Stay Fit in Ski Season - Brendon Fox

8 July 2020

Skiing into winter

Living in Wanaka means a natural love of the mountains. From many a window, we’re lucky to be able to gaze up at the snow draped mountains, anticipating that first run of the season and the woosh woosh of skis through fresh powder.

With the slopes now open for business, many of us will be strapping on our boots and heading to the hills the first chance we get. But in the worst-case scenario, the outing can be marred with the niggle of an old injury or worse yet, coming off the mountain in worse shape than when you first arrived. PROACTIVE24 Personal Trainer, Brendon Fox is a keen skier and boarder, and knows all too well the frustration of being kept off the chairs or tied to the piste because of injury or fear of a fall. Here, the experienced trainer shares his tips for a top season.

Growing up in Dunedin, Brendon attended Otago Boys’ High and Otago University, where he studied commerce. Training as a chef in his early 20s, Brendon then moved to Sydney in 2000, starting his long career in personal training, initially qualifying with a Cert 3 in PT and then Cert 4 soon after. “I also studied Thai massage, Paul Chek, foam roller and myofascial release among many other things along the journey,” Brendon says. “I moved back to New Zealand when the kids were young, as I didn’t want them to be Wallabies supporters. I took a break from PT and bought an HRV franchise in the North Island, but Wanaka was calling and so was the fitness industry.”

Among his sessions, Brendon loves to share his knowledge of nutrition, cooking, motivation techniques and training. Having skied up until 2000, Brendon considered himself a die-hard Treble Cone man until he found the freedom of boarding. With two kids in tow; 16-year-old Vale (a skier) and 10-year-old Tane (a boarder) as well as skier wife, Sarah, being on the slopes in winter is a whole family affair.

“Some of the most common - and avoidable - injuries on the slopes that we see back in the gym include knee injuries, back injuries, shoulder injuries and wrist injuries,” Brendon says. “Many of these can be avoided, or if injury occurs, the recovery can be sped up by training specifically for your chosen snow sport. Motivation to train is really important. If you break your year into easily manageable parts and organise your training around key events like ski season or summer sports, then it’s easier to stay focused on your general health and wellbeing.”

Brendon says that whether you’re a professional on the slopes or a weekend punter, a snow specific training program is essential. “Ideally, you’d start least 12 weeks out,” he says. “This includes six weeks of balance, stability, coordination and postural alignment, followed by six weeks of strength training.” However, if you’ve left it too late for this season’s run, there’s always more you can do. “In season I like to work on my explosive power with targeted plyometrics and power lifting. You can always be stronger and more able to adapt to conditions.”

Some of the most important aspects of fitness that can help avoid injuries include strong legs. “This includes lunges, squats, leg press - you name it, do it and do it hard. The stronger you are leading in, the better prepared you are for injury prevention,” he says. “Number two is a strong back. Deadlifts, bent row and seated rows are just an example. The third most important thing is to stay lean. If you’re 20kg overweight, then that can hurt when you’re tumbling down a hill. Train like a professional and have more fun.”

Brendon says while the PROACTIVE24 team is always ready to assist, some of the greatest ways to prepare for a winter season is available to all locals for free. “Walk or run the mountains,” he says. “Not only is it good for Mario fitness, I love how it works my legs and challenges my balance and stability; you might also see me squatting on a stability ball from time to time.”

As for his favourite local runs, Brendon isn’t too prejudiced. “I don't really have a favourite run; it’s all about who you’re with. I can have just as much fun on a green run with a good mate as I can on a double black run,” he says. “I love the vibe at Cardrona; the staff are super friendly and it’s a fun place to hang. As I’m a non-drinker I don't really go out much. I’m a fan of Big Fig for lunch, but I can’t go past a spa at home followed by a home cooked meal and some friend and family time.”


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.”

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