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Redefining ‘sexagenarian’

Saturday 28 January 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Weekend


Redefining ‘sexagenarian’
Elizabeth (Etu) Chase and Deb Te Kani have achieved their goals in the Strong Mums Challenge coached by Myland Lane. 23012625.

Aging is not an option, it is inevitable. However, what aging looks and feels like is definitely a choice. Close friends Elizabeth (Etu) Chase and Deb Te Kani who are aged in their early sixties have transformed their body shapes and sizes and mastered the art of incorporating health and fitness into their daily lives, redefining their expectations of a sexagenarian.

They have learnt, trained hard and have done what it takes to attain a slender, toned healthy physique and maintaining a good level of physical fitness.

In June 2022, determined to drop weight and improve their health, Chase and Te Kani signed up for their first Strong Mum’s Six Weeks Weight Loss Fitness Challenge coached by “super woman trainer” Myland Lane.

Both women shifted their mindsets from their usual food intake and lack of exercise mentality to a balance of healthy meal plans, gym and fitness workouts.

Hitting the scales at the start of the challenge, Chase weighed in at 73 kilograms dropping to 64kg at the end of the six weeks, with Te Kani starting at 71kg and dropping to 64kg.

Focused on their goals, both women had given 100 per cent attendance to six solid weeks of 4am start classes which means getting out of bed about 3am in the morning “whatever the weather”.

Having achieved their weight loss goals and feeling motivated, healthier and fitter, they decided to take on the second 6-week Toning Challenge in August-September, including the last challenge for 2022 in October-November.

Strong Mums Trainer Tai Cummings (left), Deb Te Kani and Coach/Trainer Myland Lane prove fitness and health is the way to go. 23012756.

How did all this exercise, eating well, feeling good thing at over 60 come about?

“We thought we were skinny,” they say in unison, both squealing with laughter.

It all began last year in early June, on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning Chase and Te Kani were strolling around Punanga Nui Market when they noticed Sheeny Teariki.

“She (Sheeny) looked amazing, she was so toned,” says Chase, “so we asked her how she did it.”

Sheeny had completed a Six Weeks Strong Mums challenge with Myland Lane.

“We thought, OMG, we want to look like that, even at our age…” says Chase.

Inspired, the women rocked up to the Tupapa Centre to register for the next Strong Mums Challenge but the classes were becoming more popular and were full.

Undeterred and a bit “scared” they approached Lane and asked if she could please “squeeze” them in.

Lane agreed but wanted “total commitment”. Chase and Te Kani assured her they would and could commit.

They never missed a class, ever.

In the first few weeks it was a huge struggle for both women, having to reset their morning wake up times to the wee hours of the morning, but gradually they got used to it making sure they went to bed by 9pm for the early rises to get to the exercise classes.

“I know it’s a horrible time to start at 4am but for the women who do it suits them,” says Te Kani.

Sticking to the meal plans can be a struggle for most people, it wasn’t a big problem for Chase who is a vegan.

Lane created Chase her own specific vegetarian meal plan. “It was really good and helped me get there, but sometimes having the meals was hard because it’s a lot of food for me,” says Chase.

For those who do have difficulty sticking to the meal plans, Chase says, “if you eat something you shouldn’t, you’ve got to work it off, you can’t go to bed with that.”

The meal plan seems like a lot of food to consume at the start, “but near the end, we did need all that food since we were working out,” adds Te Kani.

“You have to follow the meal plan, if you go off it you won’t achieve your weight loss goal … you adjust to it, it’s part of the challenge.

“Sometimes it can be hard when your whole household isn’t eating the same meals you are but in the end it didn’t matter.”

When attending social events, the women would just take along their prepared meal plans to eat. “After a while you get used to it and people are understanding, they’re good,” says Te Kani.

The women eventually adjusted to the meals – “we had to, since it was all part of the plan,” explains Chase.

In the Strong Mums Challenges participants also join in the Johnson’s fitness classes at the Tupapa Centre.

Chase wore baggy t-shirts and long tights when she first started exercising. She has since gotten rid of them and now confidently trains in singlets and short tights.

