Corinne Austin | Personal Training

A Kinder Approach to Fitness

As a woman, our biology today is exactly what it was 300 or 3000 years ago.  It has not changed.  When we are born we are still, to this very day, constructed with the same biological, physiological, and biochemical elements that we were way back yonder.


The only thing that’s changing is the environment in which we are now thriving in – although, for many of us, the word surviving is probably somewhat more apt.


Women were designed and destined to be the home-maker, the family-maker, and the change-maker.  That was always a given.  We are the lovers of the family, not the fighters.  Our minds were made to exude and deliver compassion, kindness and consideration, and our bodies were created to resonate these very emotional elements.  Like men, we contain the musculoskeletal foundations to be able to carry out physical duties, including some activities that demand great stamina and prowess – as witnessed in childbirth.  However, we weren’t created to do any activity to the extent of the male – who was designed to use his full power, strength and speed to compete for food, and go head to head in tribal wars to keep his family and community safe.


The male was designed to fight to the bitter end, no matter how exhausted he become in the process.  Women, on the other hand, are a different story.  A woman’s biochemical configuration is somewhat different to the male species, and our body doesn’t respond positively to any prolonged duration of high intensity or high volume activity.  For many moons we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the more and harder we exercise the healthier we’ll be.  Alas, this very notion is at the heart of the epidemic we find ourselves in – one where women now have more and more stress coming at them (via busy lives, crazy work loads, mental/emotional struggles, financial worries, relationship troubles etc), feel like they need to exercise more and harder to balance it all out, yet are less healthy and witness the pounds steadily creeping on despite their super focussed exercise efforts.


Something just isn’t adding up here!  The problem stems from overloading our Sympathetic Nervous System (which drives our fight or flight response) that is called to action upon any sign of stress, regardless of where that stress has come from – the body doesn’t differentiate one form of stress from another.  Exercise itself is a stress – a good one when it’s in the right type and quanity – and we’ve been conditioned to think that the more we do, and the harder we do it, the healthier we’ll be.


This is not the case, and this is where our mindset needs to change.  I can speak from experience too; when I was in the middle of training for a charity boxing match 18 or so months ago I was following an extraordinarily intense programme, was training to exhaustion 5-6 times a week, was at my fittest ever – yet internally I was very unwell.  Many of my body’s crucial functions were functioning at a significantly suboptimal level, and when my health hit rock bottom I knew something needed to change.  Now, just over 18 months later, I have completely changed the way I approach exercise.  I walk regularly, enjoy some natural bodyweight activity, practice my own form of yoga, and breathing with presence is a priority.   I am now the healthiest I have possibly ever been, I am the leanest I’ve been since teenage years, and my critical bodily functions are now well within the optimal functional range – a long way from where they were before.


What do I conclude from all this?  Women need to treat their bodies with greater kindness – our exercise regimes need to include more mind-body activity and less of the high exertion, high intensity, high power stuff.  We need to move with purpose, but not to exhaustion.  We need to remind ourselves that exhibiting extreme levels of exertion during exercise may make us feel heroic and invincible, but we may internally be doing the opposite of what we ideally wish to be.


We need to build our health from the inside out.  We need to put aesthetics and weight loss goals aside, gift our body with kindness, and nurture it’s innate desire to make us healthy.  For if we feed it the right ingredients, it’ll do just that with ease.  Weight loss and improved health will be a natural by-product of optimising health in your body.  If you feel like you’re working harder than ever, but not getting the results you long for, it’s time to sit back, reflect, and generalise what may need changing.


Because the body is one clever machine, and it has many ways of indicating to you that something needs to change.  We just need to listen, and treat it with kindness.


  • Corinne Austin
  • Movement Motivator