Keely Mancini

I grew up in London, as far away from rural Queensland as you can get so I am a true city girl.

My husband however is from Longreach, his parents owned a property 45 mins outside of town so his upbringing was quite the opposite of mine. 

The first thing that struck me when I met his family and after visiting Longreach for the first time was the strong sense of community. I love listening to the stories of Andrew growing up and life in the country and it is easy to see why everyone comes together and supports one another, not just in times of need but in times of celebration as well, its a wonderful lifestyle .

The second thing that struck me was that life in the country can be hard.  It can be isolating and many things are dependent on factors that are simply out of our control.

For me there was also the realisation that we have so much choice and ease here in the city from the very important things like schools, doctors and hospitals to more simple everyday things like the variety of shops, restaurants and cinemas, the things we take for granted.

My life has been tied up in exercise and fitness on a professional and recreational level for as long as I can remember and I gain huge satisfaction and enjoyment from it and love to encourage others to get involved and say ‘yes’ to doing something that they may not have considered before. If I can help raise money for such an important cause like getting critical health services out to rural and isolated Queensland communities and combine it with something I am hugely passionate about, then I can’t think of a better cause to devote my time to.

I started my working life as contemporary dancer, touring and performing professionally for many years. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach workshops in schools and colleges while on tour and realised I loved teaching. Teaching has been my primary focus ever since, first in dance then as a fitness professional and for the last 21 years as a Pilates instructor. My work also involves Mentoring and Educating for Polestar Pilates Australia and I work closely with students in preparation for exams and a career as a Pilates Instructor, which is an aspect of my work that I love. I also have a Bsc in Psychology which I don’t use professionally but it helps in many aspects of my life and work.

I moved quite comfortably from dance into the world of health and fitness on a recreational level as well as a professional one. I started running and enjoyed taking part in fitness comps with my colleagues.  In my early 30’s I joined Thames Rowing Club and competed at an amateur level for many years. Before I left London in 2004 I signed up to run the London Marathon as it was on my bucket list, I completed this with a girlfriend and it was a huge tick for both of us as it seemed like a massive task initially but a reminder that quite simply anything is possible if you put you mind to it, stay focused and work hard.

Everything I had done to that point in my career and socially had allowed me to create great friendships, the passion shared, the tears and the triumphs and the long hours training created bonds that last a lifetime so when I moved to Australia it made sense to join a gym, and a running club and start doing the things I loved and slowly I found my place and my friends in my new country. With these friends, I have been lucky enough to run a few more marathons, cycle more kilometres than I thought possible, learn to swim like an Australian (well nearly) and call myself a triathlete, an Ironman, a cyclist and an ultra marathon runner!

During this time I have also become a wife, a mother and a business owner so know only too well the restrictions and the juggling of keeping everything running (somewhat) smoothly which is the common thread through most of the women who join the Girls Got Heart team.

I met Bec back in 2010 when we were both training for a marathon. Bec was off to New York and I was off to the Gold Coast, different events but we shared the experience. Since then we have become great friends, we have supported each other and found the time to train together, cry and laugh together and most importantly celebrate our achievements together, no matter how big or small, and we love getting away on a girls weekend with the excuse of racing in an event!

Girls Got Heart seemed a natural progression of our friendship and it has been great fun and a privilege to create and develop Girls Got Heart together, being able to share all of these things with other like minded women and raise money and awareness for a great cause at the same time. 

I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my family both here and in London.  Andrew and our two sons are totally invested in Girls Got Heart, it’s exciting for all of us.  Andrews love of country life and stories of childhood keep our connection to rural Queensland very real,  Girls Got Heart is something that we are all very passionate about.