• Larissa Tuhaka (right).
  • Blake Douglas.
  • Olivia Kitson.
  • Christine Young with trainer Selva Thangamani.
  • Adrian Turner.

Fitness and Wellbeing on the Shore

Getting hooked on bootcamp

Channel Magazine’s own writer, Christine Young, explains why keeping active is important at any age.

Channel Magazine’s Christine Young loves the bootcamp she attends three times weekly and understands the importance of keeping fit at any age. Christine leads a full and busy life, she has numerous projects on the go as a freelancer, she's a grandmother and packs her week with walking with friends, her beloved bootcamp and a range of writing projects. She gives Channel an insight into her healthy lifestyle, her addiction to sudoku and her upcoming cycle trip.

Channel Magazine: What’s your health and fitness journey looked like over the years? Have you always been passionate about keeping fit?
Christine Young:
I was active but had done very little regular exercise until we decided to get fit to do a trek in India and Nepal in 2014 and on an impulse enrolled in a six-week early morning fitness boot camp. It was really tough to start with but I was hooked and have now been attending Get Fit Fast boot camps (with Selva Thangamani) for nearly seven years. I’m also an occasional cyclist, swimmer and social walker.

CM: What regular exercise do you do and why do you like it?
I do at least three classes a week with Get Fit Fast and love the variety in each class and the different feel to the classes on each day. Like I said, I’m hooked. I also think it’s probably really good for me, but that main thing is that I enjoy it. I’m missing yoga and one of my resolutions for this year was to start going to regular yoga classes again.

CM: Why is working out regularly important to you? And what do you find challenging about it?
I’m aware that as you get older your body slows down, but that if you keep moving, you can keep moving. I just want to be able to keep doing active things as long as I can. Challenging? Boot camp is a full-on hour! Just about everything (cardio, stretches, strength) and just about every session is challenging in some way, but I end each session feeling really good and ready to tackle the day.

CM: What is your overall philosophy on health and wellness? Do you focus on eating well, exercise, mental health or everything holistically?
Along with exercise, I try to eat healthily; we eat fresh from our garden a lot, plus try to avoid sugar and too much carbohydrate.

CM: Does your family enjoy health and fitness also?
Yes. My husband attends boot camp as well – for much the same reasons as I do – it keeps him going, he says. Our daughters are regular gym-goers and our grandchildren all love various sports.

CM: Outside of your usual bootcamp, do you have any favourite walks or other ways to keep fit?
I go for a regular walk at different places around Auckland with friends most Wednesdays, and also walk early on the mornings we don’t do bootcamp. We enjoy getting out and exploring the country with multi-day bike rides and tramping (mostly where someone organises and carries most of the food for us!). We’re planning a five-day cycle from Petone through the Remutakas (with a lay day in Martinborough – have to sample the local products) and Orongorongo in February with friends, and walking the Queen Charlotte Track with other friends in April. Plus we do day walks when we get the opportunity.

CM: Mental wellness is really important, what do you enjoy doing to keep your mind active?
I work freelance, so take on a range of different writing and editing projects. I’m also chair of the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa, which is a busy role, and through this, I’m involved in the establishment of the new Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador programme. I read quite a lot and belong to a book club. I’m also a bit addicted to crosswords and sudoku, and try to complete a couple each day.

Working out with Les Mills’ Livi

Trainer Olivia Kitson chats to Channel Magazine about setting health and fitness goals for the new year and why she loves her job!

Olivia Kitson is a group fitness trainer at Les Mills Takapuna. She’s in her early twenties and is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about keeping fit and staying healthy. Livi is also in the process of registering to be a dietitian and says growing up with an active and adventurous family set her up for her career in wellness. In this interview, she talks about what she does to stay fit and healthy, venturing out of her comfort zone as a naturally shy person, mentoring other young trainers and she also provides some valuable tips for readers wanting to kick start their health journey’s for 2021.

