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Fighting fit

Group of young sporty people standing at wall. Students taking a rest from fitness activity, time to recover strength, waiting for a lesson to start in loft studio, close up. Healthy lifestyle concept

Stepping into a gym for the first time can be daunting enough, but knowing which one is going to offer the answer to your fitness prayers is a whole other kettleball.

Words: Kate Preece


We gave a few of the many fitness options available in Christchurch a whirl to provide an insight into what it’s really like behind those big scary doors. But also, we spoke to the professionals, to get an idea of what all this gym jargon means, and how it’s going to work for what we need.

“To achieve any goal, you must attach meaning to it. It should inspire you and energise you to achieve it,” explains John Quinn, of the 100 per cent Project. What this means is instead of looking at the magic number you wish those scales to display, think about why you’re looking to do so in the first place: to live a happier life. “This moves us from having to, to wanting to and there is a big shift in mind-set.”

Right, we know why we’re looking to get our bodies moving, but next comes choosing how. Before you head to your nearest gym, says John, assess your goals – for tone, weights are good (as in HIIT or weight training); but if it’s about boosting your cardio capacity, cycling, swimming or running could be the answer.

“Always consult a professional when stepping into a gym and get a full assessment and talk through your goals with them. It is important that past or current injuries are taken into account and you are able to safely mange your training load while being overseen by a professional. Safety is paramount when trying anything new, so getting shown the correct techniques is essential to maximising your efficiency and avoiding unnecessary injuries. Too often we are looking for a quick fix but with fitness it is a long-term approach and consistency really is the key to achieving any goals,” advises John.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) seems to be the ‘it’ thing, with many of the newer kids on the block focusing on these workouts that take less time out of our busy lives. The broad term covers workouts that have short periods of intense exercise that alternate with recovery periods.

The key benefits of HITT:

  • It can help you lose fat – High-intensity intervals can produce similar fat loss to traditional endurance exercise, even with a much smaller time commitment. They can also reduce unhealthy visceral fat.
  • Boosts your metabolism – Due to the intensity of the workout, HIIT can elevate your metabolism for hours after exercise. This results in extra calories being burned even after you’ve finished exercising
  • Increase muscle mass – This is more likely to occur in individuals who were less active to begin with, however it doesn’t increase muscle mass as much as weight training does.
  • Improves oxygen consumption – Oxygen consumption refers to your muscles' ability to use oxygen, and endurance training is typically used to improve your oxygen consumption. Traditionally, this consists of long sessions of continuous running or cycling at a steady rate. However, it appears that HIIT can produce the same benefits in a shorter amount of time
  • Reduces heart rate and blood pressure – Research shows that HIIT can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals.

9Round Christchurch City

Specialised gym, fitness centre and health club.

A kickboxing-themed 30-minute fitness programme where every three minutes, after a 30-second ‘active rest period’, you move to a new station. The circuit is never the same.



Prior fitness level: Slim to non-existent

Goal: To get moving!

Commitment: Two months, three times a week.

Results: Noticeable effects on tone, strength and mood.


The most appealing aspects of 9Round, for me, were its kickboxing elements and non-existent class times. The latter key to fitting any form of exercise into the working-mum lifestyle.

‘Mountain climbers’ and ‘reverse flies’ were part of one very foreign language, and there was no way I could flip a tractor tyre. Yet, with a trainer always there to talk you through the two exercises at each of the nine stations, you can’t go wrong. And if you do, they’ll soon set you straight.

At a busy after-work session, there may be a few people waiting to get started, but my morning sessions were quiet, and quick – the only thing holding me up being conversations with the trainers. With one ‘freestyle’ with the trainer to run through boxing drills, there’s no way to not work up a sweat.

Friends of mine thought this would be a phase, but 9Round is never the same – bar the one round that’s set as the week’s challenge. I’ve been getting up early (unheard of), I feel better physically and mentally – and I can flip that tractor tyre, no sweat.

F45 Riccarton

High-intensity Circuit Training Studio

Each of the eight classes on offer combines functional training with high intensity interval training.



Prior fitness level: Reasonably fit and active

Goal: To find a group fitness that is fun and enjoyable, makes me go and want to work hard! I also enjoy variety and get bored easily.

Commitment: 10 months, twice a week

Results: Adding F45 to my fitness regime has kept my exercise interesting and I haven’t plateaued.


I first started F45 as friends from Brisbane were raving about it, and that was almost a year ago. It’s fun, you see results and know you have a structured class with exercises that have been put together by experts for the best results.

I only do the cardio F45, but believe this has lead to an increase in my overall cardio ability – plus I feel energised. Overall, I think F45 would suit anyone, although you’ve got to be careful with injuries, like any high impact exercise.

It is hugely popular and you do need to book for early morning classes. But the busier the classes are the more hype and then you tend to give it more!



“An all access gym provides the opportunity to move your body in more ways than one, however it is crucial you discuss what you are wishing to achieve with an expert in that area and get them to safely take you through the right techniques and elements of a gym,” says John.

Female Federation

Women’s Only Gym in Ferrymead

Features a wide range of strength and cardio equipment, classes, personal training and small group training, with 24/7 access.



Prior fitness level: Fairly active with a penchant for eating too many carbs.

Goal: To increase my fitness levels and work out enough to justify aforementioned carbs.

