Winners of the 2023 ExerciseNZ Awards presented on Saturday 26 November 2023 can be found below along with the judge’s comments. 


General photos of the evening are available here.

Winners images  –  click photo to access the full sized images. 


Education, Support & Programme 

Educator of the Year 

Mish Wright

Mish is a highly energetic and engaging educator who has a wealth of experience delivering to trainers.  She’s clear and precise, real and animated, wise and informed. Her presentation and delivery are creative, interactive, and innovative.  She removes the ego, but her ability to convey and relay her information still shows her superiorly informed position.

Community Award


Leisurlys is a well-rounded fitness and health offering that brilliantly serves its local ageing community. There is a wide variety of opportunities to engage a range of abilities and preferences, serviced and led by well-qualified staff.   They’ve taken time and care to develop a highly attended programme and social and recreational activities outside of the gym. 



Leadership Award

Abby Strong

Abby is a natural, well-rounded, confident leader with a clear vision. Her videos were professional and well-planned, and her energetic and cheeky personality shined through; what she does in her role for the industry as a volunteer is highly valued and needed; thank You for elevating the fitness community!

Te Piki Oranga Award

Whitirau Cross100

Ka mihi ake rā ki te tokorua kāmehameha nei. Mārakerake ana te kitea, te rangona hoki, ko te reo Māori me ōna tikanga, te mea mātua ki tēnei whare kori tinana. Nā te reo Māori, me te mahi whare tapa whā, te hāpori i ora ake ai!

Special acknowledgements to these two ladies: it’s obvious to see and hear that the reo and customs are the main focus at this Crossfit whare. From the language and focus on the four walls of wellbeing, this community has thrived. Congratulations!

Industry Awards

Te Mahi Ako – Manukura Award

John Mainu’u

Manukura Award goes to an individual in the fitness industry who is held in high esteem. To be a ‘manukura’ you must have the support of people around you, and the people you work with. It is a position of mana.  This award is all about leadership, and how someone’s work ethic reflects how they are regarded and supported by those around them.

With all his amazing talent and exceptional contributions, please welcome John Mainu’u to accept the Manukura Award.  While John is making his way on stage, let’s hear about why he is the 2023 recipient of this award.   

 John’s apprenticeship began during the pandemic, navigating tight operational restrictions and seizing the opportunity, John and the Bsuite crew embarked on their apprenticeships as a cohort, upskilling their team. John’s passion for backing up his work in the exercise sector led him to teach his famous step classes to his Pasifika community, conduct small group and personal training at BSuite, and lead Les Mills classes. John’s clear purpose is to promote activity in his Pasifika community and be a role model for his family, with his wife Rosie as his powerhouse. This apprenticeship has given John NZQA Level four accreditation in freestyle group exercise, personal training and small group training. Rawe John, you are our motivation!

Te Mahi Ako – Te Iti Kahurangi Award

Industrial Fitness Queenstown

This award goes to an exercise organisation that is achieving at a high level and supporting professional development for their workforce. Te itiKahurangi is the pursuit of excellence, and is taken from the very famous whakatauki (proverb): “Whāia te iti Kahurangi, ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei.” “Pursue excellence, and should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain.”

Under the supportive leadership of Gary Gregory, tonight’s recipient proudly accepts the prestigious Te Iti Kahurangi Award. This recognition celebrates the teams’ unwavering commitment to collective dedication to excellence. Guided by Gary’s mentorship, the gym has experienced tremendous growth, with three apprentices successfully completing their journey in the last twelve months. Gary has taken on additional apprentices who are thriving under his support and is constantly extending his guidance to gym members pursuing Exercise Level 4 qualifications, supporting them to becoming qualified trainers. Special acknowledgement goes to their outstanding personal trainer apprentices – Gillian, Ethan, Daniel, Nicole, Morgan and Yoshi whose tireless work ethic and commitment have set new standards and contributed to the exceptional quality of the facility. Ka rawe Gary and everyone at Industrial Fitness Queenstown.

REPs Award

The REPs special award category is presented to a role model that reflects the ethics and values of exercise professionals and facilities in New Zealand.


Kirstyn Campbell

This year’s recipient of the REPs Award leads by example and is the epitome of a pillar in the exercise industry.

