Tayla Earle was craving a new challenge.
After winning a second ANZ Premiership title with the Northern Mystics, and nearing the end of her sport and exercise degree, Earle found herself searching for a routine during a long off-season period for netball.
So the New Zealand A and Fast5 Ferns midcourter committed herself to the 75 Hard challenge, documenting her journey to her 15,000 TikTok followers.
The 75 Hard is a fitness/lifestyle challenge, where participants spend 75 days following a routine. Earle calls it a “self-discipline” challenge.
She had to drink 3.8L of water every day, had no “cheat meals” or alcohol, did two 45-minute workouts a day (one outside) and read at least 10 pages of a book.
“I didn’t have much of a routine and wanted to challenge myself, because all I was really doing was uni,” Earle explains.
“So I decided to jump onto 75 Hard – I loved it so much, I felt like I learned a lot about myself, and developed some really good habits.
“I just was a little unmotivated and just needed something to challenge myself, make me self-disciplined and I feel like it did what it was set out to do.”
As an elite athlete, Earle was already living a healthy lifestyle, so the biggest lesson she took from the 75 days was the mental side of the challenge.
“A lot of it is ticking off things on a list to make sure you’ve accomplished each day and I think the biggest thing wasn’t necessarily the tasks,” the 23-year-old reflects.
“But I was always thinking about how I was feeling and what the purpose of this challenge was, which I hadn’t really processed before. So I was really grateful for the mental space and the mental clarity that the challenge gave me.”
Earle shared every day of the challenge with her followers on TikTok, gaining almost 400,000 likes across her account. Her final 75 Hard video has over 750,000 views.
“That was a way to keep myself accountable and connect in with some other people who I hadn’t connected with, like fans and just people who are engaging. It was real cool, creating a little 75 Hard community online,” she says.
She surprisingly wasn’t craving anything when she finished the challenge, becoming used to eating nutritious and whole foods that fuelled her body. But she did have a few cookie pies, sent to her by fellow netballer Greer Sinclair.
Earle says her main takeaway for her netball career is recognising how her body and brain are feeling, and responding to that.
“I know I train well and perform well mentally and physically when I am productive,” she says.
“The main thing is recognising how I’m feeling, and doing what I need to so that I can perform well.”
Earle finished the challenge the same day she completed her uni degree – a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation at the Auckland University of Technology.
The three-year degree was stretched over five years, as she balanced it with netball.
“I might come back and do my Master’s at some point, but for now, I’m just quite happy with a Bachelor’s,” Earle says.
She’s now working through the process of starting her own online personal training business.
Earle will do that alongside another year with the Mystics in 2024, her sixth with the Auckland-based franchise.
“I just felt like I still had a lot in Auckland outside of netball what I wanted to do and being in Auckland was the right place for me,” Earle explains on her re-signing.
“But also why fix what’s not broken in a way? I still feel I have heaps to learn from the coaches, heaps to learn from the players.”
Earle is a member of the Silver Ferns development squad, and the New Zealand A team who played a match against England in September.
“It’s been awesome to get some exposure at that international level,” Earle says.
Her end goal is still donning the black dress of the Silver Ferns.
“I feel like, as I’ve got older, I’ve realised and figured out what I need to work on and my strengths and weaknesses and own them,” she explains.
“So that’s definitely coming into fruition, and making the Silver Ferns is my end goal, but putting no pressure on myself and just absorbing any opportunity I can.”
Earle played for the 2022 Fast5 Ferns who beat England in the bronze medal match, and is looking forward to playing again in this weekend’s Fast5 World Series tournament in Christchurch.
“I really enjoyed it, it was a different kind of game,” she says. “It’s lots of one-on-one, man-on kind of attack and D [defence].
“It’s a little bit different and it’s a lot faster, but I feel like how I play anyway fits the Fast5 style.”
Earle (right) at last year’s Fast5 competition.
Earle is known for her speed and never-ending energy in the midcourt. With Fast5 having only one midcourt player and rolling subs, she’s the perfect candidate for a team.
It’s also a chance to come up against international opponents, play against different styles of netball, but also for Earle to play with new teammates.
“Half of us were in the NZ A and half are coming from [the] Ferns so it’s going to be real awesome,” she says.
“I’m really excited to play some of the other teams and connect back in with some of these girls who I haven’t played with in a while.”
And as for the all-important role of choreographer? Silver Fern Tiana Metuarau has that job covered.
“I’m very excited, we’ve got 45 seconds to work with, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great,” Earle laughs.
*The Fast5 Netball World Series starts at 12pm on Saturday, with coverage live on Sky Sport 2. Day two starts at 11.45am, on Sky Sport 1, with both days’ evening sessions free-to-air on Sky Open.
**Fast5 Ferns: Kate Burley, Tayla Earle, Georgia Heffernan, Paris Lokotui, Amorangi Malesala, Tiana Metuarau, Grace Nweke, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Whitney Souness, Elle Temu.