Commitment: Four months, attending twice a week on average.

Results: I genuinely enjoy a 6am Spin class, my fitness levels are the best they've been and I've adopted a far healthier lifestyle (for the most part).


I joined Female Federation a few months ago and, as with previous gym memberships, predicted I would visit just a few times a month, without ever really pushing myself. But just days after my orientation with owner Meg Bolderston, I was hooked and more motivated than ever as a result of the inspiring and enthusiastic ethos of the gym.

The female-only premise makes it an extremely comfortable space, in which gym newbies can experiment with weights and different equipment. The real magic happens in the studio, where each morning before work I’m able to attend a new, exciting class that feels less like a work out and more like a party. Classes include Spin, Zumba, Pump, Yoga, Circuit, BAT (bum, abs, thighs) Strength, HIIT, and Balance.

Being open 24 hours a day, rules out another excuse to get out of any potential workouts. For mums, a child-minding service comes as part of membership.

Yoga & Pilates

Pilates and yoga are great to incorporate into any fitness routine. Pilates is an exercise for all – no matter what age, stage or fitness level. It’s a form of exercise that’s easy on the back, gentle on joints and great for core strength. The merging of physical awareness and mental energy means it’s great for stress reduction, too. Adding yoga to your weekly routine can help transform your body, mind and soul. It can help enhance strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. But the benefits are far more than just physical, yoga can help reduce stress, curb cravings and improve our moods.” 


On Pointe Barre Studio

Home of Bootybarre in Christchurch

Offers a range of classes that fuse techniques from dance, Pilates, and yoga that will tone, define and chisel the whole body.



Prior fitness level: Low

Goal: To build muscle, become stronger and tone up without weight-loss.

Commitment: Trialled three of the seven classes – Bootybarre Bliss, Bootybarre Flex n Flow and Bootybarre PLUS

Results: Even after a week, I could see how tone and strength would increase with continued attendance. The yoga and Pilates elements ensured you left each class feeling centred.


Bootybarre Bliss, a ‘slower-paced class’, is safe on the body and good for those with common complaints such as arthritis, joint inflexibility and balance issues; Bootybarre Flex n Flow is longer, with more of a focus on each section of the body, with exercises being more intense and utilising both barres and stretch bands to target legs, arms, core and booty; and Bootybarre PLUS is a major step up from the original bootybarre Bliss in terms of intensity and pace, using a mixture of the floor, mats, the barre, sliders, balls and stretch bands.

No matter the class, there is a real focus on stretching afterwards – as improving suppleness can be very beneficial for women of all ages. Each offers something different, but also flow well with each other, and worked out my entire body, much more than I expected.

I was surprised at this approach to exercise and didn’t expect it to work out the body as hard as it did! Taking these classes left me feeling energised and focused for the rest of the day. If you are wishing to explore a more ‘low impact’ form of exercise that still tones and strengthens, then this is for you. The combination of relatively small group classes, positive female instructors, empowerment through encouragement and fun upbeat music really made the experience inviting. For the men interested, they’ve also been known to host a few boys’ nights!




If you have a particular love for any form of exercise, there’s no reason you can’t make this your starting point.


1 More Round

Boxing Fitness Centre

With a range of boxing and non-boxing classes, it’s described as place to discover your fighting spirit!



Prior fitness level: Above average, mainly on a cardio level due to running and sports.

Goal: Get strong, be strong, and feel strong.

Commitment: 10 months (anywhere from two to four times per week due to our household schedule changing each week)

Results: More muscle, faster recovery times, reduction in body fat in those pesky areas.


I have never been a gym class junkie, so that’s not what I was looking for. 1 More Round is a boxing gym and it does not pretend to be anything else. There are regular programmes that see you train and eat like a boxer, to get you fighting fit, with the ultimate end-goal being to take to the ring for an exhibition bout. Yet, the environment and culture is embracing to all fitness levels, you are progressed at your own individual level, and encouraged to push yourself beyond your comfort levels. The motto on the door says it all… Work, hunt, win... TOGETHER.

I keep going back because the team walk the talk. You are trained by professional boxers or boxers who have been in the ring, so they know what it takes to transform your body, helping it become the best version of you – aiding you in both day-to-day life or in the ring.

It’s great for those who have trained the same way for years and want to push themselves. Our bodies change over time and we are easily trapped into our own mindset of our body’s capabilities. Anyone just starting out and wanting to be in a supportive, high-energy team environment that keeps you motivated; anyone who has thought about boxing as an option but has always imagined it to be a testosterone-fuelled environment – 1 More Round is not.

As a result, my strength and endurance has significantly improved. Over the winter sport season I felt stronger on court and my recovery times have become a lot shorter. Mentally I know that if I think I am at my physical limits, I can still push a little harder/further.



Get a move on

The first step is getting up off the couch is finding something that is motivating you to do so. Most places start with free trials, so make the most of these to experiment and see what makes you feel good. While there are plenty of HIIT options, be aware that balance is going to be the key to ongoing success.

“Consistency is important and ensuring you have balance when it comes to the type and style of training with recovery and rest. Your personal fitness goals and motivations will guide you in your specific needs but generally there is no one type of fitness as the only option, unless you are training for a specific event in which it is best to have a training programme. It comes down to understanding your specific needs and your desired outcomes and taking into account your age, previous injury or illness and current fitness level.”

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