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Fitness fanatics warned of health risks

A Hamilton-based fitness expert has warned exercise fanatics may be risking their health, if not their lives, from their obsessions with working out.

Waikato University clinical psychologist Jo Thakker’s words of caution come just over a year after 17-year-old Joshua Tanuvasa died while working out at the Les Mills Gym in Hamilton.

While his death last year on September 24 is still before the coroner, Thakker said she was worried others might also come to his fate by taking their passion too far.

There are 31 gyms listed in the Yellow Pages in Hamilton – and this number continues to grow as people turn to exercise as a way to slim down or bulk up.

Thakker said some were taking exercise too far and displaying disorder-like behaviours. She had seen several cases where young men were using supplements and then exercising excessively, some to the point of hospitalisation.

“They’re willing to risk their lives to look a certain way.”

While excessive exercise was not a recognised diagnostic category, it was an aspect of a range of eating disorders, Thakker said.

Ali Alkadhi, 26, has just competed in the National Association of Body Builders New Zealand nationals.

His rigorous training regime had been “taxing” on both his body and his mind, he said. “Each week, the calories would be reduced and cardio would be added, and as you lose body fat, your mind starts to play tricks on you,” he said.

“I lost my desire for everything. All I could think of was food.”

Alkadhi said he believed all bodybuilders had some form of obsessive compulsive disorder, as they scrutinised every inch of their body to achieve perfection.

But the mental health factor is not the only problem facing keen gym-goers.

Over-exercising can lead to injury, fatigue and your results may even go backwards. Personal trainer and nutritionist Jake Campus said that in the 10 years he had been involved in the fitness industry, he had seen many cases of people pushing themselves too hard.

It was a case of excitement about training and striving too hard to reach their goals that saw most of them getting addicted, he said.

Campus believed about 20% of gym-goers would fall into the overtraining category. This became a problem when people’s bodies were not accustomed to their workouts, which led to overuse injuries and fatigue.

First Place Fitness personal trainer Michael Briggs also saw overtraining frequently.

Briggs said he believed almost everyone who trained went though a period where they pushed themselves too hard, and part of his job was reining them back in.

“You never tell yourself that you are overtraining; someone has to tell you.

“I think the health risks of not exercising are far greater than the risks of exercising. Exercise should be part of a balanced lifestyle,” he said.

While injury was the most common danger of training too much, there were more serious things such as the potentially fatal condition rhabdomyolysis. This is a serious renal condition which is characterised by muscle cell breakdown.

As a consequence myoglobin (an oxygen transport protein) leaks into the urine, which causes problems with the kidneys.

If you or someone you know needs help with an eating disorder, contact Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand on 09 522 2679.

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Fitness fanatics warned of health risks

Posted in Aerobics, Diets, Exercises, Nutrition, Personal Fitness Training, Training Methods, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments (0)


Ask The Master Motivator: How Can I Motivate My Significant Other To Work Out?

Q “How Can I Motivate My Significant Other To Work Out?”

Just like bills and household chores, fitness can mark a tipping point for relationships. It’s a challenge that might be more common than you think: one person wants to get in shape, and the other isn’t as motivated. It’s a two-fold problem and a recipe for insecurity and jealousy.

Your partner might be threatened by your newfound passion and wonder why you’re doing it or who you’re doing it for. You might feel like he or she is unintentionally sabotaging your fitness goals. If you’re steadfast with your goals and start to achieve some success, it can become frustrating when you don’t see your partner making the same effort. You feel like you are trying to improve yourself, look better, and live healthier, and your partner’s lack of passion might upset you.

So what do you do if you can’t get your spouse onboard with your new fitness goals and lifestyle? Try some of these tactics to help motivate your partner to make healthier decisions so you can live your lives together as one happy, fit family.


If you want your significant other to be receptive to what you’re sharing, don’t make him or her feel ashamed about current lifestyle choices. That’s only going to spark resentment. You don’t want to bully your loved one into making a change, which often results in a negative outcome down the road. Always keep your eye on the prize, which is having a healthy and happy relationship.

“If you want your significant other to be receptive to what you’re sharing, don’t make him or her feel ashamed about current lifestyle choices.”


If your spouse is reacting negatively to your new fit lifestyle, it might be because your loved one simply doesn’t understand why you’re doing it. The solution? Communicate. Have a caring, understanding conversation where you explain the importance of your goals. Explain that you’re doing it both for physical health and for a healthier self image. Let your significant other know that you want to be the best person you can be, and that you want to train often and eat smart so that you can be around longer. Your relationship deserves that.

