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Q&A with Group Power Instructor Riz

Ridvan Firestone (aka Riz), Group Power Instructor/Head Teacher at CityFitness Thorndon recently won a Pacific career development award worth $300,000 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, which she will use to study obesity in Pacific youth aged 16 to 24. With this award she will be able to research, develop new ideas, and network with other Pacific health researchers. We were so proud of her achievement that we had to find out more!


Who and what inspired you to join the fitness industry?

I joined the fitness industry 22 years ago – I wanted to be fit and healthy. At the time, I had just quit smoking and training as a GFI consolidated all my efforts to stay off the cigarettes. Also, I love working with, and empowering with people from all walks of life, so that they can achieve their goal of healthier living.


What do you think is the main cause of obesity?

There are lots of schools of thought about the causes (eg. obese-type gut microbiota) and contributing factors (eg. Western-style diets, sedentary lifestyle).  International research on drivers of obesity indicate that the environment and behaviours are potentially important, however the food system remains to be the dominant driver of the obesity epidemic. That is, increased supply of cheap, palatable, energy-dense foods, and how efficiently this food is now distributed – it’s more accessible and convenient too.



If you’re willing to share, what are some ways you plan to reverse obesity levels?

The award that I was given from the Health Research Council of NZ will allow me to develop a Pacific Health Research Programme that includes developing an intervention programme of experimental activities.


If you were now in a room with your target market, Pacific Young aged 16 – 24, what advice would you give them?

First, I’d ask them what their health and lifestyle goals are, and provide advice accordingly.  I’d encourage them to make small, smart achievable goals.  Second, be active and think ‘fitness for life’ –  what does this mean to you and what could it look like?  Everyone leads their life down different roads and their approach to life will be unique – this is important, because people need to take ownership and consolidate for life, not as a one-off life event.   Finally, stay away from ‘refined’ sugary foods and drinks!