Business woman, physiotherapist and celebrity fitness trainer Christy Ann du Plessis truly believes in the healing power of moving your body. In a time when many of us need to hit the reset button and pay more attention to our health, we decided to catch up with the inspiring Mtunzini mother of three.
She a beautiful, petite blonde with a striking smile and an incredibly welcoming nature, and it’s hard not to warm to Christy Ann within minutes of meeting her. But there is a lot more to her than just a pretty face and a super fit body.
If she looks familiar, it may be because you’ve seen her on social media, where her popularity is growing on daily basis. Or perhaps you caught on her DSTV, where she was recently featured on SuperSport’s 5 Colour Fitness workout show.
Although she is a highly qualified physiotherapist and body conditioning trainer, Christy Ann’s true passion lies in helping people, women in particular, improve their mental health through physical exercise.
It’s something she has had first hand experience with in her own life, and it was her strong desire to share her knowledge that led to Christy Ann starting her blog and social media pages a few years ago.
A busy mom to her three sons, Arthur (4), Charles (3) and Michael (18 months), Christy Ann and her husband Peter moved to the small North Coast town of Mtunzini three years ago, after he took up the position of chief financial officer at the University of Zululand.
The couple were living in Bloemfontein before that, which is where Christy Ann owned and ran three highly successful physiotherapy practices. Christy Ann grew up on a farm in the Eastern Cape and met her husband while she was studying in Bloemfontein. They have been married for nearly 10 years.
It was a conscious decision, she says, to have their children close together. She admits, though that it has been challenging at times. Especially when they had three kids under the age of three, all still in nappies! “We are adventurous and love getting out and camping. We wanted to get the ‘nappies and bottles’ stage out of the way all at once. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but there have been moments where I’ve questioned our sanity,” she laughs.
Before she had children, Christy Ann spent some time training overseas, which is where she learned more about the mind-body connection. “I was specialising in women’s health and sports rehab, but I became fascinated with the concept of using physical activity to improve a person’s mental health.”
Having suffered with chronic fatigue while she was studying and then post-natal depression after the birth of her first son, Christy Ann says she saw first hand how she was able to heal her mind with movement and exercise in both instances.
During lockdown, Christy Ann decided to offer free online exercise classes and they grew quickly in popularity. She still offers online classes, on a subscription basis. She does a live class every day at 8am with a recording available for those who can’t join the live class.
“This has been a difficult year for everyone and after everything we have been through, a lot of people are suffering with chronic stress at the moment. I truly believe that moving your body (five times a week for half an hour a day, at moderate intensity) can and will make a massive change in your mental state and your life.”
When Christy Ann was approached by the Fitness Health Active (FHA) network and recruited to be part of Season 2 of The 5 Colour Fitness show, she was thrilled! FHA and sister company, the Gresham Group, hosted the programme on DSTV’s SuperSport, airing it for five weeks, giving viewers exercise routines and showcasing healthy eating options and recipes from qualified trainers from around the country. “It was an amazing experience being a part of the show. I was actually still breastfeeding during the filming, so I travelled to Johannesburg to film as a mom of three … and was surrounded by all these young trainers! But it was so much fun. I am so thankful to have fallen into this space where I am able to really realise my dreams.”
So, if you are feeling quite drained and emotionally spent, how do you get yourself into a fitness regime? “My biggest tip is to get yourself an accountability partner. It doesn’t have to be someone you run or do gym with, but just someone who is going to check in on you daily and make sure you are moving,” says Christy Ann. “The next thing I recommend is that you literally block out your exercise time in your diary. And make it a repeat activity. That way, if you do have to delete it and add something else, you are forced to really think about it and consider that you are, in fact, ‘deleting’ your health!” Changing your eating habits can also go a long way to improving your energy levels and mental wellness.
“Changing my eating habits really helped me unlock more energy and feel better about myself. I like think about what I put in my mouth and avoid refined foods. I try to eat food that is as close to its natural form as possible and I try to stick to the age-old ‘plate rule’ – so half your plate is fruit and vegetables (more vegetables), a quarter healthy protein and a quarter wholegrain carbs. I think if you keep it simple, you’re more likely to stick to it. I snack on nuts and raw veggies during the day and, if we spoil ourselves with a burger or a pizza, I try not to have the bun and only eat the top off the pizza! It’s not for everyone, but this way of eating works for me.”
Christy Ann says she has seen incredible changes in some of the women doing her online workouts, and has had some amazing testimonies. One lady has already lost 20kg’s!
“My biggest dream has always been to be a positive influence, health wise, for women and I feel so lucky to really be living that dream right now.”
Text: Leah Shone Photographs: Chris Allan Photo
Dress: Bianca Warren
Hair: Carlton Hair, Ballito Junction
Makeup: Kylie, madeup_bykylie
Location: Coco De Mer Boutique Hotel and Fiamma Grill