Variety is the key to keeping Jenny motivated to achieve her goals

The saying ‘variety is the spice of life’ means variety makes life more interesting, which was certainly the case for participant Jenny, who was motivated by a variety of exercise locations. In fact, getting out and about kickstarted a chain of benefits including improved confidence, self-esteem, fitness and social connectivity – and it all started with her Better Rehab exercise physiologist Travis King.

For participant Jenny, who has intellectual disability, a lack of motivation wasn’t the only thing holding her back from being more active and getting out and about in her community.

“Jenny didn’t feel motivated to participate in healthy lifestyle routines, and her anxiety and depression symptoms made it difficult to make meaningful connections and reduced her community access,” explains Inglewood-based exercise physiologist Travis King.

Like all Better Rehab’s exercise physiologists (EPs), Travis set about creating a personalised program that would support Jenny to achieve her goals, which were to

  1. Increase her physical activity through home-based exercises three days a week;
  2. participate in a community-based activity once a week;
  3. and maintain her mental wellbeing.

Small steps to leaps and bounds

To support Jenny to achieve her first goal, Travis devised an exercise program she could do in the comfort of her home. He also created a calendar to help her make time for her thrice weekly exercise sessions and monitored her progress throughout. With this tailored support, Jenny quickly smashed this goal. “Jenny has since had two program updates due to her improved fitness,” says Travis.

To help Jenny achieve her second goal to participate in a community-based activity each week, Travis took her exercise sessions out into the community – a move he hoped would be the key to keeping her motivated.

“To first build a good relationship with Jenny, I started her on intensive therapy sessions at our Inglewood clinic. Then once we’d developed a good rapport and Jenny’s confidence had improved, we moved her exercise sessions out into the community. Every two to four weeks, Jenny would exercise in a different location to keep her motivation high. We’ve been to her local gym and Lake Monger, walked around her suburb and climbed Jacob’s Ladder at Kings Park,” explains Travis.

Location variety turned out to be an effective motivator, boosted by Jenny’s outstanding efforts and dedication to challenging herself.

Confidence climbed with every step

“Jenny is now completing these activities with her support workers between her regular exercise physiology sessions and has completed Jacob’s Ladder twice – a great achievement as she has only been able to finish it once before. This shows an improvement in her fitness and confidence,” says Travis. Jacob’s Ladder in Perth’s King’s Park is a popular and scenic spot to exercise but its steep incline and 242 steps make it a challenging climb, even for the fit.

“Jenny loves her EP appointments, which provided her with the motivation and confidence to improve her healthy lifestyle and have fun with her exercise. Her mental wellbeing has now improved along with her confidence and self-esteem,” says Travis, who continues to monitor her mental wellbeing every few months.

And he continues to be impressed by her progress and new-found adventurous spirit. “It took a few months to build a rapport and trust with her, but she has since challenged herself in many ways by trying all different types of exercise activities.

“Jenny is going great physically and mentally and is excited to continue achieving her goals. She is super lovely and has the biggest smile and loud laugh! And not only do we have a great rapport, but she now calls me her friend.”

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