, highfiving a friend after achieving a new Personal Best, clapping someone on the back to encourage them to keep going in a race, or crying with someone over a loss, sport undoubtedly brings people together.”

This article appears in the 331 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 331 Issue of GCN