Sweat app trainer and FIERCE programme founder Chontel Duncan takes us through the reality of becoming a fitness influencer on Instagram, and how to rise above haters.
After posting photos of her baby bump when she was pregnant with her first child on Instagram, fitness influencer and FIERCE programme founder, Chontel Duncan didn’t expect to be hit with a smorgasbord of negative comments.
The photo in question was one of Chontel and her friend — showcasing their baby bumps — with a caption that read: “Each woman carries different and this most certainly doesn’t mean one is doing something wrong or not healthy etc.”
The photo seemed harmless. After all, prior to engaging in physical activity during her pregnancy, the former Miss Universe did consult with a health professional and received clearance to remain active.
Having participated in a bevy of sports like rugby, volleyball and track and field growing up, Chontel had always been passionate about fitness. So, it made sense for her to continue exercising throughout her pregnancy.
Upon posting the photo though, she became the target of hurtful negative comments that questioned her capabilities as a first-time mum. Netizens even wondered if the fitness instructor’s passion was taking her to the extremes.
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Despite the overwhelming backlash, the Sweat app trainer didn’t hide from the public eye. Instead, she continued to take her fans along with her on her pregnancy journey, by sharing photos of pregnancy-safe workouts.
“When I started my Instagram, I always knew that I wanted to be real and authentic with my followers. As my following grew, so did the importance of authenticity. So sharing my journey — no matter what stage of life I am at, or what kind of day I am having — feels very natural to me,” explains the Australian influencer, who was in Singapore in April to lead her signature FIERCE workout at FitnessFest by AIA 2019.
One of the biggest takeaways from that episode was that she learned not to take any of the negative comments personally. Instead, she focused on surrounding herself with family and friends who had her best interests at heart. This lesson proved to be useful when Chontel was hit again with criticism when she opened up about the complications surrounding the birth of her first child.
Doctors had to perform an emergency cesarean section as Chontel’s tight abs had locked her son, Jeramiah, in too tightly. As a result of the complication, she was left with a much larger scar than usual.
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Still, she maintained positivity and spoke lovingly about her scar. “I am very proud of what mine means and for the beautiful gift I received through mine. They are memories of the day we [herself and other women] became mummies,” she posted in an Instagram photo of her scar.
“Body positivity can be challenging for many of us, and acceptance often comes after a journey of self-discovery,” Chontel shares. It’s this sort of positivity that keeps her fans coming back for more on social media.
When it comes to her Instagram account, Chontel — who trains from Monday to Friday — hopes that she’s able to help women develop a positive relationship with their body and learn about self-love and acceptance.
“Don’t pursue an aesthetic goal. Instead, focus on goals that add value and meaning to your life. Understanding your “why” is so important to long-term success, and will help you implement realistic, achievable goals to work towards,” she tells us when asked about what she’d tell women who aspire to be as fit as her.
While she takes a disciplinal approach to training, Chontel reveals that she does have days when she lacks the motivation to work out, too. When that happens, Chontel teams up with friends for a workout and turns on music to get her pumped up. “There’s no such thing as a bad workout — only the workout you didn’t do,” she adds.
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My clients often tell me that they find it hard to stay motivated during winter. Where I live (Brisbane Australia) it’s now Autumn 🍂 and the temperature is slowly dropping, hoodies are coming out & sleeping in is becoming too common. So how do you motivate yourself during these cooler seasons to ensure you don’t fall off the band wagon? A few areas I discipline myself in are; • I actually go to bed wearing my gym clothes or put them right next to my bed. When its a cold morning the last thing you feel like doing is getting changed. •I am diligent on my daily vitamins to avoid getting sick. I take Vitamin C, Olive leaf extract, fish oils & L-glutamine. I seem to become more prone to common colds during the cooler seasons. •I up my water intake to minimise snacking as I tend to snack more during the cooler seasons. •I prep everything the night before and even put it in my car (gym bag, computer, my kids school bags etc) so if I sleep in a little I don’t have much to do of a morning to get out the house. •I have a thermal mug with a scoop of instant coffee ready next to the jug to drink on my way to gym in the morning to warm my body up and wake up! Failing to prepare is preparing to FAIL! Don’t get caught out this winter. www.chontelduncan.com/app
With a holistic view towards food, Chontel, who is pescatarian, prefers not to label meals as “guilty pleasure” or “cheat meals”. Instead, she calls them “relaxed meals”. These meals usually consist of grazing boards that she and her family put together. These boards contain their favourite food items like cheese, hummus and even chocolate. “Spending time with family and friends is so important so I never jeopardise these opportunities because of how many relaxed meals it may result in. I always remember to enjoy myself and make healthier choices where I can.”
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