Channel Magazine: What is your role at Les Mills and why do you enjoy it?
Olivia Kitson:
I’m a group fitness instructor at Les Mills, certified in GRIT, sprint and CX Worx. I've been teaching for over five years now (since I was 18 years old!). I love my job because I get to meet so many incredible people and share my passion for health and fitness. I’ll admit, I’m naturally very shy so it has been the perfect push for me to get outside of my comfort zone and build confidence. I also get to mentor upcoming instructors and take them through the certification process which is very rewarding.

CM: Explain to Channel readers what your background in health and fitness is. What did you study?
I have always been passionate about sports, fitness, food and nutrition. I started a healthy food Instagram page when I was about 13 years old (@healthy_chik on Instagram) and I still use it to share my favourite recipes, food, fitness and lifestyle tips. After school, I followed my passion and completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Sports & Exercise Science. I then went on to complete my Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at Massey University. Five years of study later, I am now searching for jobs as a nutritionist and in the process of registering as a dietitian.

CM: Growing up did you have active family or friends that encouraged you to take this route or was it something you found independently?
I was lucky enough to grow up with a super active and adventurous family. My brother and I would play a different sport every day after school and spent summers at the family bach which involved water-skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, fishing, beach cricket…everything! My brother and I would spend hours throwing a rugby ball on the beach and still do! Dad was the one who got me into running and my friends took me to my first grit class; after that I became hooked.  

CM: Given it's the new year we likely have readers who are looking to kick-start their health and wellness journey or set some goals for the year, do you have any advice on where to start or creating realistic and achievable goals?
Try something new! Pick a new type of exercise, sport, or try a new gym class with a friend! Once you find something you love, you are so much more likely to stick to it. Exercise should be enjoyable – after all, we were designed for movement. If you like running, why not sign up for a half marathon? I did my first half last year and loved it! Will definitely be signing up for another one or maybe even a full! Keep a journal and use it to plan, reflect, and set goals. I keep mine beside my bed so I can reflect on my day and plan for the day ahead. Share your goals with your friends & family to help keep yourself accountable. Get creative in the kitchen. Try some new foods and recipes. Recently, I found a love for tofu and eggplant and have been experimenting with some amazing plant-based recipes that are super easy, affordable and delicious – homemade black bean burgers for example.

CM: Who are the sports people or health and wellness influencers that you admire and why?
Erin Maw, a Les Mills presenter, part of the creative team and global ambassador. Not only does Erin help put together new and exciting workouts, she leads by example, is super humble, passionate and incredibly inspiring. Selva Thangamani is my personal trainer, athlete and coach. I have been training with Selva for about five years now. We focus on strength, mobility, and calisthenics. This is the type of training that helps to keep me strong for all of my classes and also pushes me to try new things. I love Selva’s positive energy, it’s contagious and makes me feel invincible. My fiancé, Jon Clark, is a Les Mills instructor and leader. No matter what obstacle gets in this guy’s way, he will find a way to push through. He is also very caring, passionate, and gives 110% to all of his classes and his own training.

CM: What do you do to relax after a busy day at work?
Jon and I like to wind down with a cheese platter, a glass of wine and a game of Scrabble! I also love to take my 12 year old golden retriever down to the beach for an evening wander.

CM: If you had to pick, what’s your favourite way to work out and why?
This is a really tough question! It’s got to be Les Mills GRIT. I thrive on challenges and this programme just keeps getting better and better. We just finished heart rate testing for the new releases which involves doing the workout with a heart rate chest strap connected to an iPad. When your goal is to be in the red zone for as long as possible, things get pretty wild! I also love running, functional workouts and training with my PT, Selva.

Follow Livi on instagram: www.instagram.com/healthy_chik

Busy Dad making health and wellness a priority

Blake talks about his favourite fitness classes, prioritising health and fitness as a busy Dad of two and the sportsperson he would like to meet one day.

