Shearers shouldn’t need get fit New Year’s resolutions, right?
They are the epitome of fitness to many in rural industries – their job is physically demanding and many have the physique to match – but according to western Queensland fitness guru, Joy McClymont, shearers are like many men in the bush who need more stretching and cardio exercises in their lives.
Although they’re very active, Joy says their bodies are used to doing what they’ve always done.
“I was talking to the shearing contractor, Dave Grant, and we were questioning how you even measure fitness – is it someone who’s on their feet all day, or who rides a motorbike all day, or is it the one that runs around the sheepyards,” she said.
“All this counts but there are other elements that constitute being fit and healthy for life.
“For example the shearers were all telling me how they don't get their heart rate up much at all - in other words their body has become very efficient at what it's always done.
“Mostly they need to stretch, balance out their strength and do some short, fast cardio.”
To prove her point, Joy, describing herself as the cockie’s wife, took over the board in the lunch hour during a shearing at the family’s Longreach property, Dalkeith, and had the team huffing and puffing in seconds.
“All the guys were open to it and asking questions.
“I showed them how doing that only three times a day would have an effect.
“They did partner stretching and I think once they see the benefits it’ll be easier to maintain. Even yoga in the lunch break would be a huge benefit to them.”
Getting fit is often more in focus at the start of a new year and it’s something that Joy, with a clientele of over 250 in her Hub For Life group and more than 800 participating across Australia and New Zealand in her 30-day challenge, says is getting through to more and more men.
She described it as a cultural shift, seeing men sign up, perhaps to get fit for a triathlon, or to exercise alongside their wives.
“A lot more of them are becoming aware that exercise is what enables them to stay in the job they love, and it’s translating to the older generation too.”
Joy believes the increased focus on rural mental wellbeing is showing men the benefits of incorporating exercise into their lives as well.
“Rural Australia is so stressed, but they’ve got all these tools. As the message gets reiterated, they’re starting to believe it more.”
As for the shearing team, Joy said such a labour-intensive job was very taxing on their bodies, which was why it was even more important for them to recover well.
“All of them had muscle issues – I think there could be a bit more awareness about magnesium deficiency, which can inhibit their recovery,” she said. “But they just need to take time to walk and stretch.”
Out of the whole team, it was the oldest member, the classer, who was able to keep up with the spot sprints the longest.
Joy couldn’t say whether the men would continue to follow her advice. All she could hope was that the seeds she had planted would bear fruit.