Chrys Stevenson – weighing 129kg in December 2012, now 64kg and running 5km
Local Chrys Stevenson has lost half her body weight, and credits the trainers and members of the community-owned, not-for-profit Mapleton Gym for much of her successful transformation. She shares her inspirational story with HT, to encourage local residents to embark on a fitness program of their own.
“When I first stepped into The Range Gym two years ago I was terrified,” says Mapleton resident, Chrys Stevenson.
“I’m a writer, not an athlete! All I knew about gyms was what I’d seen on The Biggest Loser. I thought someone might put me on a treadmill and make me run until I threw up!”
Instead, 56-year-old Chrys worked with gym instructor, Denis Condon, to design a gentle program tailored specifically to suit her fitness and ability.
“It was more like my unfitness and disability,” says Chrys. “I was size 26 and weighed nearly 130kg!
“I was having trouble putting on my socks and walking up and down stairs. I was in constant pain – everything hurt. I’d just had a lucky escape from endometrial cancer but my doctor warned my weight put me at high risk of it returning.
“It seemed an impossible task, but I had to do something! Joining a gym seemed a good place to start.
“I remember Denis set the treadmill at 4.5km per hour and I felt like I was running! I said, ‘I can’t walk that fast.’” says Chrys.
“Denis said, ‘OK, we’ll make it a bit slower.’ Then he suggested I walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I said, ‘I can’t walk for that long’!
“So, he said, ‘Well, let’s see how long you can walk for,’” Chrys smiles.
“Then, he got me chatting to the fellow on the next treadmill. It took my mind off what I was doing and before I knew it, Denis was grinning as he said, ’That’s 10 minutes! You did it!’
“He’s been conning me into doing more than I think I’m capable of ever since!”
Chrys coupled her gym workouts with a calorie-controlled diet and soon added walking and swimming to her weekly routine.
Within 18 months of joining The Range Community Gym, Chrys lost 65kg – half her original body weight.
“With so much weight to lose,” she says, “I knew I was in danger of ending up with loose, flabby skin. I needed low-impact , weight resistance exercise and I needed exercise that would shape, tone and strengthen my body.
“As the kilos started to drop it seemed the whole gym began to get excited about my weight loss. I received a huge amount of encouragement and inspiration from other members.”
Thanks to strong community support and local fundraising, the Mapleton Gym is fully equipped with a range of weight-lifting and workout machines to suit all fitness levels.
“We have a diverse membership,” says Chrys, “from young people interested in boxing and weightlifting, to older people and those with disabilities looking for more gentle exercise.”
Chrys started with a simple, 20 minute program that involved walking on a treadmill, some light weights and stepping. Gradually, she built up to a 90 minute program which involves walking faster and further, lifting heavier (but still not heavy) weights, and stretching and flexing her muscles.
“The key to success was persistence,” she insists. “The hardest part is turning up. I was never pushed to do more than I was comfortable with. In fact, to this day, I’ve never broken more than a light sweat working out.”
It wasn’t until she reached her goal weight, earlier this year, Chrys began running.
“I was reluctant at first,” she says, “but my trainer encouraged me to run short distances and, soon, I started enjoying it.”
Chrys recently completed two 5km park runs and plans to do more.
“It’s something I never thought I’d be capable of!” she says.
Chrys combined her exercise program with a low-calorie eating plan.
“You don’t need to cut out whole food groups or buy into expensive programs,” says Chrys, who works as an academic researcher and fact-checker.
“It’s simply a matter of burning more calories than you eat. You don’t need to revolutionise your diet – just eat a bit less and make wiser choices. You don’t have to give up the things you love, entirely.
“But, at some stage, you have to take responsibility for yourself and accept that every day can’t be a party.”
Chrys used a phone app to track her daily calorie intake and expenditure.
“You really do have to be mindful of what you’re putting into your mouth. The technology nowadays makes it simple to keep yourself honest.”
Inspired by her success, Chrys has posted positive stories about other members on the gym’s website: http://rangecommunitygym.com.au/
“We want local residents to know The Range Community Gym caters for people of all ages, sizes, fitness levels, abilities and disabilities. It’s very welcoming, and it really isn’t as scary as you think!”
The Range Gym is open from 6am-10am Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 4pm-7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Local residents are welcome to drop in for an obligation-free chat and tour of the gym.