"Don't be embarrassed, be healthy"

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Working out together as whānau can empower Māori to be healthy, that's the foundation of a new fitness program at Metcon RX gym in Gisborne.

Let go of fear and anxiety to pursue health, that's the message from these exercise program participants.

Don't be embarrassed, most of the time it's the shy ones who don't come but when you do you know that no one else is paying any attention to you because you're exhausted, but to me, working as a collective is much better than working individually,” says Marama Jones.

Max Matenga says, “There's a large group of Māori who tell themselves that it's too hard and it's easier to just sit on the couch, so I encourage them all to come and give it a go.

The participants are part of an intense daily exercise program that aims to embody health goals for the New Year.

Founder of Metcon RX, Dianne Akurangi of Ngāti Porou says, “We have 47 whānau on board that challenge, and it's based around new year’s resolutions so getting healthier getting fitter losing some weight gaining some muscle toning up looking better and feeling better.”

Max Matenga says, “I come every day to get fit to improve my life and get ready for the day."

Metcon RX in Gisborne was developed by Dianne Akurangi to assist whānau in creating healthier lifestyles and is based on building resilience.

Dianne Akurangi says, “If we want to build that resilience and get whānau healthier it's about building a supportive environment for our whānau to come.”

Marama Jones says, “The trainer is there to encourage you and your friends are there supporting you as well.”

Dianne Akurangi says that training as a group is a natural way to engage Māori in physical exercise.

For us Māori we like a bit of competition so if someone in front of us is going faster than us we want to go faster,” says Akurangi.

Max Matenga says, “You see the aunties and uncles, the mothers and the younger ones working together to get stronger, there's nothing better than that.”

Akurangi says the hardest part for Māori is walking in the door, but once they do the rest is history.