We call upon our Government to investigate throughly the principles of these centres
and to build a small number here in both urban and rural districts on a pilot basis
in order to assess them and adapt them to New Zealand's needs. Only by providing
exercise facilities which will appeal to everyone of all ages and conditions can
we attack the obesity epidemic which threatens us all. The potential benefits are
great, doctors will be encouraged to refer many of their patients to the centres
where they can receive expert professional guidance and an exercise programme tailored
to their needs and capabilities.
Initially this will involve a substantial investment (which is negligible compared
with entertainment projects such as stadiums!) but in the long run much money and
valuable resources will be saved as people learn to look after their own health.
We can also expect an improvement in the mental state of many people as exercise
helps to combat depression. Our young people will also benefit and we should even
see a reduction in criminal offending of some kinds.
Our intention here has not been to promote competitive sport, which has totally different
aims and philosophy, but to improve the health of everyone, young and old, with a
wide range of abilities. However, it is clear that if more people take part in physical
activities, many will find that they have the innate ability that will enable them
to do well in competition, which will certainly improve New Zealand's standing as
a sporting nation.
We propose a pilot scheme of building perhaps
four in urban and
four in rural districts
Some of the important points to be considered:
A good relationship with local medical practitioners and integration with all community
health professionals, social workers, marae and schools.
Provision for people of all types, younger, older, non-athletic, disabled, frail,
and sensitive to the needs of people of all racial groups.
A price schedule within everyone's reach.
A supportive and non-threatening environment.
Any competitiveness restricted to a few, appropriate occasions.
There should be a range of activities, some not especially health-promoting but used
to attract patrons, for example chess clubs. Community input is important.
It is better to have several smaller centres than a few large ones. They are less
intimidating, and travelling distances will be minimised
Schools should be able to use the centres at suitable times.
When a new centre is planned, liaison with local interested groups and any existing
commercial ventures will avoid opposition and conflict.
An optimistic view of the probable usage per head of population should be held as
any existing patterns will become obsolete with enlightened management methods and
better public perception of the centres.