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Christchurch – New Zealand has been helping other countries’ exercise industry organisations and registration bodies to open fully up post-covid lockdown and as nations start returning to business as normal, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to re-open significantly after lockdown.

Beddie says New Zealand has been in a unique position to share advice and plans with other countries, so they can do it safely and also in a way that supports physical activity levels.

He is part of weekly Zoom sessions with international exercise associations, international gym chains, industry experts and the World Health Organisation, with about 20 to 30 countries taking part.

“We are now actively engaging with the Ministry of Health around what protocols may be required should any further level changes take place – the key is we have time to plan, so have been doing it,” Beddie says.

“New Zealand’s industry has not been without its problems because of covid. There are huge challenges due to the lease and availability of spaces of which to work out of with many smaller providers working out of shared spaces which is a challenge in the current environment.”

ExerciseNZ has surveyed its key industry leaders asking them what they believe Kiwis should do to be more physically active this year. Here are a few of their answers:

Rebecca Harford, Christchurch trainer and studio owner of an award-winning facility: “The industry has had a big knock due to covid. It has inspired some to think outside of the box and really rethink how they were providing services, pricing how to manage memberships and more. I think as our industry is predominantly sub-contractor relationships, this has really been challenged whether in the current environment with the government support whether this is the best way for the industry to manage its employment relationships. There still appears to be a lack of public understanding of the value of exercise professionals in the general community compared to other treatment providers in the allied health realm.”

Lynda Lovatt personal trainer focusing on women during pregnancy post-delivery and in midlife, from Wellington: “People are well aware of the importance of primary health promotion and using exercise as medicine to prevent the onset of disease and dysfunction. That is certainly why I changed career from registered nurse to fitness professional. as I wanted to promote health though exercise.”

Kiwis are not as active as most think. Obesity epidemic is gripping New Zealand which also has a physical inactivity crisis, being the 13th worst in the world – and the worst for children with only 10 percent meeting World Health Organisation guidelines.

Exercise is 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.

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188