Kayla, Kelsey, Cass And Chontel: Our 2022 Setbacks

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March 3, 2022

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With The Redo Challenge now underway (registrations are open now in the Sweat app if you haven’t joined already!), what better time than now to talk about the reality of a setback and how to come back from one.

Although our Sweat Trainers are all incredibly strong - both inside and out - it’s important to remember they are still human, and none of them are immune to struggles and setbacks of their own. 

Despite their high hopes and excitement for the Sweat Challenge this year, Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells, Chontel Duncan and Cass Olholm were all faced with unexpected obstacles that meant not being able to complete the challenge.

Kayla had to take a break when she tested positive for Covid-19, Kelsey underwent surgery, Chontel gave birth to twins, and Cass had both tonsillitis and Covid-19. To say the least, it’s been a rollercoaster. 

You know what though? Life happens, and from what we’ve heard, a lot of you have been in the exact same boat lately and 2022 hasn’t started with the bang you expected. 

We might not be able to control what happens to us, but we CAN control how we respond, so we asked Kayla, Kelsey, Chontel and Cass about their own experiences with fitness setbacks and tips on how to move forward feeling stronger. 

As Kelsey says, “’I’m a firm believer that when things don’t go to plan, it allows us room for growth and often times, opportunities and perspectives for the BETTER. As they say, a setback is itself an opportunity for a COMEBACK.”

It’s ok to not feel your best

The first thing to know is that setbacks happen to all of us and it’s normal for them to dampen your spirits. 

“I definitely didn’t feel in my zone at all, which threw me off in every other aspect of my life. If I’m unable to train, it makes me feel less confident in everything else I do,” says Kayla. 

“Mostly I felt sad, upset, frustrated and disappointed that I was unable to do the Sweat Challenge with everybody else. It was like I was letting everyone down. I didn’t want to share too much of my experience because I was aware that so many people were not in the same position as me, but in hindsight I feel like I should have shared more, as so many people were going through the same thing.”

Not being able to participate in the Sweat Challenge was tough for Chontel in more ways than one as well. “It was so easy to feel down about missing out, but instead I tried to channel my inner warrior and use that energy in areas I could control.” 

“I was also hit hard with an early delivery at 31 weeks for the twins, left the hospital without my babies and spent every day for 37 days traveling to the hospital to see the twins while they were in the Intensive Special Care Nursery.”

Kelsey notes that it’s important to never feel ashamed of how you feel or what you’re going through. “Yes, I’m positive, but choosing a positive perspective does not mean you’re immune to struggling and feeling ALL the things. Yes, I am so grateful, but being grateful includes embracing the tough emotions and flowing through them, and in fact I am MOST grateful because they teach me so much.”

Whatever it is you’ve been through (or are still in the thick of), take the pressure off yourself to feel at your best. You wouldn’t expect your best friend to be happy and thriving every single day, so why put that expectation on yourself? Think about the love and support you would offer to a loved one going through a tough time, and try to offer yourself the same care.

Kayla, Kelsey, Cass And Chontel: Our 2022 Setbacks - Picture Panel 2 - Desktop

It’s ok to rest

Kayla’s first tip for any time you’re feeling unwell or going through a setback is to make sure you get the rest your body needs. 

“Physically, I was unable to do most exercises I would usually do,” she says about her experience with Covid. “Warmup exercises felt like workouts and I was tired, dizzy and constantly feeling run down. Every hour of the day felt like bedtime.” 

“Above all, my biggest tip is to focus on sleep and recovery - minimum 6-8 hours of sleep per night if you can. This doesn’t mean 6-8 hours in bed, it means sleep!”

Cass was so ready to have a clear routine after coming back from an injury and lots of travel at the end of last year. 

“I had a strong start to the Sweat Challenge and then two workouts into the second week, I was out due to tonsillitis. I was back into training by Week 4, then in Week 5 I got Covid and took more time to recover. Unforeseen setbacks are so frustrating and it’s important to acknowledge that.”

“If you’re returning to training following an injury or illness, it is really important to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. Once you start training again, you want every step you take to be a step forwards, not backwards.”

It’s ok to comeback slowly

No matter what type of setback you have faced, be gentle with your body and mind and take things at your own pace. While Kelsey recovers from surgery in a hard cast, she is ready to make any exercise modifications she needs to, as well as slowing down the pace and lifting lighter weights.

“There’s a lot I can’t do yet —  that’s ok. I am modifying everything —  that’s ok. I am not able to lift as much weight as I’m used to —  that’s ok. I fatigue very easily and quickly —  that’s ok. I’ve already lost some strength —  that’s ok,” she says.

“Remember, we exercise to care for ourselves and our HEALTH. The past couple of months I have traded my workouts for REST and recovery and THAT IS OK.”

For Kayla, she felt like her lungs were constantly burning and she struggled to breathe without pain. “At one point I was worried I had severely damaged my right lung and I didn’t think I would be able to breathe properly again.” 

“If you are like me and struggle to rest in bed all day, then you could start slowly by writing down a list of tasks that don’t require a lot of energy so you feel like you’re still doing something. This could be things like emails, laundry or reorganising your space,” Kayla says. 

“Focus on hydration, recovery and eating a healthy balanced diet, vitamin supplements if you need (such as Zinc and Echinacea) and if you’re willing and able, I would recommend going for light walks and fresh air too.”

“I had to remind myself that healing physically was vital for a successful 2022,” adds Chontel. “I worked on my lack of flexibility with a stretching routine, and focused on good nutrition and hydration.” 

When she returned to her first fitness photoshoot, Chontel fractured her foot, adding extra recovery time and meaning she is now making modifications while in a moonboot. “Then a few days later, both babies stopped breathing and we spent five days in hospital. I have to take ownership of my hardship and continue to focus on areas I DO have control over. The Redo Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time for me.” 

Sweat is about so much more than your workouts

Feel your best - inside AND out

Know you are supported every step of the way

Whether you’re raring to go after a setback or are feeling like you’re only ready to dip your toe in, it helps to focus on the things you can control, avoid comparing yourself to other people, and know you have your Sweat Trainer and the whole Sweat Community right here with you. 

“Know that you deserve to prioritise and show up for yourself - it’s a form of self-love,” Cass says. 

What are your tips for returning to fitness after a setback? Let us know in the comments! 

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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