3 June 2020

PROACTIVE24 is more than just a gym; it’s a community. Within its village are a range of health professionals that service more than just fitness, but also a holistic sense of wellbeing that caters to every facet of our community’s lives. PROACTIVE24 is incredibly proud of the calibre of its tenants who all call the fitness centre home. From keeping pearly whites even whiter, to energy work to massage, every tenant at Proactive 24 helps our clients to lead their best lives – proving the gym as a one stop health and wellness shop for the wider Wanaka community. Here, we delve a little into the people behind the brands that operate from the Proactive 24 space.

Katherine Geremia is the face behind the The Bright Smile Co and Maven Brow Bar. Referring to herself as a ‘Canawi’ (Canadian/Kiwi) Katherine has been coming to Wanaka her whole life to visit family, as her mother was born and raised locally. She has now lived here permanently for more than four years and loves the lifestyle that the town offers.

“I’m a practicing Dental Hygienist in the Central Otago area and have always had a passion for working with my patients to maintain healthy oral hygiene. This was the driving force behind starting my own professional teeth whitening company,” Katherine explains. “There are a lot of teeth whitening options out there and it is so important to protect yourself by going to a trained dental professional. I take a lot of pride in offering over 14 years’ experience in the dental field to help my clients love their bright smile again! I offer professional teeth whitening treatment, the same you would have in a dental office, but without the dental office price tag.”

But why stop at just the smile? Katherine also works her magic with a brow, lash and nails service. “I have a love for fashion, make-up and a keen eye for the finer details and that has led me to complete extensive national and international training for beauty therapy services that I’m interested in and passionate about,” she says. “I’ve been providing these services for over four years and just love making my clients feel good about themselves! I feel as though all of my clients are family, and I love meeting new people on a daily basis.”


Massage therapist, Megan Burke is a country girl born and raised on a farm at Lee Stream near Dunedin. Living between Canada, Queenstown, Ranfurly and Dunedin in recent years, Megan and her husband settled in Wanaka in January this year. “We’re here because we’re mountain and lake people, not coastal people!” Megan says. “My husband and our boys are keen outdoor guys who love hunting, fishing and hiking. My daughter and I love the peaceful feeling you get in Central Otago.”

Megan gained her Certificate in Spa Therapies and Stress Management Level 5 in 2014, then a Diploma in Advanced Therapeutic Massage Level 6 in 2015, as well as further qualifications in Dry Needling, Fascial Release, hot stone massage and Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD).

“I'm very drawn to this modality as it is so light and gentle yet very powerful. Many people may associate MLD as a treatment for people who have conditions such as Lymphoedema or other fluid retention issues but I'm trying to change that; I want all to know that anyone and everyone can and should get MLD on a regular basis,” she says. “Why? Because our world is more toxic than ever before, our stress levels are high, the pace of life is crazy and as much as you can try to lead a healthy lifestyle, lymphatic fluid can become stagnant and Manual Lymphatic drainage can help get that fluid moving again. Basically, if your lymphatic system is not flash then the rest of your body won't be coping as it affects every other system in the body. Benefits from MLD treatment include increased energy, decreased chronic pain and inflammation, reduced symptoms of hay fever and sinus issues, less fluid retention and bloating, deeper and more restful sleep, a boosted immune system, decreased period pain and menopause symptoms. The list goes on!”


Finally, holistic healer, Brittney Barber originally hails from Australia’s Perth. She was first introduced to reiki in Fernie, BC at the beginning of 2019, before moving to Wanaka in June of the same year.

“The spring of 2019 was a particularly hard time for me. I was severely depressed and anxious. I was suffering from grief and a hopelessness I had never experienced before. If it wasn't for some key Wanaka locals that made sure I felt safe, kept a roof over my head and a compassionate ear and heart, I wouldn't be here still,” she says. “The summer was a game changer. I began to see how driven the locals of Wanaka are. I call them Earth and Fire alchemists, as the people here manifest their dreams with certainty and grounded stability. Not only that but the support of the community as a whole is spectacular. It was the Wanakians that inspired me to put myself out there as an energy healer and spiritual counsellor. I just want to give back the compassion and support that was shown to me.”


Brittney started her business, Dare to Ignite as her chance to give back. After graduating as a health coach in 2015, Brittney offers reiki healing and spiritual guidance sessions. “Dare to Ignite is about discovering your magic and then developing your authentic magic to help you live a fuller and more fun filled, loving life,” she says. “For many years, I always wanted a space to feel safe, to heal, to learn, to be creative, but at the time I couldn't afford it. I’m now offering a ‘pay what you want’ cost structure for both my services and room hire going into Level 2 Restrictions. I just want people to experience and create an energy that the space deserves; a place for the community of near and far alike to find a home away from home when they need time to reflect, grow or create, without being too pricey or restrictive. Being open 24/7 and the flexibility is a wonderful perk, especially for those who need a space to relax and feel safe to express themselves at 2am if they need it.”






