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Meet Felicity Galvez: Elite sportswoman, mother, entrepreneur and advocate for alcohol-free pregnancies

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Felicity Galvez OAM, owner of the Canberra gym, Galvanized Fitness in Watson, knows a thing or two about beating challenges.

Representing Australia in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, she won gold medals in 2008 in both the 4x100m medley relay and 4x200m freestyle relay swimming events.

Felicity also broke both the short course 50-metre and100-metre butterfly world records in 2008, breaking the 100m butterfly record again in 2009.

“Funnily enough, I didn’t start swimming at a very young age,” she says. “I lived in Spain until I was 11 years old, and swimming isn’t a very big sport over there. After we moved to Australia, my sister was sent to swimming lessons because she had asthma. I came along too and fell in love with being in the water—so I always say, my sport found me! I loved any sport and would have a go at anything. But the water was my happy place.”

After retiring at her peak in 2010, Felicity embarked on two new challenges—becoming a mum to two girls (now aged 8 and 5) and opening her own bespoke fitness studio.

But the transition from high-level training to embracing motherhood wasn’t without its challenges.

“I had put on some weight after having my daughters, and after I achieved getting back into shape, I thought how great it would be to help other people do the same thing.

“That’s what drove me to open my own fitness studio.”

Changing direction from the life of an athlete to a mother and businesswoman taught Felicity some valuable lessons.

“I think when you’re an athlete, in some ways it’s quite a selfish existence.

“It’s all about you, and about being better each day than you were the day before.

“Then when you become a mother, NOTHING is about you, it’s all about giving to the kids and helping them grow up.

“I realised I needed to give to myself, too, to feel happier and fitter and stronger.”

The mindset that Felicity learned as an Olympian helped her overcome life hurdles and she wanted to create a business around sharing that with others.

“In my gym, I create a sense of community. You are not just showing up for yourself, but showing up for the others too.

“Everyone’s got a different story and journey and they need to be supported individually. I want them to wake up and get excited to come train with me.”

Felicity has many clients who are pregnant or trying to conceive, and she makes sure their needs are met.

“For first-time mums, being pregnant can be tough because sometimes they are the first of their friends to have a baby.

“It’s a time when you can feel alone—and at the beginning you feel like you can’t tell anyone,” she says.

“This can mean you’re feeling rotten, but you act normal and then feel like you are living a big lie. But with the community that I’ve got in my gym, newly pregnant mums-to-be know I’ll keep their secret if they need me to.

“I keep an eye on them and give them a quiet signal if I feel that what we’re doing could be too much for them at that time. It’s about knowing that someone’s got your back.”

Felicity and her family.

Many people who have trained with Felicity through their pregnancies have told her they have never felt better through their pregnancy and have had easier births and post-partum experiences as a result.

Felicity signed Galvanized Fitness up as one of the first Pregnant Pause Community Heroes because to her “It was a no-brainer, a perfect fit for me and what we’re doing at the gym.”

Supported by the ACT Government under Health Promotion Grants Program, Pregnant Pause is a campaign that raises awareness that there is no safe amount, no safe time and no so safe type of alcohol during pregnancy.

And that when it comes to supporting women to have alcohol-free pregnancies, we all have a role to play in providing a clear and consistent message.

By signing up as Community Heroes, local businesses like Galvanized Fitness can be part of the community creating supportive environments for mums-to-be going alcohol-free for their little bub-to-be.

Local businesses and organisations can link into a network of like-minded organisations and 7000+ followers on social media and help support Canberra women by providing a network which provides a consistent message and supports the current alcohol and pregnancy guidelines.

“It’s the same principle that I practice in my training sessions—support without judgement,” she says.

“We form a community around mums-to-be. I keep the beautiful posters up at the gym and share the messages and information on social media.”

What advice would she give mums-to-be?

“Sometimes you want distractions when you’re so tired and sick—even just a walk and a coffee,” she said.

“It’s important to have a few close friends who you can check in with whenever you need to—quality is more important than quantity.

“That’s especially important with COVID—some of the women I know who’ve been pregnant this year have felt extra isolated.”

If your business would like to become a Pregnant Pause Community Hero and help mums-to-be go alcohol-free, go to www.pregnantpause.com.au to sign up.

Pregnant Pause is an initiative of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and funded by the ACT Government under the ACT Health Promotion Grants Program.

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