Get your partner involved by asking for help. Some people are more motivated by doing things for others than they are for themselves. In some cases, the desire to help you will be a strong enough motivator for your partner to get active, as well.


Just because you’re focused on achieving your goals doesn’t mean your significant other is equally as amped. Don’t assume your partner is working from your timeline. Instead of expecting him or her to feed off your energy, help your partner create inner motivation by pinning down a goal that has personal meaning. This meaning is going to propel your loved one forward and stay on-track during hard times. It has to create that spark. If your loved one is still having trouble finding a sense of purpose, help him or her set a time-sensitive goal—whether that be looking great in a bikini for an upcoming trip or shaving 20 seconds off a mile time for an upcoming race. This creates a sense of urgency, which might just be the push that’s needed.


Sometimes we don’t realize how much we’ve slid off course until someone mentions it. One of the most valuable things about a relationship is having someone who cares enough to be your mirror and be honest with you. The important thing is being honest in a non-judgmental and loving way. If your spouse knows you’re doing it out of love, and not just being hurtful, it’ll be easier for him or her to hear the truth.

Find a subtle way to bring your partner’s current health issues to light. An old photo or video is a great way for your better half to see how far his or her fitness has fallen. Another helpful reference point is getting your bodyweight and body fat tested together. While it’s a great way to see where you are for your age, it’s also a great tool for setting goals and measuring progress.


Remember that not everyone shares the same interests. Explore different exercise-related activities until your spouse finds one that he or she enjoys. Cater to your partner’s personality type. Someone who’s self-conscious might shy away from group classes, while someone who loves heights might take well to bouldering. Remember that you can’t transform fitness habits overnight. First, you have to build a foundation.

“Explore different exercise-related activities until your spouse finds one that he or she enjoys.”


It’s easy for your partner to feel like he or she has taken a backseat to your new fitness goals. That can lead to resentment. Instead of letting fitness tear you apart, allow it to bring you together. While you don’t have to spend every moment lifting together, take the opportunity to spend some time training side-by-side. Try hitting the stepmill at the same time, or joining each other on a nightly walk or post-dinner run. Having a common interest and common goal can bring a relationship even closer together.


Getting started is always the hardest part. Find a way to give your partner a supportive initial push without being too forceful. Help your loved one test out fun things while encouraging him or her to dismantle the excuse word “can’t.” If your partner used to like to ride mountain bikes, drop into a bike shop on a Saturday. If you’re with a guy or gal who likes MMA, get a punching bag or sign up for classes at a martial arts studio. If your partner is brand new to fitness, take him or her to the gym for the first time. All of these things are easy to do, but they’re also easily left on the backburner. Help make sure they become action, not inaction.


Remember to reward yourself when reaching milestones. The act of treating yourself is bigger than a new pair of jeans or concert tickets. Treating yourself creates a positive association with your goals, recharges your batteries, and makes you eager to achieve your next major triumph. Help your significant other create small “stepping stone” goals and a complementary reward system that reflects something your partner really wants to do.

“Help your significant other create small ‘stepping stone’ goals and a complementary reward system that reflects something your partner really wants to do.”


Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Just like having your spouse’s support makes it easier for you to stay on track, the same is true the other way around. Stay strong for both of you. If your partner sees you get lax with your training or cheat on your meals, it just makes it easier for him or her to fall off the wagon. In the beginning, you’re going to have to be strong enough for the both of you.


If all other efforts fail, take the direct approach and have a serious conversation with your partner about health. Remember that, even though this is a more direct tactic, you want to approach it with love and understanding. If you go in guns blazing, it simply won’t work. You’re just going to make your partner put up defenses. Make the conversation about values, principles, and beliefs. If you’re working hard at getting in shape and being healthy, then chances are you value your health, respect your body, and believe it’s a reflection of who you are as a person. When the personal values in a relationship aren’t in alignment, it’s bound to cause conflict. Take the time to talk things out and come to a mutual understanding. Who knows, maybe next time you’ll be headed to the gym together, hand in hand.

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Ask The Master Motivator: How Can I Motivate My Significant Other To Work Out?

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, NutritionComments (0)

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Paige Hathaway

21 hours 12 minutes ago

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