PolyActive is pumping

June 2021


It’s about moving, having fun and improving health; you can go at your own pace, and it’s free!


PolyActive in Flaxmere West has taken off in its first couple of months, growing to six classes a week to keep up with the ever-growing numbers.

The reason for its popularity has to be the passion and vision of the team behind the initiative. Each has specialities they bring to the table: Sage Fomia taking PolyStep, Cilla Tuala-Fata - PolyFiva, Victoria Fuata’i – PolySway, Vili Malaitai - PolySweat, Kavana Ioane - PolyActive Kids and marketing, and making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time is Sharon Malaitai.

Tasi le loto; Tasi tatou – One heart; One community is the mantra, says Vili. “Every one of us wants to help set up our people for success and build a vibrant, healthy, connected community. We want to do our bit to help get rid of the barriers that stop us from being part of something that is fun and good for our health – moving.”

The timing was perfect, in all sorts of ways. Vili, a qualified gym instructor who is in his second year of his Sport and Exercise Science degree, and his wife Sharon were looking to set something up that would help develop healthy habits in a way the Pasifika community would embrace; Kavana, a teacher aide at Te Kura o Kimi Ora, was thinking along similar lines and thought the new school hall would be a perfect place for it; and there was a little bit of seed-funding available. A few phone calls and catch-ups later with the equally passionate wider group, and it was all on.

One barrier to exercise is often cost, says Vili, so the classes are free. A second is accessibility; “so we needed to hold the classes somewhere our community could easily get to”. That made the school in Flaxmere West perfect. A third is lack of confidence and body-size embarrassment, so rather than focus on ‘fit’, the mantra is about movement – adding ‘active’ to the week in a way that is fun, non-judgemental, and not fit-focused.

“Fit can be scary; it makes people think of gyms and hard workouts. This is not what the programme is about.”

There is a healthy living element, with the team weaving messages into the classes on healthy eating and the benefits health brings: things like lowering the risk of stroke and diabetes. And there are so many more ideas bubbling away, including PolyKids (the first one held at an open day in June), and an on-line move class for those who can’t get to the sessions. “Covid taught us that there are so many ways that we can connect with each other, especially the house-bound,” says Vili.

For now, the focus is on getting as many of the community involved as possible – from pepe to matua. To help with that, an open day was held on the first Saturday in June (the classes are normally during the week), with well over 100 people turning up to have a go, says Sharon.

“We had a lot of new faces and we had families bringing along their visiting family members from outside of Hawke’s Bay. The feedback was incredible from our local participants, plus our families from outside of the Bay begged us to bring it to Auckland and other regions. It was a huge success, bringing families together to participate. I can’t express the happiness that we saw on Saturday.”


THE CLASSES:

PolyFiva: Low impact dance class.

PolySway: A little bit of a step up in intensity from PolyFiva.

PolyStep: A fun step class a level up from Fiva and Sway.

PolySweat: High intensity interval training. Involves plyometric, cardio, strength and functional movement; go at your own pace.


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