Fitness to help city's youth

Brett Toia (19) gets a boxing lesson from  Dunedin Training Centre fitness programme co-ordinator...
Brett Toia (19) gets a boxing lesson from Dunedin Training Centre fitness programme co-ordinator Hannah Grills. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
A fitness course pioneered by the Dunedin Training Centre could help troubled youth get their lives on track.

The idea came from personal trainer Hannah Grills, who started at the Dunedin Training Centre about a year and a-half ago.

She began running tri-weekly voluntary fitness sessions for pupils of the training centre, with the goal of increasing their motivation and positivity along with their physical fitness.

The pupils learn a combination of boxing, cardio, core, and yoga which is always varied to keep things interesting.

Exercise had both physical and mental benefits, Ms Grills said.

''It improves your whole way of thinking and gives you motivation to do stuff. If you commit to exercise you can have shifts in your perception.''

A Dunedin local, Ms Grills has a bachelor's degree in neuroscience, has taken psychology papers at Lotus College and is a qualified physical trainer.

She is studying public health at the University of Otago in addition to running the fitness sessions.

Dunedin Training Centre manager Callum Hayde said about 50 of the centre's 90 pupils had taken part in the courses so far, and already positivity and attitudes around the place had improved.

Many of the pupils had negative experiences in their past and thought they were not smart because they had not done well in the classroom, but being exposed to Ms Grill's bright and bubbly personality helped improve their outlook on life, he said.

The programme is to be incorporated into the South Dunedin Trial (Base) and Ms Grills is to start running further courses for Dunedin 16 to 18-year-olds not in education or training (Neets).

Once the physical fitness aspect of the course was developed, Ms Grills planned to mix in learning about self awareness, nutrition, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Ms Grills has been running the course on a limited budget and is looking for sponsorship to get more gear including bikes, medicine balls, mirrors, and mats.

She hoped the equipment would eventually benefit all users of the Dunedin City Council-owned Caledonian Gym where the courses were held.


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