FOR a nine-time Olympic medallist used to a strictly regimented training program, Leisel Jones has found a far simpler way to keep fit in retirement — her dog Neville.
“Having a dog is a good excuse just to go out for a walk and it gets you outside in the fresh air; it’s awesome,” the former swimming champion said.
Jones, who competed at her first Olympics at just 15, struggled to find a routine to replace her arduous training and eating regimen once she retired in 2012.
“When I was competing we had very regimented ways of training and it was very strict, but once you get out into real world there’s just a plethora of information about exercise and nutrition and it can be really overwhelming,” she said.
Apart from Neville the staffy, Jones has found another fitness outlet in supporting charities that require a physical challenge, most recently taking part in the Nelune Foundation’s Lilac Swim to raise money to support people going through cancer treatment.
“I hadn’t put the swimmers and goggles on for a while, but it is such a great cause I had to give it my best shot,” she said.
Her next challenge is one very close to her heart.
“I’m about to do the Kokoda Track later in the year. It’s the 75-year anniversary this year and it’s very special to me because my grandfather served in WWII. I think it’s going to be a very emotional time but I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
“I am a little bit worried because it’s nine or 10 hours of hiking every single day for nine to 10 days. But I like staying dry nowadays so any exercise I can do on land I’m happy about!”
TRAINING FOR TRACK
AFTER years of swimming up and down looking at the black line, Jones is enjoying the challenge of preparing for Kokoda.
“I do a lot of gym work, so I do have the leg strength, but for me it’s going to be about consistent cardio for extended hours of the day,” she said.
“There are some great treks down on the south coast that I can do with Neville, and I’m also running up hills and loading packs with weights and getting used to that. I’m definitely not a land-based person so it’s going to be pretty tough, but well worth it.”
BE YOUR BEST SELF
LEISEL Jones’ positive approach to staying fit and healthy has led her to question the way women’s bodies are portrayed on social media.
“There are fitspo and thinspo images all over social media now and there are some really damaging messages out there,” she said.
“I’ve had my own body image issues like maybe a majority of women have and it’s really important to just strive be the best version of yourself rather than always comparing yourself to other people.
“The key to health is making sure you feel good.”