Mens Health - Aaron Callaghan

29 April 2020

It’s a topic that is broached by every man and his dog; what is the definition of health for men and how do we achieve it? With so much information out there dominating Instagram, Facebook, websites, blogs and magazines, it can be a bamboozling foray for the average bloke. Proactive24 personal trainer, Aaron

Callaghan, has more than two decades in the fitness game and says as his coaching style has evolved, so too has his definition of health and success.

The topic of men’s health is a veritable minefield. With contradictory advice at every corner and pictures of bulging biceps and defined abs emblazoned across mainstream media, it’s no wonder a sense of failure dogs at the heels of the average bloke when it comes to defining their own health. To keto, or not to keto? To lift weights, get into HIIT, intermittent fast or eat only protein? It’s enough to make most take cover behind a tin of Pringles and a stubby or four.

When it comes to defining health, it truly depends on who you ask. A medical doctor has a set of metrics that differs vastly from that of a psychologist or your mate Dave from golf. The general definition of health, the state of being free from illness or injury, is fine and dandy for those just looking at the physical, but what about the emotional, mental and spiritual elements? When changing the lens from a purely physiological perspective, things tend to get away from the black and white and a little more into the grey.

Having represented New Zealand as a junior gymnast, playing rugby professionally and working as a coach and personal trainer for more than two decades, Proactive24 personal trainer Aaron Callaghan understands perhaps better than most the evolution of the definition of men’s health. No longer is it constrained to simply numbers on a scale or what you look like in your boardies but now, it takes into account your relationship with your family, with stress and with that particularly hard nut to crack; the old work-life-balance.

The coach is passionate about helping his clients to build awareness around their goals and set sustainable, achievable intentions. “There needs to be more intention and awareness when it comes to our conversation around men’s health,” he says. “We’re not having the right conversations early enough. I think it is changing but traditionally, there has always been a lot more focus of women talking to women in health. One of the big issues I feel that’s not being discussed is that a lot of our issues from a mental health point of view are created when we’re little boys. We need a generational shift. Men who are now fathers of boys need to change the narrative. Don’t tell them to harden up when they fall over and hurt their knee or when they’re frustrated. Let’s encourage them to express their emotions, context and situation specific, and encourage them to have conversations. How are you feeling? How does it feel in your body? What’s the action needed? Hopefully, by the time they get to 20 years old, they don’t have to go drink 500 beers or mask it with substances, food or fighting.”

Having studied with some of the best fitness and wellbeing coaches and advocates in the world, Aaron brings a wealth of knowledge to his position; looking to coach the individual on a holistic level rather than as a sum of their parts. Looking beyond just the physical, he says the key to lasting health is tailoring awareness for each and every client, so the intention and subsequent process behind their strategy is entirely unique to them and their contextual situation. “We tend to put things into a box, but there has to be a discussion around N = 1; creating a discussion around that individual is the biggest starting point for any opportunity for change,” he says. “I like my clients to write down five or six things that are important to them. For example, this might be exercise, mental health, relationships, sex life or nutrition. They then have a list of what is meaningful for them, which will change over their 20s, 30s, 40s and so on. Then it’s a case of doing a quick score of one to 10; 10 being perfect and 1 being a disaster. You’ve then got a baseline of understanding of what your health looks like; not the definition of health from someone else. Then it’s a case of looking at how they could improve. Say, stress is a four. What could we do to move it to an eight, looking at the whole picture in a sustainable, achievable way?”

Aaron’s success with his clients continually comes back to his ability to build a relationship with them; fostering their intentions and helping them to build healthier habits. “I’m trying to build in a lot of behavioural change measures, using research based, motivational interviewing techniques. I like to create a framework so they can understand the science around habit formation; how bad habits sneak in and what you can do to change it,” he says. “It’s about consciously looking at the trigger, the habit and the reward and how that cycle perpetrates in your life what’s needs to break it or enhance it.” The personal trainer says that life is about being aware of what you want to channel most of your energy at one time; whether it’s that six-pack, managing work stress, staving off a heart attack, recovering after surgery or building a relationship with your kids. “You can have it all, but you've got to be very strategic,” he says. “There's a time and place for everything.”

Darryn Wilkie

12 March 2020

The new decade has ushered in a new chapter for Proactive 24, with Dunedin based businessman Darryn Wilkie taking over the helm as the gym’s owner as of February 2020. In this month’s blog, we sit down with Darryn to delve into how he made the leap from construction to fitness and the advice he gives to those looking to own their own business.

It’s not the most conventional professional path, but Darryn Wilkie is no stranger to taking on new industries. Formerly in construction, the businessman and his wife Hanna had been looking for a business to invest in for 18-months before buying Proactive 24 in December 2019. “We looked at 25 different businesses in a range of sectors and industries, several of which were in the health and wellness sector,” Darryn says. “We started the process of due diligence mid last year and offered for the business alongside six others. By December last year we were confirmed the unconditional purchaser and officially took over February 3rd.”