After injuring her own abdominal wall via exercise nine years ago, the winner entered the exercise industry as a Personal Trainer supporting mums returning to exercise after childbirth & her clients’ pelvic floor health with programs like Sneeze without Wees & KCFit Core Restore. 

The winner has evolved her brand to become a trusted CPD provider, offering a selection of CPD courses to upskill trainers in training pregnant and post-natal Mums safely and effectively and how to help their clients return to Exercise After COVID-19.  As an EPNA Ambassador, she supports the industry, trainers and exercise facilities even further in this volunteer role.  

During COVID, she reached out and offered support to REPs, her local personal trainer network and her peers across the country. And, after her local area was devastated by the cyclone earlier this year, this community-minded personal trainer did everything from making meals for her clients for months after the event to creating a massive local collaborative event to raise funds to reconstruct the well-being space in Muriwai. 

Inspiring everyone around her to grow as a Personal trainer and REPs registered professional



ExerciseNZ Award

  • This individual was one of the first to register with REPs back in 2003
  •  they have been a Group Exercise Instructor, a Personal Trainer and a Club Manager… 
  • they had also moved into the education space, passing their knowledge, enthusiasm and skills on to the next generation of trainers.
  •  The recipient of this award is not only a genuinely nice guy 
  • He has mucked in and been a conference volunteer in the past
  • he is also one of the judges who help determine the finalists and winners in some of the other categories we are celebrating here tonight

Enough suspense – Peter Fraser is the 2023 ExerciseNZ Award recipient.

YogaNZ Award

Pooja Maddela

The YogaNZ  Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Yoga Community in Aotearoa is  Pooja Maddela, in recognition of her long career dedicated to education and research around Yoga and Ayurveda, including volunteering her time and expertise at many YogaNZ events over the years


Individual Awards

Group Exercise Instructor of the Year – Own Choreography 

Nicola Williams

Creating and delivering your choreography takes experience and skill. Nikki engaged in constructive pre-class preparation, which was delivered in a friendly, enthusiastic manner. Judges commented on the high quality of skill shown with cueing, communication and movement skills.

A feel-good vibe, with a scene set for FUN.

Group Exercise Instructor of the Year – Pre Choreographed 

Marwin Silerio

Marwin has impressive communication skills. He delivered excellent pre-class preparation. He praised and encouraged his class with positive reinforcement cues. Superbly motivational.

A confident performance with authenticity.

Yoga Teacher of the Year

Reha Kumar

Reha has demonstrated through her teaching a considerable commitment to nurturing and educating the values of Yoga beyond just the physical.

Group Trainer of the Year

Caren van Gastel

Caren has developed a very strong niche market and branding She has created a supportive community for her clients. She trains with great communication and empathy providing a safe environment for them to look after their own health and wellbeing, incorporating the four pillars of te whare tapa wha.   Caren has a great adaptable approach to training clients, checking in before the session and then again after the session. She then draws attention to the benefits/change that has happened in the session. This adds to their overall experience. She makes a powerful impact on these women.  With good mentoring and future development plans, and people in place to talk through future plans.

Student of the Year

Jacinda Chisholm

The judges loved Jacinda’s educational background and the skill set that you bring to the industry, you have a broad range of study experiences.

Working with clients, you encourage them to chunk down, getting them to think about their weekly habits and what they can do to enhance what you are doing with them.

From a business perspective, you encourage a coaching approach getting your clients to buy into the process of what they are doing on a weekly basis. It’s commendable that you are studying while training as a PT. It is evident from both Jacinda’s stage 2 entry and Zoom interview that you get joy from learning, and then being able to share that learning with others.

Up and Coming Personal Trainer of the Year

Saskia Jordan

The judges love how much Saksia values connection and how she has worked hard to create a strong community. She had a friendly and natural approach to your client interaction while still maintaining professionalism and a disciplined atmosphere!  Saskia has really developed her Niche, specialises in 1-1 boxing, she has built her business offering great PT packages with clear business goals, her group classes are very popular, she continues to build on her skills with more study, offers connection to clients with group zoom chats and community walks and intends of further developing skills to help her communities mental health.”    She has a great energy and approach to learning. The emphasis on balance and the realisation that there is more to training than just exercise for your client indicates growth. Awesome to see your development since last year’s entry, taking on board the feedback given and integrating it into your business.


