In 2007 we decided to go and take a look ourselves at some centres when we went back to the UK to say hello to our relations and friends.
They were named “Leisure Centres” which can mean many things, but we tried to choose only those which have outreach to all people, young and old, and a real commitment to improving the health of the whole population of their area. We visited the Leisure Centres of the Shetland Islands, then Elgin in Moray, Scotland's smallest city, looked at a mobile facility in Kilmarnock south of Glasgow, and a network of centres in Caerphilly, a deprived region of South Wales, talking with both users and staff.
At all these places we were given a most friendly and helpful reception. We believe this is partly due to the fact that those there believe firmly in the value of what they are doing. We recorded our visit on still and video cameras, but it was unfortunately not possible to film most of the activities because of the privacy laws.
There may be some Leisure Centres of this kind in New Zealand cities, and some way must be found to bring the benefits to everyone in this country, wherever they live.
Most local Councils in New Zealand would find it impossible to fund such centres properly, and we believe that Central Government must do so: after all, there will be a substantial saving in Health costs if our population eats properly and exercises adequately.
We made a 51 minute DVD of our experiences at these places, which is available on request: see the Contact Page
This is Northland, where we live: just one typical rural part of New Zealand.
The blue circles show heated indoor public swimming pools as some indication of the few facilities available for exercise!
We show swimming pools because swimming is very suitable for people of all ages and physical types and water exercise is prescribed for many physical disabilities.
The situation for gyms and “dry” exercise facilities is not much better.
Click to see the essential components of an ideal Healthy Living Centre
Click to see the plan of a small Centre in the Shetland Islands