The entrepreneur is no stranger to taking on new challenges. In 2012, Darryn bought the Landmark Home franchise for central Otago, covering Queenstown, Cromwell and Wanaka. The business, offering both architecturally designed and in-house designed homes, was in poor shape when Wilkie got his hands on it. “In 2012, New Zealand was still in recession but for us it was a good time to come into the industry and slowly build it up. From 2014, things really started to take off again in Central Otago,” he says. “Wanaka was growing but it was lot smaller than it is now. However, I could definitely sense the potential for growth in the town.”

His professional life has been one of many twists and turns. Growing up in Dunedin, Wilkie studied economics and marketing before scoring a graduate job with BNZ as a personal banker. Within 2 1/2 years he made the jump to the business side to work as a business manager. “It was interesting working for a corporate and I ended up working for them for four and half years,” he says. “I had always wanted to do an OE so I then decided it was time to head off overseas. I went to London for nearly three years, starting in the construction industry. I started off working for a large building company in a telesales role which turned into an account manager role. I loved the diversity day to day and the diversity of clients in different sub industries. I did lots of travelling and met lots of great people and I think matured a lot whilst I was there. I left as my visa ran out and it was time to come home and look at my options.”

In 2005 Darryn moved to Wanaka, working with his father’s joinery company before starting a position as an account manager with PlaceMakers. After another 10-month stint living and working in Canada, he settled in Queenstown and worked in the local PlaceMakers branch as an account manager & estimator. Finally, in 2012, after recently meeting his wife-to-be, he took on the Landmark Home Franchise. “My wife and I were married in 2014 and spent the next three years really building up our company,” he says. “We sold the franchise in 2017 and decided it was time to move back to Dunedin.” It was during this time that the couple found out they couldn’t have children. “We decided to go down the route of fostering and adoption,” he says. “We started to foster our son, Ford in July 2018 when he was seven years old.

While this is his first foray into the fitness industry, Darryn is confident that his knowledge across a diverse range of businesses will hold him in good stead. “I’ve had several businesses I’ve built up in the construction industry and I was managing a recruitment company for a year in Dunedin,” he says. “A lot of what you learn in business and starting your own business can be transferred across to a range of businesses. Wanaka has got massive growth numbers and is only going to continue to grow over the next 30 years. Health and wellness is an industry that benefits others. That’s why we chose to go down this road.”

He has been working closely with former owners Sue Richard and Haagan East to deepen his understanding of the sector, and has a strategic plan which factors in short and long term goals. “We want to build on the great things Sue and Haagan have done, including growing our membership numbers. We’re currently around 700 stable members and I’d like to grow that over the next five years to around 1500 members,” he says. “I’d like to build on the number of classes we do and we’re working really hard to build up our trainers and instructors. I’d love to see all of our studios booked out all the time! Especially with some different times, like early morning and evening classes. We’re also looking at doing body scans and working with a mobile body scan consultant. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening in the industry which we’d like to incorporate into the business.”

Darryn says his business values are paramount, and stay the same no matter the industry. “Your team is extremely important. You can’t do it all on your own, so you need very good people around you,” he says. “Having strong values and integrity is a big one for me; doing what you say you’re going to do, and being transparent and honest. Giving back to the community is another big thing for me. Once you’re established as a business you need to give back, whether in time, donations or letting people use the space for fundraisers. It’s really important in Wanaka because it’s still a small community.” His advice to those who are thinking about getting into business is simple. “Get out and do it. If you think you have an opportunity, take it by the horns and get into it,” he says. “However, make sure you’re doing you due diligence and bring the right advisors on board. If the industry is new to you, get the right expertise by getting a mentor, whether it’s a personal mentor or a business mentor. A good accountant, a good solicitor and a good business advisor are the top three people you need.”

Darryn takes his own health seriously, and has several non-negotiables which he taps into to ensure he stays at the top of his game. “I run three to four times a week, generally around five kilometres during the week and up to 10 kilometres on the weekends. I also do a little bit of mountain biking and I stretch every morning, with Pilates mobility exercises to keep my body flexible as I get older,” he says. “I try to make sure I’m getting at least six or seven hours of sleep a night and we eat well balanced meals. When you have a young kid it’s especially important to set a good example.”

The dynamic businessman will continue to commute from Dunedin to Wanaka every four weeks, with manager Steve Cockram and the front of house team holding down the day to day duties. “The big thing for us at the moment is we’re working really hard to build up the team; that’s our focus over the next four months,” he says. “We’ve been making some changes already like painting the carpark lines and sorting out some details like that which are immediately helpful to our members. We’re also looking to set up a direct debit system for our members. There’s lots of changes in the works, bubbling away in the background.”