Blake Douglas lives and breathes health and fitness. He originally trained as a personal trainer before starting his career at Benefitz and continues to make wellness a daily priority, while working full time and raising his young family. The Shore local is a huge cricket fan and has played the sport extensively over the years for the Takapuna Pirates, along with attending bootcamps, being a regular member of Les Mills and running. He now spends lots of time enjoying the outdoors with his wife, Kellie, and two young children, Rocco who is three and Stevie who is five months. Blake talks about his favourite fitness classes, how prioritising health and fitness makes him more productive and the sportsperson he would like to meet one day!

Channel Magazine: How did your passion for health and fitness begin?
Blake Douglas:
I’ve always been active and sporty but I really got into my health and fitness when I retired from playing cricket back in 2016. I needed something new to challenge me and my passion developed from there.

CM: You belong to Les Mills Takapuna, why do you enjoy going there?
Yes I love training at Les Mills. The gym itself is great but the main reason I love it is the group fitness classes - they are world class and the instructors are amazing. With so many options, you never get bored of doing the same thing each week. My favourite class is Grit Strength. Les Mills OnDemand was a real lifesaver during lockdown last year too.

CM: What is your favourite workout and why?
I love HIIT (high intensity interval training) especially the Les Mills Grit Classes. They are only 30 minutes long and very challenging no matter your fitness level. The key for me is to mix up my trainings and do a wide range of things including resistance training (weights), running, yoga, group fitness classes and more.

CM: You’re a dad of two now, how do you balance health and fitness while working and parenting?
It’s a busy time for me right now, but there ARE enough hours in the day to get it all done. I think you prioritise things that are important to you, and my health and fitness is important. Plus, I am an early riser so I like to get things ticked off early in the day. I also have a very supportive wife who allows me ‘my time’ to sweat because I am a much nicer and more productive person after I have trained. Also, lots of coffee is key.

CM: If you had to choose your favourite sport, what would it be and why?
Definitely cricket. I played cricket my whole life up until four years ago, some of my best memories and best friends were made through playing cricket. I’m really enjoying playing golf now but I’m not very good though!

CM: If you could meet any sportsperson in the world, who would it be and why?
Shane Warne, one of the greats of cricket. He has such an amazing cricket brain, he would have a lot of good stories and loves a drink or two.

CM: Do you have any fitness/sport related goals in 2021?
I’m currently running the Auckland half marathon series (five half marathons all over Auckland during the summer months) and I plan on doing the coastal challenge again in late February. I'd also like to play more golf... if my wife lets me!

Polishing up at crossfit

Local Takapuna jeweller, Adrian Turner, chats to Channel Magazine about his fitness regime along with operating a busy jewellery business.

Adrian Turner is the owner of luxury Takapuna jewellery store, Fifth Avenue, and a health and wellness enthusiast. He does a crossfit-based workout at least 3-4 times a week. Adrian’s passion for diamonds and jewellery started as a 10 year-old when he worked in a tiny English village helping the local jeweller by tidying his workshop and sweeping the floors. The team now works hard creating and selling beautiful pieces to their loyal customers. Adrian enjoys keeping active and in this interview he tells Channel Magazine about balancing his busy job at the store with prioritising his health and his advice for others looking to start their fitness journey.

Channel Magazine: What does your current health and fitness regime look like?
Adrian Turner:
I train (or try to) at least three to four times a week. I do a lot of Crossfit-based exercise, typically the first part of my training session will be based around strength and improving certain skills then after that it's a 'metcon' type workout (Metabolic conditioning, high work rate).

CM: What do you enjoy about keeping fit?
It keeps me sane. Seriously, it's a great release valve for me, it allows me to vent any frustrations I have, or gives me a place and chance to think. It's my 'timeout' so to speak and I love the feeling afterwards. If you've had a good workout and you've really put the effort in, the feeling afterwards mentally is like nothing else, it's amazing!

