Last week I talked about how the Government is committed to championing equality for women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand.

It knows there are clear inequalities for women and girls when it comes to participation, and their wider involvement and visibility within active recreation and sport in New Zealand.

And so, within Northland, it's fantastic to see how women like Rhonda Zielinski-Toki from Kaikohe have taken note of this and are doing something about these inequalities.

Rhonda has recently opened her own 24/7 women's gym called 'Influence Kaikohe' – her motto is: "you will be pushed to your limits, but you will never be left behind!"


Her inspiration comes from Doug Healey - the man who learned to walk again. Influence Crew founder Doug has been determined to help people change their own lives after a tragic work accident over a decade ago saw him snap his spine in three places.

Doug was told he would never walk again, however his grit and determination manifested into a daily, excruciatingly painful slow walk to visit his granddaughter in hospital. This ended with him not only walking again, but participating in marathons.

Rhonda, a trained nurse, is one of those supporters, and while there is no doubt that Doug has helped inspire her, the women of Northland are also her inspiration for the new gym.

Her aim is to provide a safe environment for all women to workout regardless of their shape, age or level of fitness. She strongly believes being active contributes to whānau wellbeing, both mentally and physically.

Tania Heap from Sport Northland's Healthy Lifestyle team attended the opening of the gym in July and had this to report:

"There was great anticipation as a crowd of women gathered outside the gym, waiting for it to open. Once the doors opened, we eagerly went upstairs, and arrived to a warm welcome. On first observation, the brand-new equipment looked most impressive and you could smell the freshly painted walls," she said.

"After the introductions, they set up the gym for a circuit class. I had decided to take part in the class. I was somewhat nervous, as they kept jokingly saying to be prepared to work the hardest you have ever worked.

"The goal was to work out on each piece of equipment for 30-40 seconds at a set pace then move on to the next piece of equipment. We continued to do this for about 40 minutes, then we did some Pilates and finished with meditation.


"We were cheered on by the crowd, and I worked so hard that I didn't think I was going to complete it, but wow, what a sense of achievement at the end of the training! I can honestly vouch for their philosophy of 'you will be pushed to your physical limits, but you will never be left behind!' If you join them, you will be part of their whanau".

Let's hope the women and girls of Kaikohe get behind this worthwhile venture – more information can be found on their Facebook page