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As part of the This Girl Can Series, we've been catching up with some inspiring women who have found their passion through getting active.

Meet Penelope Settas, two-time British Champion in the ISSF 3 Positions small bore category for Rifle Shooting. Her story tells all on her newfound autonomy to choose how she exercises in ways that work for her after the believe at a young age that she was not 'sporty'. Find the right This Girl Can session for you by signing up to one of our events today.

Have you ever found barriers that have stopped you from getting active in the past?  

I wouldn’t say that there have ever been barriers that stopped me from getting active in the past, I am a stubborn person who is very fortunate to be healthy, but I do think that my attitude now is more conducive to getting active than it was in the past.

In regaining my liberty and autonomy to choose how I was active...I have found a love for exercise."

My primary and secondary education involved extensive compulsory sporting activities such as netball (not for short people) and cross country, which I never personally enjoyed. This left me with the subconscious idea that I was not ‘sporty’ and I dreaded Games lessons with grumpy coaches.

In regaining my liberty and autonomy to choose how I was active, and in finding and progressing within my sport, I found a love for exercise. I now choose to run and strength train, enjoying both.

What motivated you to get active and what activities you do?

The will to increase my stamina in long matches motivated me to pick up weightlifting. More recently I decided to take up running to add variety to my exercise regime, I have found it to be a great instant mood-booster.

Juggling exercise with other commitments can be tough. How do you fit exercise into your routine and balance it with other things happening in your life?

In term time it can be admittedly difficult to keep up with exercising whilst meeting the significant academic demands of my dual English and French law course. Law is also formidable in its requiring of significant amounts of work experience. On top of this are international and domestic sporting commitments. At particularly busy times it is easy to feel guilty about not having exercised enough, and as someone who is exceptionally hard on herself, at times I have to be reminded that I shouldn’t stretch myself too thin. The gym will always be there.

How does your chosen way of being active make you feel?

Lifting weights makes me feel strong. I always feel better after having been to the gym. Feeling strong then makes me feel proud of myself for my commitment to being active. Running gives me energy oxymoronically.

Lifting weights makes me feel strong...feeling strong makes me feel proud..."

Impact of coronavirus - the coronavirus pandemic had a big impact on the ways in which we were able to exercise. Can you provide us with a short summary of how or if you managed to stay active or how your exercise routine was disrupted during this period?

The COVID-19 pandemic was when I decided to start exercising regularly, particularly weightlifting, for my sport, and also to stay active physically and mentally in a draining and stressful time. I would follow videos on YouTube while my cat tried to stop me. When the gyms began opening back up, I started going there instead.

Getting to compete in my sport has had such a positive effect on me as a person, in ways that permeate other aspects of my life. It has fostered mental toughness and resilience, and the art of extreme and unwavering focus. These skills continue to serve me well in my university studies.