Gym owner's transformation after escaping death, then cancer
A PASSIONATE gym owner who escaped death in a car crash about two decades ago has used her own story to challenge others on their fitness.
Ginger Draper manages the new Anytime Fitness gym at Ripley.
Ms Draper has shared her harrowing personal story to prove it is not hard to turn your life around.
"I was super active when I was younger," she said.
"As I got a bit older, I got an office job, worked in the city and my health slowly started to go down, I wasn't eating as well as I should."
Her life changed in September 1997, when a semi-trailer drove over the top of her car as she was driving to work.
Ms Draper spent the next three months in hospital with a fractured cheek, broken nose, ribs and breaks up her legs.
"I was a real mess," she said.
When the recovering redhead returned to work, her health deteriorated further.
"I went back to work and it slowly crept on," she said.
"I went downhill.
"Then I had my first baby and it spiralled out of control."
Ms Draper's weight created problems and pain in her back.
"I became so dependent on painkillers, I was out of control," she said.
She attended a pain management clinic but soon realised exercise was the only thing that made a real difference.
"I realised the more I walked, the better my back felt," she said.
"I would get up every morning and you'd see me with my two poodles, I'd be walking and walking.
"I think I did two kilometres the first day and she ended up walking about 9km."
After a personal trainer helped turn her life around Ms Draper started participating and placing in bikini muscle competitions.
"I dropped the rest of my weight," she said.
"If I can do it, anyone can."
The fully fit mother became passionate about the outdoors and started securing certificate qualifications in fitness as an extra activity.
"I'd worked 20 years at Sisters Inside, supporting women," she said.
"For me it was a natural progression in supporting them in a different way.
"I build my skills up and the time came that I realised this was my passion."
Two years ago, one day before her 40th birthday doctors discovered a lump on her chest.
It was a stage zero cancer.
"They went in and got it sorted but it was a real wake-up call," she said.
"I'm hitting 40 and I thought what's going on?
"That was the turnaround, it was at that point I thought it's time to do what I love, life is too short."
Ms Draper resigned from her job and joined More Results training in Ipswich.
She made the jump into managing her own gym when Anytime Fitness opened its Ripley site last year.
"I've come into this amazing gym," she said.
"I'm not just doing what I love but doing it where I live.
"I love Ipswich, I have been here all my life."
Ms Draper is now passionate about getting adults to take care of their health.
Ms Draper said healthy parents would convert to healthy children.
"Think of the great example you are setting," she said.
"Kids see their parents smoke or drink and they naturally move into that.
"If kids see parents out exercising they follow suit."