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Rapu Ora Fitness Challenge Changing More than Diets

By UCOL on Friday, 14 July 2017

A photograph of a group of people from UCOL

The UCOL Rapu Ora Fitness Challenge just completed its third round but for one whānau its not only changed their whole eating and exercise regime, it’s changed their entire lifestyle.

Anton Williams visited his doctor prior to taking up the challenge only to be told that he had critical health issues that would mean he wouldn’t be around his whānau for as long as what he’d planned “I felt for my children, and I had to make a difference,” he, says.

Anton along with his wife, Erica who works at the polytechnic and their children all took part in the 10 week challenge which originally started in 2016 by a group of exercise and sport students who began holding healthy living workshops at the Palmerston North Campus. The workshops soon turned into a whānau room challenge, with participants paying a registration fee of $10 which goes to the person who loses the most weight per body mass.

The Williams whānau began exercising together, exchanging chippies for fruit and soon realised that it was not just a physical challenge but an emotional one as well.

“Its about taking back our mana,” say’s Erica “by having the power to say no.  Its not about dieting, its about life.  We are much closer as a family.. even our daughter said, if we can do this, we can do anything.”

Thirty two took part in the challenge. As a group they would come together and share emotions and struggles that they were facing. Hearing each others’ battles and knowing that they weren’t alone were critical support for each other. 

Erica say’s there were cultural and social pressures to eat and planning played a large part in their success.  Our lifestyle change has impacted on our community, our church, instead of cakes and pizza, they now take healthier options for shared kai.

Anton went on to lose 23kg winning the challenge and gaining a whole new perspective on life. Returning to the doctor Anton’s results had all returned to normal “I burst into tears, all my results were normal and my doctor said I just gained another 10 years. This challenge has transformed my life.” 

Erica, who came second losing 17.9kg say’s it's now about the journey after the programme. 

Peta Watson, a student studying the Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology) placed third losing a total of 1.2kg.  “I had a goal to get into better health,” she says.

“For me it was about healthier eating, as I have an eating disorder rather than weight loss.”  Since moving to Palmerston North from Tauranga she had been eating badly, which did not help her eating disorder.

“I did my journey by myself, it was my own journey but I used the other participants as encouragement rather than support. It is a challenge, I’d encourage anyone new to it, to use support more than I did.”

On behalf of all participants, acknowledgement goes out to the sport and exercise students who took the time to train, encourage and support participants throughout each challenge, volunteering their own time towards making a difference in the lives of others.


Pictured above (from left):  Anton Williams, UCOL student trainer Denem Rahi-Cook, Erica Williams, UCOL Student trainer Krystal Murphy and Anton and Erica’s youngest daughter.  Another Trainer Arios Toa was missing due to an exam.
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