CM: Do you have a favourite healthy week day meal that you regularly make?
My family gives me a hard time because I have broccoli with everything. Even if we do a 'cheat' night and have takeaways, I still have broccoli... it's sad I know.

CM: Do you think keeping fit and healthy impacts positively when it comes to running your jewellery business?
Absolutely, no question about it! For me it's been a saving grace. I actually function better, it helps you think, deal with stress and being healthy has a lot of positives. I can honestly say that if I haven't been able to train for a week, it really affects me... I've been told I get grumpy.  

CM: What advice would you give busy working people like yourself who perhaps want to kickstart their health and fitness in 2021 but don’t know where to start?
Look it's always hard at the beginning, you've got to find your 'why?', and once you've decided to make that change and start your new regime, stick with it. It takes about 21 days to get yourself into a new good habit. Do that, and you'll thank yourself for it.

CM: Do you have any local outdoor spots that you enjoy working out at?
Yes, out in 'the yard' at Les Mills Takapuna. There's plenty of room in the yard normally,  I just put my earphones in and get into it.

CM: It’s the New Year, do you have any goals or aspirations health and fitness wise for the year ahead?
Yes, I'd like to improve on my performance in the Crossfit Open this year.

For more info on Fifth Avenue, take a look at their website or visit Adrian and the team. www.fifth-avenue.co.nz
5 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland 0622

Sprinting to success

Former NZ rep sprinter, Larissa Tuhaka, gives some insight into representing her country and the dedication it takes to make it to the top.

Originally hailing from Alexandra in Central Otago, New Zealand sprinting representative and Northcote local, Larissa Tuhaka, says sport was a key feature in her life, getting her through the hot summers and cold winters, eventually finding her passion in athletics. Larissa is now the Head of Marketing for Ray White New Zealand and a mum, with a lifelong interest for all things health and fitness. After doing a lot of athletics in school, Larissa studied at Otago University and did some travel before returning to New Zealand determined to make the most of her potential, eventually beginning to represent New Zealand in 2012. Larissa was also selected as the Future Women’s Leader with a scholarship to go to the 2016 IAAF London Congress and World Championships, which she says was extremely valuable in terms of learning about the business side of the sport.  After London, Larissa was preparing for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but life had another surprise in store and she is now a proud mum of Remy who is two and a half. Larissa answers a few questions from Channel about representing her country, fitting wellness into her busy life and her plans for the year ahead.

Channel Magazine: You used to be a competitive sprinter, tell Channel readers a bit about your career…
Larissa Tuhaka:
I was fortunate enough to play endless amounts of sport. However, I fell in love with athletics. I loved all disciplines, but I was fast, I won all of my sprint races through primary and into high school. My parents signed me up with Alexandra Athletics Club when I was seven, a beautiful lush grass track, where we competed in three different disciplines each week - I always remember the big group warm-up at the start of the night. Many of the coaches were high school teachers, and one in particular, Mr Hamilton (Bones or Alan Hamilton), went on to be my coach all the way through high school. In my high school years, I always loved the South Island and National events. At 18, I moved to Dunedin to study at Otago University and joined Joan Merrilies and Megan Gibbons' squad and the Taieri Athletics Club - I ended up being the Athlete Liaison and Club Security for a few years as well as a run, jump, throw coach. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Dunedin; I trained with the best athletes and coaches and participated in the Time Buster which is a race around the Octagon to try and beat the chimes (it’s hard). After completing my university degrees, I worked full time and would train in the late afternoons at the Caledonian track. After a few years, I decided to step it up a level and take athletics a bit more seriously and moved coaches to well-known sprint coach, Brent Ward. Throughout this time, I always did well at national events and travelling internationally to complete. However, the turning point would have to be when I took a six month sabbatical from work to travel to the USA to be a sports coach at the International Sports Training Camp (Summer Camp), then came back to New Zealand more determined than ever to perform at my potential. Within the year, I’d made the New Zealand 4x100m relay squad for 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

CM: Do you have a particular memory from sprinting that stands out for you?
One of the great learnings from athletics that I still use now and will continue to use is goal setting. Sitting down with coaches and putting pen to paper and figuring out a process in how things can be achieved. The journey can bring with many ups and downs, however it can be empowering and extremely fulfilling. One of my goals I’m most proud of, was getting selected for the New Zealand 4x100m squad for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the opportunities that came from that.