For both women, the “Malcolm’s” – a series of continuous exercises including burpees – was the worst exercise. It’s now a favourite for Chase.

“And the push ups,” adds Te Kani, who says, “you also have to do stuff outside of the scheduled exercise classes, you can’t just go home and sit on the couch.”

Having the right mindset and the right attitude is also very important, they say.

“We had the right mindset and we were committed. Regardless what size you are, it’s the mindset, if you’re determined to look after yourself and do what’s right for yourself, you’ll do it,” says Chase.

Te Kani acknowledges it can be difficult to change your mindset in such a small community and that there are many people who struggle to get out of their old mindset, “so this programme Myland is doing is really good”.

The women also encourage people to have a good buddy partner to do the journey with like they had each other.

“It’s good to partner up to keep encouraging each other, and it’s more fun with a buddy, we have fun and it helps,” shares Te Kani.

During the breaks between each 6-week challenge, both women kept up with their own training, not wanting to get left behind or put on extra weight or make excuses when the classes restarted.

Lane is extremely proud of Chase and Te Kani’s achievements.

“Their lifestyle encourages daily movement, they have a purpose, they effectively manage their stress, their social circles and friends support healthy behaviour, they build strong relationships with the mum’s within their journey, they keep a positive outlook, and ask for help when they need it.

“Etu and Deb have been committed and focused on their journey, and their hard work and results show this,” says Lane.

In their third October-November challenge last year, at the last weigh in, Chase weighed in at 62kg, body fat 29 per cent, visceral fat 7 per cent and BMI 23 while Te Kani weighed 61kg, body fat 21 per cent, visceral fat 5 per cent and BMI 22.

“The younger women (as young as 30) were so inspired by these two and looked up to them, and I keep saying, if these two can do it and push themselves, we can do it as well,” says Lane.

“Although it was hard, they both never gave up and always supported one another and were at the top of their game.

“They never complained and just got into any training I had prepared every week. And every week, I’ve seen their fitness levels increase and their transformation. They both truly are an inspiration.”

During the fourth to sixth week of the challenge, their fitness picked up and both were unstoppable.

Exercising is fun too. Strong Mums take a break from the gym. 23012630

Chase and Te Kani have very similar philosophies on what help them maintain an active, healthy and happy life. They were happy to share their fitness journey to help inspire women of all ages to get fit and healthier and knowing “women want to see the results”.

Both women are full of praise for Lane, trainer Tai Cummings and the upcoming trainers, Mona Raui, Tapu Paitai and Pare Tangata .

Maintaining a good level of physical fitness is important to both women.

Te Kani says she still needs to maintain her fitness. “It’s ingrained in me now, and I notice I don’t eat a lot of rubbish, I look at the packets of what I’m buying now to check how much sugar is in there…”

“It’s a new year 2023, do something for yourself, get in with a great bunch of women who will help you and the best coach Myland, and trainer Tai (Cummings),” adds Chase.

“At the end of the day it’s the choices you make, you are what you eat. And I tell you what, you do feel younger. I feel like I’ve got heaps of energy and I think I’m a great role model for my kids.”

Her daughters and daughter-in-law are now all walking and all her kids are working out.

“This all goes back to Myland, you can’t take anything away from her, if she didn’t initiate this none of us would be here today.”

Chase has done many challenges and says there are things she didn’t know and has learnt just by being with Lane.

 “I honestly think while there is an opportunity to do this challenge take it, while the window is open, because you will never get another trainer like her.

“I’ve done many things in my life, she can help you change your lifestyle. She is the only woman in all my life that I’ve seen achieve goals with women,” says Chase.

Chase has noted that the new group of women taking on the weight loss programme are all committed to the exercise programme, making it to class and doing what is being asked of them.

“And that’s a huge achievement and it could be because they’ve seen the ones before them and what they have achieved.”

After living on Rarotonga for three years, Te Kani departed the island this week with her husband Royal New Zealand Navy Lieutenant Commander Mark Te Kani MNZM, the country’s former Police Maritime Surveillance Advisor.

“Etu will carry on their legacy for our women,” says Lane.