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Men's Fitness, or lack of?

“Sit up straight!”

“Shoulders back!!”

“Eat your vegetables!!!”

His demands at the family dinner table of my youth resonate with me and affected my choice to stay in the health industry. Dad was the biggest cheerleader for me being ‘sporty’, he was a ambitiously successful man with very high standards, but ironically, he stopped caring for his physical health and he (and his grandchildren) never got to appreciate his old age because of it.

Is his story indicative of the male attitude to health? Does the ‘kiwi bloke’ culture ignore male mental and physical health, until we get a wake-up call, or it’s too late?

The proof is in the stats. Statistics NZ claims one causative effect to us ladies outliving our male counterparts is that we are more focused on preventative health, (NB: reason here is not stated and l feel is important to investigate - vanity, social needs, mental health, other?). Women visit their doctor 33% more than men do on average and 28% of men in NZ do not have a regular GP. This of course leads to cases of men neglecting minor health problems for too long which complicates treatment and provides fewer options for recovery down the track.

My dad was great at putting out potential fires early, but he was in pain years before seeking medical help. He died of bowel cancer just before 50yrs, 4 mths after diagnosis. It’s a conundrum, how to we encourage men to adopt healthier lifestyles, seek help so that they can live longer, and preserve their youthful va-va-voom?!

It's not my intention to be doom and gloom, but male suicide rates are also higher than woman, with most being between the ages of 15 – 19yrs. In 21/22 financial year, males were 14.9% per 100,000, as a contrast to the female 5.5%.

Hear me out here, but is fear a player in the struggle to make lifestyle changes for better health?

The group element of fitness training can often deter males from attending, the fear of appearing weak in front of others, fear of failing, being inflexible or their perception that men should be strong and therefore don’t need to address that nagging knee, protruding beer belly or hunched posture. For example, pilates has often (and to my immense frustration) been perceived as a ‘feminine’ activity; yet ironically its main benefits – Improved posture, increased core strength, injury prevention, stability and flexibility – are outcomes that would significantly, and positively, impact male health in later years. And although we have male instructors and male clients practicing pilates and beginner yoga at Soulsprite, we’d love to help more!

With over 25 years experience in the fitness industry we designed our local family owned studio to factor in the whole family, dads, grand-dads and teen boys included. Our mission statement is ‘we have a romantic and achievable notion of making every ‘body’ feel spritely’, a shared philosophy through all our specialist coaching team. Creating healthier family units is close to my heart, and particularly welcoming the sometimes reluctant, frequently overworked and always time poor males.

We hope to break down the preconceived idea that small-group fitness classes for men is something to be feared. Indeed, the opposite is true – SoulSprite’s inclusive classes provide both males and females the opportunity to improve their physical health in a relaxed, uncompetitive and social environment.

SoulSprite offers small group classes in TRX Strength training, Boxing, Pilates, Yoga, Kettlebell, Spin and Stretch & Mobility classes with the addition of healthy Challenges and private Personal Training. To book your free tour or intro deal, log on to and experience how your body and mind can feel ‘spritely’ too.

Kate Walden (Director, Soulsprite)

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