My name is Samantha Stander and I am currently studying medicine at the University of Stellenbosch. To most people I might seem like a normal 23 year old, but I was born with a severe congenital abnormality known as Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips (DDH). My parents were told that I would never walk, but on the 23rd of December 1994 I took my first steps and this is where I assume a fire flared inside of me that would not settle until I had defeated the odds.
My DDH meant that I would not participate in any sporting activities until my bones had reached full maturity around the age of 16, and even then doing simple tasks such as walking from point A to B or even climbing stairs would become a painful task. I fell in love with fitness in 2014 when a look into the mirror made me realise that first year syndrome was real, but it wasn’t until January 2015 that I started taking it seriously and without hesitation signed up for my first 5k race which would be the same race that later sparked my road and trail running addiction. I set myself a big challenge of completing 15 races that same year and once I achieved that with a lot of help from my friends, I was challenged by Isna Venter to complete 30 races in 2016. Instead of only being challenged to 30 races, I decided to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and start trying new things which included obstacle course racing, mountain biking, aquathlon and triathlons. My love for fitness grew as I participated in each event, pushing my body to new limits, experiencing new obstacles and conquering them one step at a time.
With each race I continually carried a message with me that “the only true disability in life is a bad attitude” to try to inspire others, both abled and differently abled, that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. My fitness mottos are never settle, never quit and never give up and that the only true disability in life is a bad attitude, because if I had let the label “disabled” or “differently abled” define who and what I am, I would not have been the same person that I am today. I have been blessed to have been continually supported throughout my fitness journey and for that I am very thankful, because each person on my journey has helped mould and shape who and what I am.
I was first introduced to Bright Weights during the final preparations for The Grind’s first event in April 2016 and fell in love with their products on display at the Sweat Factory. I huffed and puffed through my first OCR, but I was welcomed home by both Jannie and Jenna Wessels of Bright Weights who showed me their equipment for both keeping fit and diving. After losing my watch in the Hillcrest quarry, Jannie and Jenna along with a few other divers tried their best to find it, showing how passionate they are about everything they do. During the finals of The Grind’s Indoor Sprint Obstacle Course Race where I had the privilege of cheering on the OCR Elites such as Dominique D’Oliveira, Jay Jay Deysel as well as my friend and cycling partner Jano Venter, I was able to witness first-hand the difference training with Bright Weights’ cross-trainer made. This year I have the special privilege to finally be able to train with my very own Bright Weights!
I know that training with a cross-trainer will make my hill sprints on both my mountain bike and running tougher, but worth it and especially help improve my swimming stamina for my first sprint triathlon in September as everything is waterproof. Bright Weights can help anyone train like a pro, no matter what your fitness level may be! I am proud to be associated with such a passionate and enthusiastic father and daughter team like Jannie and Jenna Wessels of Bright Weights.