Positive influence for Kaikohe wāhine

By Te Ao - Māori News

Influence Gym, a new 24 hour all women's gym, has opened in Kaikohe and owner Rhonda Zielinski-Toki believes that by reaching the average Northland woman she can bring positive change to the whānau both physically and mentally. Rukuwai Tipene-Allen caught up with the team before Monday's official opening.

It’s a sweat and determination and no excuses philosophy, Zielinsk-Toki is determined to push these women to their physical limits.

"We're not a bunch of elite athletes. We're people from all walks of life that have got stories, got testimonies, been through some hard times maybe."

But athletes or not the goal is to create a safe space for all women.

“Might be unemployed, mahi, but for me the main thing was having a place where women can come," says Zielinski-Toki.

"A lot of our women might be a bit shy about their size, might not be physically fit and, yeah, just somewhere they could come and relax without feeling like men are staring at them or other people are staring at them.”

Zielinski-Toki believes that physical activity is one way to a healthier family, “I just think that when you get physically fit and the wairua is looked after everything comes into sync.”

The Ngāpuhi descendant is working to break misconceptions about Kaikohe.

"A lot of assumptions that we're lazy or that there are a lot of unemployed people in Kaikohe. We have a lot of professional people in Kaikohe," she says.

Zielinski-Toki hopes that with tomorrow's opening comes new opportunities for positive change in her Northland community.