Every week I write about a fitness challenge, hoping to inspire readers to give it a go. The column explains everything you need to know about what these things are like including cost, location and some hints as to who may dig them. The upshot is, if this busy mum can attempt some serious (and not so serious) challenges, you probably can too.
Below are some fitness highlights, in no particular order, that I tried this year and perhaps if you like the sound of them you can seek out something similar. Exercise is good for your mind and body so just keep trying things until you find something that sings to your heart - that's the secret - getting fit through something that's fun.
Meanwhile, I've been enjoying my kai and family fun at Christmas, while sneaking in a run with my dad at Mt Maunganui and cycling, walking and swimming with my kids on Auckland's stunning beaches. I hope your Christmas was awesome, too.
Lawrence Liew is an accountant for the Serious Fraud Office and he also teaches a Californian dance called Popping at City Dance on Queen St in Auckland central. With Justin Timberlake-like moves, it involves contracting the muscles continuously like a staccato robot in time with the accentuated beats of the music. This is quirky cool and the university dudes who go really love it.
Want a tough trainer who won't listen to excuses? Well, try this strength, technique, endurance and motivation class at Specforce in Eden Terrace, Auckland. It's taken by Scott Cottier, who served 20 years in the army, including the past six years as head trainer to the NZ Special Forces at Papakura. This is no wussy workout, which is why cops and elite athletes flock to this joint. Scott is proud his focus is on getting people fit and helping fat fall away. I love his food philosophy, too: "If it's got legs, grows in the ground or on trees, then it's what you should eat."
Steal time to slow down with Erin O'Hara at Golden Yogi studio, Takapuna. It's a mind, body and soul thing.
If you're flexible and have a good dollop of strength and confidence then try this blend of yoga and acrobatics. I did this at Nikki Ralston's Urban Ashram studio in Ponsonby and will never forget being "in-flight", or rather held up in the air by the feet of Canadian instructor Trevor Gribble. Talk about a "high-light".
Sailing for kids programme at Kohimarama Yacht ClubKids learn to sail and their parents learn with them, too, as volunteers. I took my son Zach (8) and he gave it a big thumbs up. And there are several sailing clubs Auckland-wide that offer these programmes.
When I came to this Grafton-based outfit in Auckland in February I could run for only 23 minutes. But through the group training sessions, I've conquered this year's adidas Auckland Marathon, plus the Taupo, Sydney and Kerikeri half-marathons. I'm no longer just a mum, I'm a marathoner and it's wicked. This is just one thing I chose to commit to - and I achieved more than I dreamed. So a lesson here is commit to something that you connect with and just give it a good shot. You may achieve more than you dream, too. And if you do, I'd love to hear all about it.
My little guy Finn and I tried this YummyMummy class. Simone Rank has a winning formula, challenging and motivating mums and letting them bring their bubs along, so no baby-sitter required. When Finn cried, Simone cuddled him so I could continue. This style of workout makes it possible for new mums to exercise and feel good about themselves.
I'll admit I initially felt like a Barbie doll with the latest fashion accessory at Amy McAuley's powerhoop class in Howick. I wondered how my boy-like, rather than Beyonce-like, hips would cope. But circling this hoop-like device around my hips and arms and then sometimes multi-tasking with other exercises while music blasted saw me laugh and laugh. More than a few mature ladies raved about how they had lost inches around their waists.