Spending time with family is high on everyone’s priority list, especially at this time of year with Mother’s Day on the calendar. For one local family, a conscious effort to make exercising a family affair sees them in the pool – and café – regularly. “Doing physical activities together connects you on a different level,” says Angela Jolly. “Exercise makes you feels great so if you can schedule it in, then it’s the perfect way of regularly hanging out.”
Angela and her sister, Lisa McCarthy, are keen lap swimmers at the National Aquatic Centre along with their mother, Trish Jolly. The trio are often found doing their individual workouts in the pool, before moving through for a coffee or smoothie in the café. While they all have their personal motivations for exercising and keeping healthy, it has become a priority to come to AUT Millennium together, and the accountability keeps them honest. “Especially on those cold and wet winter days, when the last thing you feel like is a swim,” says Lisa. “And a little rivalry in the pool helps keep the laps up!”
Physical activity has always played a big part in the family’s life, playing individual and team sports from a young age, attending gyms, water sports, skiing and snowboarding and generally enjoying the outdoors. Family hikes are on the agenda also, with Trish and Angela having completed the Queen Charlotte Track. Angela finds that the more activities you do together, the more you want to do. “Physical activities are addictive,” she says. “The upside is that you want to hang out more often, and that’s pretty awesome!”
This love of sport and exercise has flowed into the third generation of the family, with Lisa’s son Benji having attended the AUT Millennium Swim School and Holiday Programme. A keen footballer, Benji is now part of the Athlete Development Academy, training in the early mornings in the Sports Hall. “He wanted to work on his strength and conditioning training to support his sport,” says Lisa. “He enjoys working with other motivated young athletes and the supportive AD coaches on sport-specific goals. He loves the vibe of AUT Millennium early in the morning, and regularly spotting professional athletes inspires him to work harder.” Benji won the MVP award at last year’s 13th Grade national football tournament at Western Springs, and is aiming to make the national Under 17 side within the next few years.
Angela says AUT Millennium’s unique environment adds to the experience of working out. “The facility feels more like a destination than just a place to exercise,” she shares. “The staff are super nice, and I love how clean the pool feels, it is such a pleasure to swim in.” The ability of the National Aquatic Centre to cater to all levels of swimmers is something Trish has found beneficial, after taking up swimming at age 70. “I took a few swimming lessons two and half years ago, and started swimming lengths in the 25m pool,” she recalls. “I progressed through to the 50m pool and can now swim 1km. I’m about to start Deep Water Running as well.”
The ladies encourage other families to put time aside to get together and get moving. “Enjoying the fresh air, switching off the devices, and bringing together fun, bonding time and exercise is the best!” says Lisa. Trish finds motivation in joining her daughters in the water. “Working out as a family encourages the older members to keep active, and it sets a pattern for the younger ones to take into their adult lives,” she advises. “Sharing in fun activities keeps families close.”