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Empowering Community Wellness: Counterpunch Parkinson’s Thrives in Whanganui

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

In a heartwarming endeavour that exemplifies unity, determination, and friendship, Counterpunch Parkinson’s Whanganui has emerged as a beacon of support for individuals grappling with Parkinson's disease. Nestled within the vibrant surroundings of the river city boxing gym at the Kaierau rugby club, this unique exercise programme not only bolsters physical well-being but also fosters a close-knit community where individuals find solace and strength in each other's shared experiences.

Designed exclusively for people living with Parkinson's, Counterpunch Parkinson’s Whanganui offers a safe and welcoming space for participants to connect with others who understand the challenges they face. Within this encouraging environment, participants are free to express themselves, forge connections, and embark on a journey toward improved health.

The programme has been designed to enhance strength, mobility, and everyday functionality, and has been fully supported by the Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN). With their financial support, WRHN has enabled participants to engage in 60 to 120 minutes of restorative exercise each week. Exercise sessions are held on Wednesdays from 10am to 11am and are facilitated by the WRHN Long-Term Conditions Self-Management Programme Coordinator; Mere Tua. Mere has extensive knowledge in exercise management and is not only a certified exercise consultant but also a qualified Counterpunch Parkinson’s coach. As the Counterpunch coach, Mere guides participants towards their wellness goals with expertise and compassion. On Fridays, the reins are taken by Eddie Tofa, a seasoned boxing coach with a wealth of experience. Eddie holds a Level 2 NZ boxing license, and qualifications as a Counterpunch Parkinson’s coach. To ensure uninterrupted support, Lisa Dalton also supports the team and steps in as a backup coach whenever Mere or Eddie are unable to attend sessions.

The essence of Counterpunch Parkinson’s Whanganui goes beyond exercise routines; it revolves around the amazing individuals who bolster the programme's vitality. Fraser Stewart, an active Parkinson’s advocate who faces the condition himself, plays a pivotal role in uniting the group and igniting their motivation.

Another example of dedication is George, a steadfast boxing coach who accompanies his wife, who has Parkinson’s, each week. Together, they engineer functional circuit stations that simulate real-life movements, ensuring participants acquire skills that transcend exercise routines. These stations include exercises that mimic scenarios like recovering from a fall or maintaining balance on a Bosu ball, promoting independence and confidence in everyday activities.

The program's evolution is a testament to unwavering dedication of the people who attend and our staff who support them. The programme was initiated by Lisa Gombinsky in 2019 and supported by Sala Temo. Prior to Sala’s departure from the WRHN, Mere Tua began attending support alongside Sala and has since taken over the Wednesday training sessions, witnessing participants' remarkable progress firsthand.

Elevating the entire experience, Counterpunch Parkinson’s Whanganui proudly holds the distinction of being the largest group programme of its kind in New Zealand and boasts an astounding 20+ participants. Being part of this exceptional community is a privilege that Whanganui Regional Health Network wholeheartedly embraces.

For more information about the Counterpunch Parkinson’s classes, contact Mere Tua on or call 027 264 9914.



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