Health & Fitness

Kiwis must grasp a far greater awareness of health

Richard Beddie

Richard Beddie

New Zealanders need to grasp a far greater awareness of health in 2019, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie said today.

ExerciseNZ’s recent consumer research report found awareness of health is the number one reason people exercise, which is just under three quarters of all New Zealand exercisers.

“This is quite consistent across all age bands, genders and income levels,” Beddie says.

“There are lots more choice now from traditional gym offerings and everything from $6 a week to $75 for boutique and specialist studios, as well as park, hall or mobile based services. 

“Also, a far greater variety of products are on offer, with everything from yoga to boot camp and 20-minute-high intensity classes to 90-minute meditation sessions.

“We are seeing a greater diversity of individuals interested in exercise. Many gyms have their youngest member in their teens and oldest in the 80s or 90s. 

“Equally, disabilities and or health conditions that would historically be viewed as reasons not to exercise are now being catered for.”

The ExerciseNZ consumer research report said 51 percent of all respondents indicated they had carried out structured exercise in the past 30 days and just under half of these, around 743,600 adults, reported currently having a fitness membership.

Non-participation in structured exercised activities generally increased to a peak among 55 to 64 year olds.

While 18 to 24 year olds are relatively active in structured exercise terms, participation dropped significantly from 25 years of age and to a minority after 45 years of age, Beddie says.

“Exercise is still the #1 new year’s resolution for most Kiwis and is also now the #1 sport in New Zealand with more than half a million participants and growing research confirming the health benefits of activity for all Kiwis.

“The new year is a good time to start doing something regularly; the variety of exercise offerings has never been greater in quality or more diverse in offering including price options and product range,” Beddie says.


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NZ streets ahead of India and China on female participation in exercise

Richard Beddie

Richard Beddie

New Zealand is tiny compared to the population powerhouses of China or India, but the Kiwi exercise culture is streets ahead of those countries in terms of female and male participation, Exercise NZ chief executive Richard Beddie says. 

China and India’s exercise industry is still male dominated. Over three quarters of attendees to gyms in India and China are men, who in turn focus almost exclusively on building muscle, and the workforce is more than 80 percent male in India, compared to 45 percent in New Zealand, he says. 

Beddie has recently returned from speaking to counterparts in China and in Mumbai and Delhi in India, where wrestling has been a popular sport and strong tradition among men. 

“Far fewer women, on a percentage basis, are involved in the exercise industry in those countries, other than tai chi and yoga. 

“Women, in India and China have, in the past, been stay-at-home mums, with inherent responsibilities, and no time to go out and exercise in structured facilities. 

“Secondly there are not many gyms in India for both male and female and not many women can afford or have time for a workout. 

“But in neighbourhood parks (in morning and evenings), women are among many people of all ages walking, running and strolling about, for exercise. 

“New Zealand also has a more comprehensive training methodology, is more holistic in its approach and able to help more people, be they older, younger, female or male or those with health conditions.   

“We have the highest percentage of our industry's exercise professionals registered (just over 70 percent), compared to under 20 percent in many countries with registration systems and as high as 50 to 60 percent in Australia and the United Kingdom. In New Zealand, exercise professionals register with the NZ Register of Exercise Professionals. 

“We have some of the best training systems and personal trainers in the world.  We have the best group exercise organisations. Les Mills for example has 12 national gyms and is still growing, aiming to have 75,000 members throughout New Zealand within five years. 

“Its sister company, Les Mills International, focuses on fitness programmes which are used in 19,500 gyms in 100 countries. 

“Where we need to work on - being more accessible to the non-exerciser and helping them getting started and stick with a new exercise programme.”

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Boxing classes better for people with brain diseases

Photo: A Counterpunch Parkinson’s class. Gombinsky Roach at bottom right.

Photo: A Counterpunch Parkinson’s class. Gombinsky Roach at bottom right.

A New Zealand boxing-fitness expert is urging Kiwis with chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s to lead more physically active lives and start boxing.

Auckland boxing fitness trainer Lisa Gombinsky Roach is especially pleading for people with health issues to exercise more.

She will be speaking on all the benefits of boxing-fitness for older people with Parkinson's at the 11th annual New Zealand exercise industry conference, Fitex, in Auckland between November 23 and 25.

More than 800 people will attend, with more than 60 speakers and 100 sessions. The event will include the annual Exercise NZ exercise industry awards.

Gombinsky Roach has worked on rehabilitation not just in New Zealand but also in Australia, Norway, Canada, and England and says Many people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed in their 40s and 50s and conditions like multiple multiple sclerosis are most likely to be diagnosed in the 30s.

She set up Counterpunch Parkinson’s several years ago on the North Shore along with former New Zealand boxing champion Shane Cameron. Counterpunch Parkinson’s has accredited 60 coaches all around New Zealand and two internationally.

Gombinsky Roach says some years ago people diagnosed with chronic neurological conditions were treated as invalids and told to consider a wheelchair.

“Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Robust research supports the benefits of exercise for people with virtually every diagnosis.

“I tell anyone who has a disease such as Parkinson's not to let an old person move into move into their body. The advice to slow down and be careful and avoid fatigue is no longer considered best practice and will often do more harm than good.

“My brand Counterpunch Parkinson’s is like most box fit programmes which is purely non-contact.  Boxing is great for fitness, coordination, strength and agility and does not cause brain injuries or Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

“In our classes we just hit boxing bags and focus pads and do exercise that improves balance and works on fall prevention so arguably we are helping people protect their brains.

“Exercise promotes brain health and is neuroprotective, promotes repair where possible and promotes neuroplasticity. Being sedentary promotes brain decline.

“Boxing is fun and engaging and allows us to address the motor issues of conditions like Parkinson’s such as balance, stiffness, slowness, tremor and strength.

“We give people a way to release frustrations of the disease. We give them hope, make them feel positive and feel better instead of leaving them to despair as they sit back and accept that they are getting worse.

“Parkinson’s doesn’t kill people, but it can isolate them, it can frustrate them, it can cause apathy, depression and anxiety. Socialising at a box fit class is better for people. We say when life gives you Parkinson’s, then Counterpunch.

“There is considerable literature that supports exercise for literally all neurological conditions which suggests that being sedentary adds secondary complications,” Gombinsky Roach says.



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