Personal Trainer of the Year

Donna Thomas

Donna has an overall incredible sense of business, is very professional, has amazing connections with clients and has great attention to detail. The judges loved how engaged she was. She looks like she lives and breathes her mahi, which is evident from her social media links.  One of her most important core client care values is building a strong client-coach relationship with its built-on trust empowerment and general care.  Donna understands that taha tinana/physical wellbeing is only one pillar of Te whare tapa wha and that taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro /mental and emotional wellbeing, taha whānau/family and social wellbeing need to be addressed to enable clients to be stronger than yesterday.

It’s amazing what a difference a year makes! I Great example of someone who takes feedback on board and applies the learning. This shows strong resilience!  

Brooke Collected Carens Award on her behalf

Facility Awards

Studio Facility of the Year 

Bad Ass Training 

Paula has clearly invested back into her business with new equipment and with great referrals from her very happy clients.  She is doing great things for her community while also ensuring that not only their “physical activity” is taken care of, she leads them to make some life-changing decisions. Now, there is a little story that goes along with this: one of the eagle-eyed judges noticed some fast food packaging in one of the entry photos and questioned what kind of trainer leaves junk food in plain sight and sends that photo as part of an award entry…?   When the site visit was done, the packaging was still on the counter – so the question was posted to Paula, “Why are there fast food packages on your counter?” her reply “Take a look inside they have been there 12 weeks”  – my clients look at these and agree –  what is inside can’t be food – food goes off, mouldy or smelly.  Her idea to let them discover for themselves that “junk” isnt “food” is a powerful thing! 

Franchise Facility of the Year

Flex Fitness Howick

Flex Fitness Howick has to be one of the luckiest facilities in NZ, not only because of its immaculate facility, variety of fitness offerings and incredible systems/processes but because of its leadership. By Stephanie, the manager, her passion, dedication, attention to detail, business acumen and overall inspiration is what we need more of in our industry.

There was an exceptional level of information put into this entry, and that information helped show the judges the growth of the facility, the growth of the team, and importantly the growth in its member numbers.

Independent Facility of the Year

Redefined Wellbeing Hub

Jimmy certainly has his finger on the pulse with every system/process at the cutting edge -communications, apps, retention processes …Redefined Wellbeing’s modelling makes it simple for staff and members to follow. You can see why there’s an exceptional NPS It’s people like Jimmy that make a massive difference in our industry. Loved the Kiwi culture coming through in this entry.

Chain Facility of the Year

Tepid Baths

Located in Central Auckland, Tepid Baths is like a utopia that allows people to escape from the “Hustle & Bustle” of the busy world and truly embraces excellence in all facets of wellbeing. From their beautifully well-maintained facility, and extensive variety of offerings to their incredibly well-managed systems/process. Tepid bath is simply in a league of its own.  This club stood out in a very competitive category with their intention to get the little things right every time.

Supreme Facility of the Year

Redefined Wellbeing Hub

This was a tough call with the calibre of all of the facility winners this year, choosing Supreme came down to a matter of a couple of points in overall scoring. A club who have truly redefined wellbeing – they have a professional mission statement, values and purpose! 

Right from the start, you can see incredible vision and feel the team engagement. Redefined Wellbeing has a beautiful entrance with ample parking, allowing for ease of access, this seems to be just the beginning of your journey to their facility. There’s a great connection with the shapes & lighting throughout the design, which gives a really unique feel and makes each room pop with its intended purpose.  

Some of the things that made Redefined Wellbeing stand out were:

The onboarding philosophy (9 Blue Zones) and incorporating that into every new member’s programming. Also, the delivery included te reo and ao Māori influences, with a simple ‘kia ora’ at the front desk… Putting staff first but really defining this with the wording in the entry and naming all the staff members’ names, you could get an authentic whānau feel. 

How the staff are trained and aligned with the bigger picture means that all staff are focused on the same thing. 

The KPIs were used to identify opportunities and strategies were installed to improve targeted KPIs.