From couch potato to exercise evangelist

Daphne Hay is preaching the word about exercise and setting an example for her whanau. She talks to Justine Tyerman about ‘strutting her stuff and shaking her booty’.

Daphne Hay is preaching the word about exercise and setting an example for her whanau. She talks to Justine Tyerman about ‘strutting her stuff and shaking her booty’.

WATCHFUL EYE: Daphne Hay (right) at the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club gym with Sport Gisborne Active Health manager Toni Hoskin.
THERAPEUTIC: Daphne says whenever she’s feeling low, she looks at the ocean. ‘It’s very healing for me,’ she says. Pictures by Liam Clayton
EXPERT ADVICE: Sport Gisborne Active Health manager Toni Hoskin works with Daphne Hay at the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club gym.

DAPHNE Hay used to get in the car to drive to her dad’s place five houses away, and the dairy, half a block away.

She even found it hard to walk to the mailbox without running out of breath.

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” says the 56-year-old Gisborne woman.

“Then I lost my job due to ill-health which really knocked me for six.”

Daphne became a “couch potato” and her health deteriorated even further.

“I was down in the dumps and became sad, angry and depressed,” she says.

Daphne eventually took herself off to the doctor and, by chance, saw a locum who was filling in for her regular GP.

“He had a hunch I might have an undiagnosed heart condition . . . and he was right. My heart was functioning at 35 percent capacity which is why I was so breathless,” she says.

After umpteen tests, scans and the fitting of a pacemaker in July 2016, Daphne was referred under the Green Prescription scheme to the Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes by her cardiac nurse at Tui Te Ora.

Fast forward eight months and Daphne is a different woman. The “couch potato” is now a radiant exercise evangelist and a strong advocate for the Green Prescription.

A woman who had not set foot in a gym for 36 years and by her own admission was exercise-phobic, Daphne has completed two eight-week Toi Ora Embrace Life courses at the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club gym under the watchful eye of Sport Gisborne Active Health manager Toni Hoskin and Midlands Health registered nurse Jade Robertson.

Not only can she walk to the mailbox, her dad’s house and the dairy, Daphne has lost 7kg through exercise alone, without even adjusting her diet.

She’s now swimming and doing aqua fitness to lose more weight and build up the strength in her legs before she tackles her next goal — climbing Kaiti Hill.

One nemesis remains

Daphne confesses that one nemesis remains.

“I’ve been a smoker since I was 16 but I’ve vowed to give it up by my 57th birthday, August 29 . . . and I don’t mind if you put that in print!” she says laughing.

“I’m finding the more exercise I do and the more I keep my hands, mind and body occupied, the less I smoke. I’m getting endorphins through exercise rather than cigarettes.

“I have a whole new lease on life,” she says, beaming.

I asked Daphne why the classes have been so successful for her.

“There’s great camaraderie here with others who also have heart and breathing problems,” she says.

“And the support from Jade, the nurse, gave me confidence. I hadn’t exercised for a long time and was frightened.

“But Jade checked our heart rates and blood pressure and monitored what we did to make sure we were safe.

“I’ve also learned how to breathe deeply through my abdomen and to slow down my brain. My mind has always been ahead of my body but I’ve learned to stop and think before acting.

“Speakers came in to talk to us about diet and healthy eating, medication and even sex. Life does not have to stop due to a heart condition,” she says.

Daphne has high praise for Toni Hoskin.

“Toni is awesome. She’s my best friend. Whenever I want to quit due to back pain, another of my health problems, she finds a way to adapt an exercise so I can carry on. She’s very encouraging.

“I love the environment at the Waikanae gym. The view of the sea is so therapeutic. Whenever I’m feeling low, I come to look at the ocean. It’s very healing for me.

“I’d recommend this place and this programme to anyone.”

In fact, she already has — five minutes later, in walks her uncle ready to start his eight-week path to better fitness, one of many whanau she has encouraged to get on to the Green Prescription and “embrace life”.

So now Daphne, the former couch potato, is preaching the word about exercise and setting an example for her whanau.

