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If necessity is the mother of invention, you're about to meet its inspiring big sister


The community-wide ban on attending gymnasiums didn’t stand a chance against Joy McClymont’s unbeatable sense of what’s possible, writes Michael Blucher

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OK. You’ll need to put your thinking cap on for this one.
A crowbar, a bale of hay, an engine spring, two large moon rocks, a chair and a truck tyre.

What have you got?

Congratulations to all those who correctly guessed gymnasium equipment.

And a bonus point for anybody who identified that the said items belonged to Joy McClymont, from Off The Track training in northwestern Queensland.

Joy is hardly your archetypal city-slicker gym junkie, with matching Lycra top and bottom, and impossibly expensive designer track shoes to set the legs a-pumpin’.

Where she lives, on a 27,000-hectare property, 90 minutes in a speeding four-wheel-drive northwest of Longreach, cardiovascular exercise is a lot less structured. Weight training in particular relies on her making use of anything she can lay her hands on. Hence the truck tyre and crowbar, etc etc.

The launch of her personal training business 12 years ago was driven by a combination of desperation and self-preservation.

The desperation came from the fact that she and her grazier husband Paul had been living in a drought for at least five years.
Joy realised she was never going to save the property by fencing 12 hours a day. Or becoming a miracle jillaroo who did amazing things, including making it rain.

She had to contribute in a more meaningful, “out of the box” sort of fashion. Which is also where the self-preservation chimed in.

Did I mention at the time she had four children under that age of five? Sorry – there was that too, (Shout out to all the mums out there looking after four kids under the age of five) #respect.

Throw in the challenge of remoteness (these days we call it social isolation) and the drought, and no money, and cattle they couldn’t feed, and we’ve just about covered off Joy McClymont’s sense of desperation.

“It was not a great time,” she says, in true understated bush fashion. “But we had a choice. We could toss it all in – give up or we could fight like hell. We chose the latter.

“I couldn’t be distracted by what was impossible. I had to focus on what was possible – use the skills I had and turn it into an income.

“I was fit, I was energetic, I was a good talker, and more than anything else, I needed to self-care, so I started conducting exercise classes “over the air” for women in similar circumstances.”

“Off The Track Training” was born.

Her initial “tools of trade”, beyond the random “gym equipment” lying around the property, amounted to not much more than a landline telephone and a fax machine. Perhaps a notebook to keep track of “clients”.

She built it, and they came.

At the nominated time, women dotted all over the bush would call in, and Joy would take them through their daily exercise class – 15 or 20 short, sharp minutes of physical exertion that worked wonders for the bodies but just as importantly the minds of socially isolated mums, looking after small children on drought-stricken properties.

During the classes, real life regularly intervened. Her youngest son, Charlie for instance, telling the conference call that he’d done “a big poo in his pants”. Or his sister Elke advising her mother (and all her clients) that she was STARVING and demanding a Vegemite sandwich. It all added to the experience.

There were also issues on the caller’s end. Joy remembers one of her clients forgetting to press the mute button, all while telling her household “MAKE YOUR OWN F*%#ING DINNER. I’M TRYING TO DO MY BLOODY EXERCISE CLASS!” The woman was horribly embarrassed, but to the others, she was a hero. She was yelling what they were probably thinking. Go girl – You tell ’em!

A decade on, with a little rain in the gauges out west, and her four children now in their early teens, Joy McCylmont’s business is now booming, with women from all over Queensland, even interstate logging in to get their daily injection of Joy vitality.

Now with specific programs and books and dietary advice, the business bears little resemblance to those chaotic, early years, but the principles and benefits remain the same – self-care, physical exertion, and a sense of togetherness.

Desperate people find new ways, smarter ways of doing things, and along the way, even making a quid.

Doesn’t that ring true in these troubled times?

As my forever on the ball, baldy accountant mate observed on his weekly webinar the other day: “Anybody who emerges from COVID-19, doing exactly what they were doing before the virus hit, has seriously wasted an opportunity”

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