Off Topic: Judy Potter

February 2013

  • David Knight

Off Topic and on the record, as we let South Australian identities talk about whatever they want... as long as its not their day job. Former SA Great CEO Judy Potter escapes the boardrooms (she is Chair of the Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium and the Central Market Authority) by hitting (literally) the gym.

“I’ve exercised regularly throughout my life,” Potter explains. “I completed a marathon in my 30s, so for whatever reason I decided exercise was good for me and I don’t mean just physically, I think it’s a mental thing and something I could do with my time. As a single parent it was something that at 6 o’clock in the morning I could go to the gym and it was my time. My kids have been brought up with exercise and my daughter is now training for a marathon - she’s 31.

“About four years ago I had to change how I worked because I brought my parents over, as they were about to go into a nursing home. I’m from Perth, and my parents came and I could no longer work in a full time CEO job because I was the only person they knew. I had to let go of my ego dealing with that. I used to walk a lot to deal with the fact that… well I lost my sister, my sister died suddenly, and then I was solely responsible for these wonderful old people who I was also going to lose. I walked, which was meditative, and then I walked past this boxing studio and I thought, ‘okay, I’m going to go along to that’. It was fantastic. I was halfway through the class and trying to figure out whether I was going to throw up or not! Then things went on and Dad got ill and I was losing him and then my Mum… and, I would just go boxing, and sometimes the trainer would say to me, ‘you’re really punching this bag out’ and I’ll use it if I haven’t had a good day at work, it’s just really good on so many different levels. I still see exercise as my time.

“I was boxing last night, and there was a woman there, and I’m the oldest woman there by god knows what, and she’s losing her father and I just said to her, ‘keep coming to boxing. I know there will be times when you don’t feel like coming but just keep coming because that anger is actually in you because you’re losing him, you’ll get it out on the bag’. It stops you from hitting the bottle!”

Boxing also helps Potter’s working life as well as her competitive spirit.

“When it comes to focus and your ability to adapt I think I perform a lot better if I’ve exercised. I mean, I have to exercise everyday and I think the mind is so much clearer if I’m doing that otherwise I go through the day in a fog.

“I started getting lessons to improve my technique and, I mean, I’m never going to do anything with it, it’s kick boxing, but the thing is when you’re doing it you go along thinking ‘I don’t feel well today’ or ‘I’m not going to do a hard workout’ but I can’t stop myself. If there’s someone next to me I want to do it better than they’re doing it. It’s just an inherent competitive nature. My friend Ian Hunter just got married and he had a bit of a groom’s party before the wedding and as a joke played Pass the Parcel, I mean, I just kind of wanted to win. Is that a bit sad? Most people don’t admit that, you see. I often get in to trouble because I actually say what I’m thinking. I mean you just want to win, don’t you - otherwise what’s the point of playing a game?”

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