“These days, I’m a mover, strutting my stuff and shaking my booty,” she says.

“There’s a huge amount of support and encouragement here. I’m amazed at the progress I’ve made, and we have a lot of fun together, laughing at ourselves.”

Embracing life

Sport Gisborne Active Health manager Toni Hoskin talks to Justine Tyerman about the success of the Toi Ora Embrace Life Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes.

The gym at Waikanae Surf Lifesaving Club is not just the exclusive domain of the young and the fit.

Twice a week the place is abuzz with people of all ages, walks of life and levels of fitness, striving to improve their lung and heart health.

It’s the venue for the Toi Ora Embrace Life Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes run by Pinnacle Midlands Health registered nurse Jade Robertson and health and fitness experts Toni Hoskin and Steve Allen from Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti.

Healthy Heart is a cardiac rehabilitation programme for people recovering from a cardiac event such as a heart attack, by-pass surgery or heart valve replacement, while Better Breathing is a pulmonary rehabilitation programme for those who have conditions that affect breathing like lung cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).

The classes, tailored and personalised for both groups, take place four times a year for eight weeks at a time.

The programme began about eight years ago at the hospital physio department. Five or six years ago it moved to the community to encourage access, says Active Health manager Toni Hoskin.

It’s now so successful, they have to try to keep the numbers down . . . not up, she says.

Prior to starting classes, clients are often referred to the Green Prescription programme which enables Toni and Steve to get to know them, establish a relationship and get them started on the right exercise path.

Then nurse Jade visits participants to conduct an initial assessment and talk about clinical and lifestyle goals.

“We do a few assessments before and after the eight-week programme which allows people to plot their progress. They often get a pleasant surprise to see how far they have come throughout the programme.”

Each session has an exercise and an educational component delivered by experts such as Jade, Toni, Steve, a pharmacist, counsellors and dietitians.

“We see people of all ages and all walks of life — relatively young workers, businessmen, retirees, grannies, townies and people from the Coast.”

Travel assistance

Participants from the East Coast are eligible for assistance with transport by means of travel vouchers.

“By week three, you would think they had been together for months — there’s lots of laughter and banter and bonding due to a shared purpose,” she says.

“People are amazed at how quickly their strength and fitness improves, how much fun they have and how supported and accepted they feel in both programmes.”

The success of the classes is due to the relaxed, non-threatening environment, she says.

“For some, a gym is an intimidating place. Most of our clients have never set foot in a gym before so they are blown away by the environment at Waikanae.”

Over time, Toni sees them relax and gain movement confidence.

“We just use the ‘friendly equipment’ — treadmills, bikes, brightly-coloured dumbbells and resistance bands. No big weight racks or complex machinery.

“We really ensure each movement has a purpose and they understand that.

“New movements are introduced gradually and many alternatives are provided to ensure all abilities are catered for.

“Our participants feel understood and never judged.”

In the Better Breathing sessions, participants learn how to breathe properly and recognise when panicky breathing sets in, there are strategies to manage it.

“Some people come to us in a state of despair, especially those with severe CPOD — they can’t breathe properly so they end up doing less and stop going out for fear of not being able to rest. Consequently, they lose condition, fitness and confidence which turns into a downward spiral.

“Many participants notice a significant improvement in their breathing after just a couple of weeks and are able to do tasks they haven’t done in years.

“People see practical improvements that make a big difference to their lives. They feel they can contribute to household chores again and look after their mokopuna.

“One woman was unable to prepare a meal standing at her kitchen bench without having to stop and rest. She’s now able to prepare a full meal without needing a break.

Cardiac event

“After a cardiac event, people often feel really uncertain about what type and degree of exercise is appropriate. We put heart rate monitors on them so that we can can keep a close eye on them, and we teach them how to listen to their bodies.

“After six weeks, when they have learned to trust themselves to read the messages from their bodies, we take the monitors off.

Another positive outcome of the classes is the follow-on programme at the YMCA.

“I got together with the fitness manager at YMCA and talked about how we could enhance the sustainability of the progress made over the eight weeks,” says Toni.

