Strength runs in Bethany Robinson’s family.
“My mom was quite like a strong figure. She was always carrying hay bales and stuff. She was a really strong role model as a female,” Robinson says, explaining where her appreciation for strength came from.
But strength was not the only thing she and her mom shared.
Robinson’s mom, Suzy Davenport, says, “All my life I’ve always struggled with my weight and I’ve always been on a diet because that’s the way I’ve dealt with that sort of mental health issue of my own really. And my mom was the same.”
Robinson developed a similar struggle, becoming self-conscious about her tall stature and weight in secondary school and later developing body dysmorphia.
“Her self-esteem was just consistently being knocked by the fact she felt uncomfortable and she felt quite self-conscious,” Davenport says of her daughter.
By the time Robinson reached college, she had given up on her health and well-being. She recalls thinking, “Well, I’m fat anyway, so what’s a bit more fat?”
Her mental health began to swiftly deteriorate. She found herself in an emotionally abusive relationship that turned physically abusive as well. She had ideations of suicide, at one point contemplating throwing herself in front of a train.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed on heavy medication. While she was seeking alternative treatments, her doctor recommended lifestyle changes such as sleeping seven to nine hours each night, exercising, and eating well.
Her sister, Ellie, built a home gym and started encouraging her to lift weights. Within the first three weeks, she was deadlifting 90 kg (198 lb.), and she hit 150 kilos (330 lb.) within a few months.
Duchy CrossFit, the first CrossFit gym in her area, opened six months into her weightlifting journey, and suddenly she was being asked to do more than squat and deadlift.
Duchy’s owner, David Konefal, pushed her — literally pushed her — on her first mile run around the block. Despite the challenge, or maybe because of it, Robinson kept coming back, drawn to the adrenaline rush she would feel during the workouts. Now, Konefal says she is a competitive athlete. “She’s very good now,” he says.
With new skills came newfound confidence for Robinson. “There’s just such a positive community in CrossFit around women being strong,” she says. “I found belief in my body through strength training and through weightlifting and obviously CrossFit.”