Paul’s great journey of loss

Monday May 01, 2017 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
Paul Ongoua before his massive weight loss. 17042821 Paul Ongoua before his massive weight loss. 17042821

Plenty has changed for Paul Ongoua in the past year.


To begin with, he has lost a massive 31 kilograms.

He feels a much stronger and healthier person with a developed unshakeable self-confident in himself.

A year ago, Ongoua was 172kg and carrying a high level of fat percentage. He was an introvert who rarely went out socialising.

Ongoua, who will turn 40 next month, wasn’t fully content with his life. He wanted to change, starting with weight loss.

After going through basic exercise such as afternoon walks, yoga, Zumba and playing squash with work colleagues, Ongoua in May last year joined a boot camp run by ZUU instructor Tamaiti Samson.

That proved a game-changer.

“At one of my regular health survey, the doctors advised me that I needed to do more weights and cardio to my training schedule,” Ongoua said.

“I know going to a gym would have been ideal but it wasn’t really something that was on my mind at that time. I needed guidance in weights and cardio training.

“That’s when I was introduced to ZUU. I started in May of last year. That’s when Maiti (Tamaiti Samson) started having his second boot camp so I decided to join and give it a go.”

The first day of the boot camp went well for Ongoua. He struggled but he enjoyed the one-hour session.

It was a good change from his routine exercises and he felt good about himself.

“Come the next session, I was in deep pain, my body went into shock as it wasn’t used to the intense exercise. I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” he said.

“I then had a chat with Maiti who started going through the physical activities that he would take us through during the boot camp, focusing different muscles and workouts.

“He told me not to quit, and asked me to come back for the next session and see how things go.”

A determined Ongoua persevered.

After the five-week session involving about two hours a week, he managed to get the desired results.

But that was just the start of his journey. He stayed on with the programme, completing five boot camps and other sessions with Samson to come this far.

Ongoua also won the top prize in the annual Cook Islands ZUU/TMS Fitness awards night in December. 

His dedication to the cause saw him scooping the main prizes in all the awards events.

“I feel stronger. I started losing weight at the beginning but not so much of the body fat at that time as we didn’t specifically focus on that area.

“I met a group of people with the same aim, but different fitness levels. We developed friendships and it opened up ways for me to improve on my social life and confidence as well.”

In December, the New Zealand-born Ongoua, who moved to Rarotonga in 1991, took about a month’s break and got back on the grind in mid-January with Samson’s new and improved training sessions.

He has been going strong since, showing no signs of slowing down.

Apart from the desire for a healthy living, Ongoua’s “painful” journey started with a conviction to prove to people who had certain perceptions about New Year’s resolutions, that they were wrong.

“You know how there is this New Year’s resolution thing, so in January last year, I made a resolution to lose weight.

“I started a new job in December 2015 and I was getting closer to my 40th birthday, so I thought I would start caring a bit more about myself.

“People have this perception about New Year’s resolutions that you can’t remain faithful to them and I wanted to prove them wrong.

“If you put your mind to something, anything is possible. Everybody thinks that losing weight is a physical thing, but it has a lot to do with mental strength as well.”

Ongoua started writing down his personal goals and as months went by, his list grew smaller and smaller.

But he reckons there is still a long way to go.

“The last time I weighed, I was 141kg. My aim is to get to 110kg, or ideally 100kg by the end of the year. It’s going to be some painful months for me,” he said with a laugh.

“I have started to go to shops now and buy clothes that I can actually fit into. Those were smaller sizes and I had always wanted to wear them. Now I can.

“I do have my old clothes and sometimes I look at them and I say to myself that I’m not going back there.”

Ongoua says ZUU is one of the best body movement exercises to get into the shape one desires.

“One thing about ZUU is that there is no restriction. It is for everyone, no matter what their fitness levels are.

“Some people are faster and others may be slower but it doesn’t matter. There are trainers who are very supportive and encouraging. Even the group members who you train with always there to help you out.

“I might be saying this and that about ZUU, but the best thing to do is to join a class and try it for yourself. Some people might like it, others might not.

“For me, it has worked out very well. I have lost weight and regained my confidence. That’s more than what I asked for.”

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