A  10-week Jumpstart programme has been created by the YMCA Auckland and Pharmaco in 2015 – and has since spread across the country – offering once-a-week evening classes on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle change for people with type 2 diabetes, plus access to the gym. People either self-refer or are referred by their nurses, GPs or other health professionals to the programme, which is available on Green Prescription in some centres.

Karen Turner from Upper Hutt answered “hell no!” when asked whether she’d ever thought about going to a gym before joining Jumpstart.

“But the YMCA is not your typical gym – there are mums and dads, children and grandparents; no one is judging you and you can wander, or wobble, around and feel comfortable.”

Since attending Jumpstart, she’s reported lower blood sugar levels and healthier eating habits, and to date has lost 7 kilos. Other participants have reported similar results, including reduced waist measurements and blood pressure and improved moods and confidence.

Andrew Howard, Executive Chair of YMCA Auckland, says the best way to address a growing health issue like diabetes is as a community, with Jumpstart being a great example of a programme where people learn together and encourage each other to achieve goals.

He said their philosophy as a not-for-profit organisation is to help build strong families and communities founded on good health, lifestyle and activity and by using its facilities, gyms and trainer to support people of all sizes to get moving and be healthy.

Chandra Selvadurai, Managing Director of Pharmaco, said the programme aims at tackling the personal and family impacts of what is becoming one of New Zealand’s biggest health challenges by providing practical advice about exercise, nutrition and lifestyle.

Jumpstart runs four times a year at 14 YMCAs in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Invercargill and includes access to any YMCA gym for the duration of the course. The subsidised 10-week course is $80, but help is available via Green Prescriptions to those who can’t afford the fees.

More information, including how to refer patients, can be found at the Jumpstart website.

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