Gill Comins is one of those annoying people who is so super-fit that even when on vacation they spend most of their time in a gym. In her case, the compulsion is CrossFit.
A physical education teacher at St. Ignatius school, Comins visited her family last month in England and regularly attended sessions at CrossFit Scarborough in Yorkshire.
She said she arrived at her village at 4:20 p.m. and was at CrossFit Scarborough by 5:15 p.m. ready to work out and, as always, was made to feel extremely welcome.
The following Saturday evening, Comins flew back from a short tip to Spain just in time for a CrossFit Scarborough charity throwdown the next day.
“Six workouts in six hours,” she said. “I loved every minute of it and claimed the partner burpee champion title.”
What is it about CrossFit that makes anyone do it on vacation too?
“I’ve received much heckling for my involvement in CrossFit over the years, but most of those have never even tried it,” she said.
“The CrossFit community is unique and really is a welcoming family wherever you go. There’s also an amazing buzz after completing a workout.”
In her youth, Comins competed in running and swimming to county level and in later years she dabbled in football, which made her extremely proud when captaining the Isle of Man women’s side at competitions that included the Island Games.
“We had an excellent coaching set-up and we competed against such teams as Scotland who were ranked sixth in the world at the time.”
Comins has competed in a number of triathlons on and off island and gained the odd podium spot and also represented Cayman at rugby in both 7s and 15s formats.
“I’ve always been enthusiastic about my football. It’s always something that seems to have enthused me. More recently, though, CrossFit would definitely be up there of my favorites.” She is a member of CrossFit 7Mile on West Bay Road.
She played quite a bit of field hockey in the Isle of Man but struggles to squeeze it in here. “I love most sports, though, so it’s hard to choose just a few.”
Comins is the youngest of three girls and was her dad’s last attempt for a Yorkshire county cricketer. Not only did he get another daughter, but cricket is one of the few sports that Comins has never played.
As a youngster she swam and ran a lot. After giving up all sports for a chunk of her teenage years, hockey and football took over.
“In my time in the Isle of Man, I was up for any mad sporting adventures and a group of us ran a relay with each person running one hour every seven hours until we traveled from the most northern tip of Ireland to the most southern tip.”
Then they decided it was great fun, so they ran from the east coast of England to the west coast before hopping on the ferry and getting back in time for Monday morning lessons. Just.
Her real stimulus to become a PE teacher emerged at high school where there was so little provision for girls’ PE and she really wanted that to change in the future.
“I was lucky as my parents drove me all over the county running and swimming, but PE provision at high school was extremely limited.”
She loves seeing students being active and happy. “Honestly, it does sometimes happen in my lessons.”
She enjoys seeing those with a real interest and dedication achieving their goals.
“To see former students achieving Olympic gold medals is really special, but so is the child who accomplishes a simple skill but as a result of self-belief, hard work and perseverance. Perseverance is a key word in many of my lessons.”
Comins acknowledges there may be some frustrations in her work but generally they do not have anything to do with the students. “I’m lucky enough to come across so many amazing individuals who all have their own qualities regardless of sporting ability.”
Although she does not have any specific sporting ambition left, Comins is “sure there are plenty still to accomplish if I can manage to stay injury free – most of which have usually been my own fault.” She hit the big 4-0 this year, which scared her, “but so far it’s been fabulous.”
Originally from just outside Scarborough on the northeast coast of England, her Cayman adventure started in 2001. Prior to that she was in the Isle of Man, which is in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England. She is a Scarborough Athletic Football Club fan.
In her time here, Comins has been inspired by runner Derek Haines through his Marathon Challenge and accomplishing his $1 million Cayman HospiceCare goal.
“Derek Larner has achieved so much through hard work and focus both for himself and with his Middle Distance Runners, and Celine Macken is a great role model for any athlete,” Comins said.
“Cayman has so many athletes who offer inspiration, not just those at the top of their game, but those who just want to make healthy life choices and changes.”
Comins has a lot of time for those who could not run to the end of the street but persevere and accomplish their goals.
“I could list many athletes in Cayman who inspire and motivate me,” she said. “Professionally, the triathlon champions Alistair and Jonny Brownlee and the boxer Nicola Adams seem like hard-working yet very humble athletes, and just by coincidence, they hail from Yorkshire.”
The Cayman sporting scene is excellent, said Comins, because there are opportunities for practically everyone and it does not matter if you have never participated in an activity as there are opportunities to join in at all levels.
Cayman also attracts a wide range of sporting professionals, which is great for such a small island, she added.
The only thing lacking are more designated indoor sporting facilities in schools.
She said she visited a school in England this summer which has only 400 students, but boasted tennis courts, sports halls, a fitness gym, swimming pool, all-weather athletics track catering for all track and field disciplines, all-weather and grass pitches, squash courts and dance studio.
“The students here are generally really keen but the heat and humidity does present restrictions,” she said.
She would also like to see more nutrition and activity programs available to a wider range of the community which could guide families in lifestyle choices.
Her next sporting event is either the team marathon, half-marathon or full Cayman marathon in December.
“Maybe it’s time to tackle the full if I can remain injury free as it’s such a wonderful event on our doorstep and it has been fabulous to see it flourish.”
Comins is overcoming a long-term back injury and trying to get back on the bike so that she can once again compete in triathlon, but the bike seems to aggravate the issue.
“But I believe some work with an osteopath in the U.K. this summer has helped it along a little further.”
Comins trains with triathlete Macken when possible and has been playing touch rugby this season with No Women No Try.
If she could be a world or Olympic champion in one event, there is no doubt of her choice. “Possibly sleeping, as I’m pretty good at that!”