Cassie Scully is an amazing athlete. She has trained hard for most of her life, first as a gymnast, then moving into aerobics, where she competed on the world stage. Scully finished second at the World Championships on the Gold Coast last year in front of a home crowd. This result was a career best and the crowning achievement of an amazing singles career.
Scully shows no signs of relaxing or retiring from aerobics and has started training for a mixed doubles partnership with Andrew Ikin, who delivered a stellar performance in the first series of So You Think You Can Dance.
We caught up with her in between teaching classes at her Sapphire studio and her busy personal training schedule, to see what she has planned for this year.
How old were you when you started training?
I was 9 years old when I was selected to go to a specialist gymnastic sports school in Sydney. I trained 36 hours a week until Year 7 when I went to an aerobics competition. I fell in love with the sport, and I have been doing it ever since.
Was having a background in gymnastics an advantage?
I think that most aerobics athletes need or at least benefit from a background in gymnastics, and it helps when learning the necessary skills.
The training schedule seems very rigorous for someone so young. Did you find you were already conditioned from the time you had spent doing gymnastics?
Yes, because of my background in gymnastics I was used to getting up early and pushing my body to the limit. The advantage with aerobics for me was that I could get into it, train hard, and get it done.
I wasn’t involved in a club or a group and my training was based on quality over quantity, which is the same training schedule I follow when coaching my athletes.
Pushing yourself to the limit usually comes at a price. Have you acquired many injuries?
I have been very lucky with injuries. I always try to train on a good surface, and that has protected my joints. The floor I train on at home is the same as what they use for the world championships. It’s a sprung floor, with foam under the wooden surface.
Parents who send their children to you for tuition must feel at ease knowing their kids are training on a decent surface. Is it punishing for your body landing on a floor that is not set up this way?
I have coached around Australia at different clubs, and sometimes it feels like you’re walking into a warzone … students walking around with elbows and knees strapped. It shows you really have to train on the right surface.
Hardly any of the kids who come to me get injuries, and we have a great facility for training here.
Whom do you teach aerobics to?
I have coached people from 5 years old to 50 in aerobics. I also do personal training for all ages, levels and personal goals.
What are the advantages for children who take up aerobics?
Fun, strength, fitness and flexibility are the main things. Also though, they learn how to organise their time better. Being an elite gymnast as a child didn’t allow much social or study time, which taught me how to prioritise quick smart – I was always organised and so were most of the other gymnasts. We would always have our schoolwork done; it’s a life skill that you learn.
You mentioned you are available for personal training as well?
I love my personal training, whether someone’s goal is to lose a bit of weight or to better their fitness, or to maintain their strength and fitness as a lifestyle. I enjoy going on that journey with them, and to see them get the result they are hoping for is an awesome feeling.
You seem to be moving towards becoming a full-time coach, now that you’re not competing as much?
I do all my personal training and coaching here in the local area. I am also asked to travel to Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast to undertake coaching there. I even coach via email; students send me footage from all over Australia and the world, and I coach this way as well.
Even though you have stopped competing in singles aerobics, you are now taking up mixed doubles. Tell us a bit about that?
I have gone into mixed pairs this year. It’s something I have never done before; I have always been an individual. It’s an awesome change for me; I am having so much fun with it. Of course, I am a very competitive person, so when I get on stage I am going to do my absolute best.
My partner is Anthony Ikin, who is an awesome guy, and I think it’s going to be a great year. He was on So You Think You Can Dance, the first season, and he did great there. He is an awesome aerobics athlete and reached third in the world at one stage.
What differences do you see?
I think having him warming up with me backstage and performing onstage I won’t be as nervous as usual. When you’re out there as a single, it’s all on you. We will see … I will still have the pressure of not wanting to let my partner down.
What has been the biggest highlight of your competitive career?
Last year I achieved my best world ranking, which was 2nd in the world by 0.1. It was very close – I did 3 awesome performances, and it was a personal best. It was at the Gold Coast, so it was great to achieve this in front of a home crowd. It’s a great memory.
Have you have been involved in the world championships for a long time?
I had 1 year off 4 years ago, to rest the body. My whole life I have been an elite gymnast and then all the crazy training for aerobics, so it was good to have a year off. But, apart from that, I have been doing them for years.
I am lucky that my sport has shown me the world; I have been able to travel and have seen many places I would have never seen otherwise.
For more info on aerobics classes or personal training with Cassie Scully: