This Active Nation Day we awarded our very first ‘Lorna Jane True Believer’ award to the inspiring Zoe Featonby.
The ‘True Believer’ award recognises amazing people who achieve incredible things through their dedication, drive and unstoppable self-belief. They are the people who never, never, never give up! No matter what challenge they face, they back themselves and achieve what others may think is impossible.
Meet Zoe Featonby, the 2017 True Believer and Australian Ninja Warrior who proves that commitment and self-belief can take you anywhere.
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Spontaneous, determined, compassionate, competitive, energetic
Who inspires you and why?
The people closest to me are my biggest inspiration.
My Dad was an elite cyclist while working full time, and is the reason I have such an addictive personality to all things fitness.
My brother has been a professional triathlete and more recently, a professional cyclist competing across the globe in world class races. I have never met someone as dedicated as my brother, to become a better athlete. I really believe by watching him push his mind and body to the limits has helped me realise the potential of my own body.
My mother inspired my career choice and is the most kind and caring person on the planet. She will put anyone and everyone before herself and inspired me to work with children with disabilities, to assist them in increasing their independence and have the brightest future possible.
Finally my partner inspires me every day to challenge myself and continue pushing the boundaries. He works so hard in all aspects of his life and the encouragement and support I receive from him makes me feel like I can achieve anything.
What drives you every day to do what you do?
- To myself, to achieve the goals that I have set. Whether fitness or career related, I am committed to following through and never giving up until I have achieved them.
- To the children, their parents and adult clients I work with as an occupational therapist. I am committed to assisting them build their independence regardless of their disability or impairment. I work to ensure that they have the skills, equipment and services in place to make sure that they are living their life to the fullest.
- To my pole dancing students, to ensure they have the safest space to be body confident, learn new skills, form friendships and have a killer workout!
Motivation can be fleeting but I commit myself to every avenue of life and hold myself accountable.
What has been one of your biggest challenges and how did you push yourself to face it?
Having a spinal fusion as a teenager had its fair share of challenges, both physically and mentally. I was body conscious, and knew that I was only going to look more twisted and hunched should I ignore the problem. But on the other hand facing the problem would mean a procedure that could potentially leave me paralyzed.
I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by incredible family and friends and knew the life I wanted was one, free of pain. Following surgery I endured months of rehabilitation and testing times from taking my first steps post-surgery, being sponge bathed in bed, sitting on the sidelines watching my netball team win a grand final, missing out on my debutant ball (which at the time was a huge deal) and braced from arm pit to hip to ensure the surgery and bone grafting was successful.
I required so much resilience and inner strength which I believe has really helped me later in my life. Once I had the all clear from my surgeon I did everything I could to improve my physical abilities and ensure that I was in the best possible position to live a happy and healthy life (you only get one body and its crucial to look after it). I set myself small and achievable goals and as I gradually started ticking these off, I would challenge myself setting them bigger and better.
What is your favourite way to keep active?
Being a Ninja! The world is my playground and I love finding obstacles in everyday situations whether it be a bench seat at the lake, a swing at the park or a street sign there is always a way to turn it into a challenge and have some fun. We just need to open our eyes to the world around us.
What are your go to:
- Instagram account- @jessiegraffpwr, @demibagby , @lornajaneactive
- Book- Harry Potter (never too old for Harry Potter)
- Place- Trick Fitness Pole studio- I can dance my heart out and express my emotions in such a unique space
- Foods- Chocolate, I have the biggest sweet tooth! But my go to meal would be an omelette or roast vegetable and chicken salad
Zoe is the perfect example that with self believe and a never give up attitude anything really is possible. At the age of 15 she had a rib removed and her lung deflated to insert a titanium rod and five screws into her spine as a result of her severe scoliosis. She has endured hours of painful physiotherapy and rehabilitation over the years, but she hasn’t let any of this hold her back.
Most recently she was a contestant on Australian Ninja Warrior. Since the show aired she has been contacted by so many people who have praised her bravery and thanked her for being such a great role model for other girls faced with the same surgery.
Zoe is an Occupational Therapist by day, Pole Dance Instructor by night, Ninja Warrior and True Believer. Follow Zoe @zoefeatonby