YOU might think the kind of rigorous training required to become just the fourth woman ever to notch up 100 matches for her country would be about the toughest physical challenge netball ace Cath Cox had ever faced.
But she says all that was nothing compared to motherhood, with her new training partner — her two-year-old daughter, Harper — keeping her particularly busy.
“Sleep is overrated,” she laughs.
“I needed 10 hours of sleep back in the day, but I really had no idea until I had a child. They keep you a lot busier than you planned.”
It’s now Harper who dreams up the training regimen. Cath just has to keep up.
“Fitting in exercise is difficult,” she says.
“But I get to carry her up three flights of stairs at least three times a day. She’s now 15kg, so it’s good weight training.
“She loves to dance and do all that kind of stuff. So I find I’m goofing around with her in the house. I’ve done more exercise since having her than I did before that.”
Cox came to Australia from New Zealand with her parents when she was six years old, and was playing in the national team at 21, including a stint as acting captain.
Her premiership-winning career has included playing with the Sydney Swifts and appearances with Perth and Melbourne clubs.
But retirement and Harper’s arrival, as well as commentary commitments and coaching, brought major changes to her life and her fitness routine. But she says still has a need to keep moving that is unlikely to fade any time soon.
“It’s completely different when you retire, you get your life back. You’re not subject to training schedules,” she says.
“But I’d go stir-crazy if I was just sitting at home doing nothing. When it’s raining for two or three days in a row, I start to get a bit of a tic because I need to get outside and get my body moving.”
While health and fitness remains a priority, Cox says that with no coach there to crack the whip, her approach to exercise has softened, with low-stress walks replacing high-intensity workouts.
“My favourite exercise is definitely walking because it’s easy. I was never a fan of running and hard training, even when I was an elite athlete. I don’t know how I ever made it to the top of my sport, but somehow I did,” she says.
“Now I just like to walk for 30 or 40 minutes a day. It’s not so much a power walk as going to get a coffee and maybe reading the papers on the way home.
“I don’t do strenuous stuff anymore. It was never enjoyable. I just like to be out in the fresh air and get going.”
LOAD NO MORE
Her diet has changed considerably, too. At the beginning of her netball career, her pre-game ritual always includes carbo-loading with a big bowl of pasta or something similar, but as her career progressed, she began making smarter food choices.
“Toward the end of my career, I realised that you didn’t need carbs as much. My whole junior career was about carbs, carbs, carbs,” she says.
“We weren’t really educated about carbohydrates being in other foods like fruit and vegetables so in fact, my diet was probably unbalanced. Towards the end of my career, I hardly ate a carbohydrate.
“Now my biggest challenge is finding convenient and simple healthy food options being a busy mum and also being conscious of helping to educate my daughter on eating healthy.
“My go to when I am busy in the morning is just quickly whipping up a smoothie and I can then have it on the run.”
JUST DO IT
“Get out of bed and do it. If you postpone a walk or some activity until later in the day or evening, it never gets done,” Cath says when asked about motivation.
“Create a fun environment by getting a friend to go for a walk with you and have a bit of a gas bag. You’ll do 40 minutes before you know it and you’ll have solved the problems of the world as well.”
What’s your favourite exercise routine?
Just keeping up with my two-year-old daughter.
What’s your secret for a good night’s sleep?
I struggle a bit. If I hear a noise I worry and think it’s my daughter. Unfortunately, it apparently keeps happening until they are 18 or 19.
What’s your food philosophy?
My philosophy with food is to enjoy it. I don’t deny myself anything if I feel like it, but I never eat to excess.
What’s your healthy food?
What are your food weaknesses?
Wine and those little biscuits called TV Snacks. But I limit myself to four a day.