CM: What do you love about staying fit and active?
I feel in today’s world we are all busy, busy working, busy parenting, busy living, busy just being busy. Staying fit enables me to keep up (especially with a toddler!), and gives me the mental clarity and perspective to approach the day with a positive mindset. I do my best to move every day (some days are impossible) to release some endorphins which lifts my spirit. I always find after some body movement it brings me back to being centred, taking care of my mental and physical health so I can take care of my family and the people around me.

CM: How do you fit health and fitness into your busy lifestyle?
To be honest, sometimes it’s a struggle. My family still lives in Alexandra, and my husband’s family live in the Bay of Plenty, so it can be really challenging at times to juggle work and family life – even more so when my husband is away for work. I do my best to move every day, whether it’s a walk at lunchtime, a garage workout, a spin bike session or just a yoga routine in front of the TV once my son has gone to bed. On top of exercise, I do my best to eat well, and drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. We’ve been subscribers of My Food Bag for a number of months now and we’ve found the efficiency of cooking quality and variety of healthy meals has really suited our fast-paced lifestyle. On top of that, with Remy exploring more foods, we’ve been very conscious of what food to feed him to give him the best start of life – being organised with a plan in mind has been a good asset I’ve learnt from athletics which has transitioned well into motherhood for this. Over the past few years I’ve also started a daily gratitude diary where I write down three things which I’m grateful for that day. I’ve found relaxing on the day declutters my mind and makes me appreciate life and the small things which bring me so much joy.

CM: What do you do career-wise now that you’ve retired from competitive sprinting?
I work for the amazing corporate team at Ray White New Zealand as the Head of Marketing. I started in the real estate industry doing marketing and graphic design in Dunedin while I was studying I always had a curiosity and love for property. After a variety of other roles I’ve made my way back into real estate after I moved to Auckland with my now husband. I’ve been with Ray White for five years now, it's a family-owned and operated company by the White family in Australia. I’m absolutely blessed with the amazing, hard-working people I work with every day. The whole team has been by my side cheering me on through my athlete career, supporting me with my training (we even did the Sky Tower Stair Climb together), competition and international travel – they are truly incredible and just like family, have my back 100%.

CM: What advice do you have for young people interested in getting into athletics or sprinting?
Who doesn’t love running fast! Across all of the disciplines in athletics are the fundamentals to all sports – running, jumping and throwing. Sports. It teaches you discipline, process, teamwork, comradery, tenancy, hard work - to name a few – all of which transfer into life, parenthood and business. When I look back on highlights from my athletics career and everything that brought and still brings me so much joy, it would be the competitions which opened up the opportunities to travel. You make lifetime friends, learn new cultures, push boundaries, try food you’ve never heard of before, all while competing at your best in a sport you love.
I always drew inspiration from this quote, ‘To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.’ – Steve Prefontaine.

CM: Do you have a health/fitness goal for 2021? If so, what is it and why?
Last year was tough not doing a lot of training so this year, I’ve dug out my old strength and training programmes for the gym, signed up with a 24 hour gym and have started training, together with my sprint programmes which I’ve been doing down at the Takapuna grass track (brings back the childhood memories). I’ve read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and I want to instill good habits back into my daily routine, healthy for me and a great example for my son to see. One last goal I have is something that our CEO Carey Smith shared with us last year at our corporate retreat that he does. It’s called ‘Some lines everyday’, a five year memory book. You write a few lines each day for five years, and look back on the same date each year for what happened and how you felt – so valuable in personal learning. I’ve started this and haven’t missed a day!  


Issue 116 February 2021