Not many people reach the success of Danielle Jordan-Taft, an international athlete for Jamaica in rugby sevens, and an ex-England netballer.
Her devotion to movement and competitive nature has seen her rise through the ranks for teams around the world. Below, she shares her insights from a life of movement with friends, family, and competing in Myzone physical activity challenges.
A family of physical activity fans
From a young age, I was always really competitive with my older brother. Anything he did, I had to do better. My dad's a bit of a disciplinarian – he did gymnastics and was into sport – so he wanted to quickly get us into a sport and find out what we were best at. It just went from there.
I guess my inspiration right now is my son. I realise how important it is to be a good mother and obviously you're a role model for your kids. I think you don't realise that ’till you start seeing that they mimic a lot of what you do.
I didn't think I'd be a pushy mum, but I definitely am. He is very, very good at sport and I obviously identified that athleticism in him quite early, so I was a little bit pushy. I'm actually quite glad I was, because he is so much better than me at rugby and sports in general.
It's wonderful to see that we've got that connection. It's what we talk about weekends, we spend it all together, because I'm either with him at his sport or he's with me at mine, and I absolutely love it.
He's my best friend, so that's my inspiration right now. That’s why I keep pushing, I guess, because I know that he's watching and I want to inspire him to be the best he can be as an athlete; to not give up when the going gets tough.
That desire to be the best
I love any sport. I played netball, football, a bit of rugby, a bit of tennis, so literally anything. But, right now, if I had a choice, netball or rugby sevens… As long as I'm playing one of those then I'm happy.
I'm ridiculously competitive. Whether that's a negative or not, I don't know. I think it's positive. But I never stop striving to want to be the best at what I am. So, if that's in netball, I have to be the best player out there.
If I meet my match and someone's better, then I'll go away and do the homework, which means I have to go to the gym or I have to do those workouts that are really uncomfortable or I probably don't want to get up and do. And, yeah, I think it just stems from that competitive edge.
I just want to keep being the best for as long as I can until age takes over, I guess.
Healthy competition through heart rate training
As an athlete, Myzone is absolutely brilliant. It holds me accountable. I think what's most important is consistency, because it's so easy to have a rest or have a break. Then you turn up to a game and you see that your performance has dropped so much.
My second favourite Myzone thing is the competitions. If I can compete with people that I see as elite in the weightlifting arena, or elite runners, or triathletes… If I feel like I can compete with them and do better than them and score more Myzone Effort Points (MEPs), it makes me feel more elite as well.
It's just that variety that it gives and it's just achieving again, achieving those results; getting the most MEPs, and that just keeps me motivated.
Most important advice: Don’t give up
My advice for someone just starting out in fitness would be: don't give up. When people look really motivated and go to the gym consistently, we make it look easy, I think. But actually, I still wake up and dread the alarm clock going off. I dread having to go out in the cold, and travel to the gym, and get that workout done. And it hurts, it really does.
Even though we make it look like it doesn't, the soreness is still there. So, I would just say it's all about consistency. Once you get going, you get into a rhythm, it all starts to get a little bit easier. And then when you start to see the results, it becomes rewarding as well. Just keep going.
Playing netball for England
Playing for England in netball was a massive achievement. I never wanted it to end, but then I had an injury. But I did think, you know what, I've ticked a box and I think I can be a grandma and preach about how good I was at that.
But then I've been ridiculously lucky and now made these other squads in rugby.
That competitive edge always makes me want to go higher and higher.
Exercise, energy, and enjoyment
Exercise, for me, gives me energy, makes me feel amazing. I know that naturally it gives you positive endorphins or whatever, but it definitely works for me.
If I exercise, I'm always happier and feel better about myself. And you can just tick all those boxes. I think it's just dangerous at times, because sometimes, if I don't train, then I'm worried that I'm not training enough.
It's kind of like making sure you've got some structure to that. And I guess you focus on the positives – that one day off is not going to kill you. It's probably a really good thing.
Mental health-wise, it makes me happy and the focus is definitely there. I set goals and have targets every week – daily and monthly as well. That, personally, keeps me driven and keeps me consistent.
Just as a final thought… One of my biggest aspirations is to be the face of Myzone, because I was there from the beginning, so we can make that happen?
Follow more of Danielle's journey on her Instagram page.
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