“As a result, the YMCA set up a circuit class every Monday modelled on the format used in the Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes, which is now well attended by our ‘graduates’.”

The class is delivered by a trained instructor and friends and whanau are welcome to attend too.

“The great thing about the Green Prescription is that people can continue to be supported after they have completed the eight-week programme with us.

“We maintain contact with them, to make sure they are connecting with things that are helpful and meaningful in their wellness journey.”

DAPHNE Hay used to get in the car to drive to her dad’s place five houses away, and the dairy, half a block away.

She even found it hard to walk to the mailbox without running out of breath.

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” says the 56-year-old Gisborne woman.

“Then I lost my job due to ill-health which really knocked me for six.”

Daphne became a “couch potato” and her health deteriorated even further.

“I was down in the dumps and became sad, angry and depressed,” she says.

Daphne eventually took herself off to the doctor and, by chance, saw a locum who was filling in for her regular GP.

“He had a hunch I might have an undiagnosed heart condition . . . and he was right. My heart was functioning at 35 percent capacity which is why I was so breathless,” she says.

After umpteen tests, scans and the fitting of a pacemaker in July 2016, Daphne was referred under the Green Prescription scheme to the Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes by her cardiac nurse at Tui Te Ora.

Fast forward eight months and Daphne is a different woman. The “couch potato” is now a radiant exercise evangelist and a strong advocate for the Green Prescription.

A woman who had not set foot in a gym for 36 years and by her own admission was exercise-phobic, Daphne has completed two eight-week Toi Ora Embrace Life courses at the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club gym under the watchful eye of Sport Gisborne Active Health manager Toni Hoskin and Midlands Health registered nurse Jade Robertson.

Not only can she walk to the mailbox, her dad’s house and the dairy, Daphne has lost 7kg through exercise alone, without even adjusting her diet.

She’s now swimming and doing aqua fitness to lose more weight and build up the strength in her legs before she tackles her next goal — climbing Kaiti Hill.

One nemesis remains

Daphne confesses that one nemesis remains.

“I’ve been a smoker since I was 16 but I’ve vowed to give it up by my 57th birthday, August 29 . . . and I don’t mind if you put that in print!” she says laughing.

“I’m finding the more exercise I do and the more I keep my hands, mind and body occupied, the less I smoke. I’m getting endorphins through exercise rather than cigarettes.

“I have a whole new lease on life,” she says, beaming.

I asked Daphne why the classes have been so successful for her.

“There’s great camaraderie here with others who also have heart and breathing problems,” she says.

“And the support from Jade, the nurse, gave me confidence. I hadn’t exercised for a long time and was frightened.

“But Jade checked our heart rates and blood pressure and monitored what we did to make sure we were safe.

“I’ve also learned how to breathe deeply through my abdomen and to slow down my brain. My mind has always been ahead of my body but I’ve learned to stop and think before acting.

“Speakers came in to talk to us about diet and healthy eating, medication and even sex. Life does not have to stop due to a heart condition,” she says.

Daphne has high praise for Toni Hoskin.

“Toni is awesome. She’s my best friend. Whenever I want to quit due to back pain, another of my health problems, she finds a way to adapt an exercise so I can carry on. She’s very encouraging.

“I love the environment at the Waikanae gym. The view of the sea is so therapeutic. Whenever I’m feeling low, I come to look at the ocean. It’s very healing for me.

“I’d recommend this place and this programme to anyone.”

In fact, she already has — five minutes later, in walks her uncle ready to start his eight-week path to better fitness, one of many whanau she has encouraged to get on to the Green Prescription and “embrace life”.

So now Daphne, the former couch potato, is preaching the word about exercise and setting an example for her whanau.

“These days, I’m a mover, strutting my stuff and shaking my booty,” she says.

“There’s a huge amount of support and encouragement here. I’m amazed at the progress I’ve made, and we have a lot of fun together, laughing at ourselves.”

Embracing life

Sport Gisborne Active Health manager Toni Hoskin talks to Justine Tyerman about the success of the Toi Ora Embrace Life Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes.

The gym at Waikanae Surf Lifesaving Club is not just the exclusive domain of the young and the fit.

