What is the one recurring theme that athletes talk about when discussing the benefits of sports? Not medals, money, or fame, but the person they became through their training. It is true that sports teach discipline and resilience, but more importantly, it prepares you to lose and know your limits.
Alex Nacfur, Head of Martial Arts at FitRepublik, fought through 20 years worth of injuries before finally becoming Jiu Jitsu World Champion in 2019. “What I had developed from the age of nine was the will of a fighter; to confront any challenge, even my own genetics.” Alex spends every day at FitRepublik with junior athletes aged 5-14, sharing his insight and habits of mind with them.
Every coach at FitRepublik focuses on building a junior athletes’ characteristics as much as their sporting skills. Resilience, fortitude, confidence, focus, and teamwork are not just qualities that help you thrive in sports – they help you thrive in life.
“We don’t just teach Martial Arts; we teach discipline, respect, control – on and off the mat,” says Eloise Barber, Head of the Podium at FitRepublik. “We don’t just teach Gymnastics, we teach focus, control and self-awareness. Our young CrossFitters learn to be comfortable outside of their comfort zone. And our swimmers learn to keep going through adversity, to persevere in the face of discomfort, well beyond the pool.”
This quality would have served her well when she missed out on the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, her home country, by 0.1 seconds. Eloise continues, “My lifelong dream was crushed, but within a few days I had moved on. I’ve had a rewarding life since swimming. But it was swimming that empowered me to get into sports.”
Sarah Mercer, Head of Gymnastics, was told at the age of 16 by her doctor that she would never compete again. “Two years later, I led the Great Britain gymnastics team to the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. I made the decision that day to never take ‘no’ for an answer.” Like her colleagues, Sarah attributes her mentality to her sport. “Gymnastics had shown me how to make a habit out of motivation and focus. And it’s a pleasure to pass that on.”
Sports also teach mutual respect – bonding through shared endeavour. “Our young students learn to encourage each other. We’re a community here,” says Eloise, proudly. ‘Sports introduces you to life’s real challengers.”
“The most important moment of my career was when I lost a game of Jenga … to a blind athlete,” agrees Kevin Paul, Head of Aquatics at FitRepublik. “When he beat me using touch alone, I realised that I, too, could do anything.” Kevin went on to win Paralympic Gold in the pool – before teaching swimming at FitRepublik.