Fitness student Jo's passion for connection earns her an International Women's Day award

15 March 2023

CQUniversity’s fitness training has helped Jo Piggott strengthen her passion for supporting others in the Cairns community - so much so that she was recently named the region’s International Women’s Day Woman of the Year.

Jo, who started a Certificate IV in Fitness at CQU this year, is involved in several community groups dedicated to helping give back.

“What motivated me to study at CQU? A love of fitness, getting out and about walking and talking; exploring my beautiful backyard in Cairns; the adventures, the people that you meet, the things you learn and the incredible things that you can achieve when you lead a healthy, active, and connected life,” she said.

It’s that ‘connection’ which has allowed Jo’s passion to flourish and earn her much respect in the local community.

Her passion had humble beginnings however, when she and her husband moved to Cairns and became partners in the family’s air-conditioning business.

“I knew that I would face many tests to prove myself in a traditionally male-dominated industry,” she said.

“I walked my talk and went on the road assisting the tradesmen and came to understand how challenging being a refrigeration mechanic could be. Lifting, up and down ladders, in and out of cold/freezer rooms, climbing into hot roofs.”

It was around this time that Jo was training for a triathlon and she realised that tradespeople were like athletes, needing the right nutrition, hydration, massage and stretch and strength exercises for the best outcome for their bodies, mental and physical health.

But in 2018, Jo experienced a major setback after being hospitalised with an autoimmune disease.

“Whilst I was in hospital, I had daily visitors who supported not only myself, but my family. I was so grateful for the love and support from community and when I was well, I wanted to give back,” she said.

In 2019 Jo started ‘Your Tribe’, a weekly walk and talk along the Cairns Esplanade.
It grew exponentially and now has more than 1,200 members and 15 local walk-and-talks on offer each week.
Some of the members include psychologists and first-aiders.

Yet she hasn’t stopped there.
She also organises and facilitates numerous other gatherings, including, ‘Let's Chalk About Mental Health, which aims to combat the stigma around conversations of mental health and suicide.

This year Jo also joined the board of Queensland Walks and recently started her small business, Your Tribe Australia, which provides women’s group fitness, pilates, dance fit, dinner and discussions (where no topic is taboo) and weekend hiking adventures.

“I have encouraged and helped many women step up and believe in themselves and take on these walk leader roles,” she said.

“I believe that we need to work on our body, mind and soul together. If we let one slide the rest will follow.

“If I can help women understand more about themselves, encourage, inspire and empower them, they become happier and healthier and more active members of our community. Everything positive starts to flow.”

Jo said she was honoured to have been named Woman of the Year.

“Since winning this award I have been able to connect with many more women in my community who have now joined Your Tribe Walk + Talk,” she said.

“We are helping women in so many aspects of their life through walking and talking and I am humbled and grateful that I have so many women walking with me for a happier and healthier life."