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Up to the challenge

This is an extremely difficult time for our entire community and we’re all going to need to do everything we can to support each other. Being there for our family and friends has never been as important.

With public health and safety the top priority, trying to maintain an exercise routine will be challenging. For many of us, staying active at home can be tough. Exercising in tight spaces, without gym equipment and even with kids and pets running around can seem daunting. We know the value of exercise and need to try our best to keep active – and that can look different for everybody.

To help out, we’ll be sharing content that’s tailored especially for our veteran community on our VSA Facebook page and VSA Instagram account.

Although we’re all physically separated from our usual networks, it’s a great time to stay connected online. We’ll be posting challenges and sharing exercise tips, and we’d love you to join in by tagging #vsamovement and sharing your challenge attempts with us! We can’t wait to share the creative ways that veterans and their families from around Australia are staying active!

Check out our introductory video on Facebook or Instagram

Our veteran community is also very lucky that our amazing Australian Invictus team captains – Sarah Petchell and Shane Bramley – have taken the time to share some of their thoughts on staying motivated and active during tough periods.

Earlier this month the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 was postponed until 2021. That was tough news for our Australian team of 32 veterans, who have together been building towards competing in mid-May. However it’s a challenge that Sarah, Shane and the team are already meeting head on and using to get stronger.

Keeping perspective during challenging times


“I often find that people are far more resilient than they give themselves credit for,” says Shane. “Although we try to avoid situations that cause distress, inevitably these moments are the ones we can reflect on to remind ourselves that we are stronger than we think.”


“This is a tough time,” says Sarah. “We were on the trajectory to the Invictus Games, training ramping up, you could almost see the starting line but then the world went haywire. I suppose there is the shock of it all initially but then we as a team started getting on the socials and encouraging one another. Just as that kicked off the ground, our gym access is gone. This is truly the time when real character is forged and tested.”

Photo Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Staying motivated and positive


“Maintaining social interactions in the wake of social distancing means lots of group chats that aren’t about training but rather about laughs, sharing of stressors and maybe asking around for food ideas, Netflix recommendations and where best to find toilet paper,” says Sarah. “Awareness of how you store stress in your body and how the stress of others also impacts you is super important. Taking time for mindful moments and family phone catch ups help to bring a little perspective back to the mix.”


“I believe one of the keys to staying positive first requires acknowledgement of what’s happening around us and being mindful of the role we play in our own futures,” says Shane. “I try to revert back to what things I did last time an obstacle came along. What did I do to overcome it? Was it something I said or was it an action I took? Did I reach out to others or did someone reach in to help? No matter what your approach looks like you can always ask yourself: what can I do, who can I talk too and what works for me?”

Finding ways to stay active at home


“My advice is: don’t over complicate it,” says Shane. “When we’re in doubt over what activities we should be doing there can be a tendency to either avoid starting for fear of not doing it right and wasting our time or we become frustrated and lose focus. I think this is a great opportunity to use our imaginations and try something different; I’ve seen people incorporating their children, pets and furniture among other things into their workouts.”


“I would suggest seeing if a gym has a hire program going, so you can have gym gear in your home,” says Sarah. “If that’s not possible, we can look around the home for objects to workout with or thinking of movement drills to do that shape a certain sporting skill and lastly working with our bodies only. Keeping a list/record of training is also super important for accountability as well as seeing your own success.”

Reaching out for support


“Be proactive,” says Sarah. “Chances are if you’re thinking it or feeling it so too is someone else. We have been reaching out to people in the team we are closest to and checking in, for ourselves and for those others. The buddy system is a great way to get informal support.”


“I find that we are always stronger when we work together,” says Shane. “Not everyone’s circumstances are the same, so it makes sense that we all have different support mechanisms; friends, family, teammates or allied health professionals, they’re all good options, it’s just what works best for you.”


Especially during these difficult times, please make sure you reach out to the following organisations if you or someone you know is in need of mental health support: Open Arms (1800 011 046), Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) and Lifeline (13 11 14).