Twice a week the place is abuzz with people of all ages, walks of life and levels of fitness, striving to improve their lung and heart health.

It’s the venue for the Toi Ora Embrace Life Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes run by Pinnacle Midlands Health registered nurse Jade Robertson and health and fitness experts Toni Hoskin and Steve Allen from Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti.

Healthy Heart is a cardiac rehabilitation programme for people recovering from a cardiac event such as a heart attack, by-pass surgery or heart valve replacement, while Better Breathing is a pulmonary rehabilitation programme for those who have conditions that affect breathing like lung cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).

The classes, tailored and personalised for both groups, take place four times a year for eight weeks at a time.

The programme began about eight years ago at the hospital physio department. Five or six years ago it moved to the community to encourage access, says Active Health manager Toni Hoskin.

It’s now so successful, they have to try to keep the numbers down . . . not up, she says.

Prior to starting classes, clients are often referred to the Green Prescription programme which enables Toni and Steve to get to know them, establish a relationship and get them started on the right exercise path.

Then nurse Jade visits participants to conduct an initial assessment and talk about clinical and lifestyle goals.

“We do a few assessments before and after the eight-week programme which allows people to plot their progress. They often get a pleasant surprise to see how far they have come throughout the programme.”

Each session has an exercise and an educational component delivered by experts such as Jade, Toni, Steve, a pharmacist, counsellors and dietitians.

“We see people of all ages and all walks of life — relatively young workers, businessmen, retirees, grannies, townies and people from the Coast.”

Travel assistance

Participants from the East Coast are eligible for assistance with transport by means of travel vouchers.

“By week three, you would think they had been together for months — there’s lots of laughter and banter and bonding due to a shared purpose,” she says.

“People are amazed at how quickly their strength and fitness improves, how much fun they have and how supported and accepted they feel in both programmes.”

The success of the classes is due to the relaxed, non-threatening environment, she says.

“For some, a gym is an intimidating place. Most of our clients have never set foot in a gym before so they are blown away by the environment at Waikanae.”

Over time, Toni sees them relax and gain movement confidence.

“We just use the ‘friendly equipment’ — treadmills, bikes, brightly-coloured dumbbells and resistance bands. No big weight racks or complex machinery.

“We really ensure each movement has a purpose and they understand that.

“New movements are introduced gradually and many alternatives are provided to ensure all abilities are catered for.

“Our participants feel understood and never judged.”

In the Better Breathing sessions, participants learn how to breathe properly and recognise when panicky breathing sets in, there are strategies to manage it.

“Some people come to us in a state of despair, especially those with severe CPOD — they can’t breathe properly so they end up doing less and stop going out for fear of not being able to rest. Consequently, they lose condition, fitness and confidence which turns into a downward spiral.

“Many participants notice a significant improvement in their breathing after just a couple of weeks and are able to do tasks they haven’t done in years.

“People see practical improvements that make a big difference to their lives. They feel they can contribute to household chores again and look after their mokopuna.

“One woman was unable to prepare a meal standing at her kitchen bench without having to stop and rest. She’s now able to prepare a full meal without needing a break.

Cardiac event

“After a cardiac event, people often feel really uncertain about what type and degree of exercise is appropriate. We put heart rate monitors on them so that we can can keep a close eye on them, and we teach them how to listen to their bodies.

“After six weeks, when they have learned to trust themselves to read the messages from their bodies, we take the monitors off.

Another positive outcome of the classes is the follow-on programme at the YMCA.

“I got together with the fitness manager at YMCA and talked about how we could enhance the sustainability of the progress made over the eight weeks,” says Toni.

“As a result, the YMCA set up a circuit class every Monday modelled on the format used in the Healthy Heart and Better Breathing programmes, which is now well attended by our ‘graduates’.”

The class is delivered by a trained instructor and friends and whanau are welcome to attend too.

“The great thing about the Green Prescription is that people can continue to be supported after they have completed the eight-week programme with us.

“We maintain contact with them, to make sure they are connecting with things that are helpful and meaningful in their wellness journey.”

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