The Exercise Association of New Zealand


Mid Thomas – Savelio


As a board member for ExerciseNZ, I will bring a multifaceted skill set that aligns to the right personal attributes—starting with a robust academic history completing an MBA, achieving top Strategic Student for my year. A 30-year career in Fitness, Club Management and Ownership, National Training Manager for Les Mills New Zealand, and International Master Trainer for Les Mills. More recently, I have founded four successful startups and currently Chair two boards, Rotary Hutt Valley and Women of Worth. My skills and experience are only equalled by my rich and deep passion for developing those in the fitness industry.

Reece Zondag


Reece has been in the fitness industry for more than 30 years. He currently works largely as a consultant to the industry with clients in New Zealand, Australia and China.

Prior to consulting, Reece was the CEO of Les Mills New Zealand for some 11 years. Reece has operational experience ranging from being a group fitness teacher, PT, gym floor staff, management, owner operator of a small club and large gym general manager.

Chrissy Newall

I have been an owner-operator of a successful fitness business for 13 years. The industry has changed and evolved so much over the years that on a personal and professional level I’ve continued to do the same. I am passionate about our Napier  community and am vested in opening doors for any person from every background to have access to exercise.

We have navigated some very challenging times and I want to keep bringing that message of exercise and mental health management to create strong and capable communities. I can bring an independent gym owner view to the board and would love the opportunity to work with an amazing group of exercise professionals to help bring health and fitness options to all New Zealanders by supporting Exercise NZ members and their businesses.

Ish cheyne

Ish Cheyne’s fitness career spans over 25 years, and he is currently the Head of Fitness for Les Mills New Zealand’s Senior Leadership Team. Ish has a strong skill set in change management and operational strategy and is known as a key influencer in the fitness industry.

He is an accomplished communicator and keynote speaker and presents internationally in areas of Leadership, Fitness strategy, Personal Training and Sales. Ish has an innovative approach to doing things ‘outside the box’ and has developed paradigm shifts around the way Les Mills runs its fitness departments.

Jaci Griffin

I have been fortunate to have worked in the fitness industry for over 30 years. Every day I feel excited to be a part of this industry knowing that my role has a positive effect on our members and community. A career in fitness is not about the money – you need to truly care about others, be inclusive of every culture, religion and sexual orientation and embrace change.

I started my career in a community gym and then moved to Les Mills and spent over 8 years managing the Auckland City Club. I then moved to open Les Mills in New Lynn and have spent over 18 years managing this club which ranks no 1 on ROI, staff satisfaction, NPS and membership growth in the Les Mills group. I have worked in all areas of the gym and therefore have a deep understanding of the procedures and culture needed to be successful. I will commit my experience, passion and energy to Exercise NZ as it works to improve our amazing industry.

jacquie hibbs

Physical activity is essential for overall health, wellbeing and happiness. What we do and how we deliver as an industry is fundamental to achieve this. My contribution to the board and health of our industry is over 25 years of experience from ‘grassroots’ as a fitness/group fitness instructor and personal trainer plus management and operational experience managing programmes and services across a portfolio of recreation and sport centres for Christchurch City Council. This includes setting strategic direction, developing business plans, budgets and KPI’s to ensure services remain fit for purpose, maximise utilisation and revenue opportunities at optimal cost. I completed my Masters in Business with Distinction in 2019 with a project focus on fitness service delivery.

Peter Fraser

He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata…It’s all about the people and unlocking pathways so they can become better versions of themselves. This is what has driven me my entire life and why I’m just as passionate now (if not more so) than the day I started in this wonderful industry 25+ years ago.

I’m currently the owner-operator of BFT in Nelson, complete consultancy work for several fitness clubs & educational providers. My previous experience includes National Enrolment/Sales Manager for Up Education, General Manager of NZIS/NZMA, Club Manager Les Mills Taranaki Street/Extreme, Regional Sales Management, Group Fitness Instructing (LMNZ Squad), Personal Training, and I have previous board experience.

To me, being part of the Exercise NZ Board means understanding the importance of embracing Te Whare Tapa Whā and supporting everyone who is passionate about making a difference in those 4 pillars so we can continue to improve the lives of New Zealanders  (that’s everyone in Aotearoa).

Tash Columbus

Ko Te Kohurau te maunga Ko Waitaki te awa, Ko Uenuku te Marae, Ko Moeraki te runaka, Ko Kai Tahu te iwi, Ko Tash Columbus ahau

I am the owner and manager of a women’s studio, #teamtash Training, in Dunedin. Our specialty is Group Fitness.

I started in the industry in 2013, opening my own facility in 2017 where we currently sit with a few hundred members and 5 coaches. In 2022 our facility won Exercise NZ Studio of the Year and also took out Supreme Facility of the Year.

I am hugely passionate about our industry and making sure the smaller facilities make up over 50% !! -have a voice. I want decisions that are made to have us ALL in mind, not just the “big” players. I was also the Otago EPNA ambassador for 3 years and am currently on the independent facility operator’s council.

I am new to the governance scene, proudly taking a place on Te Hou Ora board in March 2023- however, I am not a yes person and love the chance to make an impact.




Previous owner of fitness centres in Christchurch for 15 years, and has worked in the industry for over 20 years. Involved with ExerciseNZ since 1998, and President from 1999-2005.

Richard has a Bachelor of Science in Statistics, and completed a Masters degree (MBA) specialising in the fitness industry. Richard presents internationally on fitness industry trends and has a passion for helping businesses realise their potential.



Nigel Harris is a Senior Lecturer in fitness and exercise science AUT University.

Nigel brings a wealth of industry and education experience, having been on the ExerciseNZ board for over five years (in two separate sessions) and is keen to further contribute as an advisor to ExerciseNZ.

Ashleigh Broadhurst

Ashleigh is dedicated to providing purposeful support to our community and whanau, fostering greater physical activity. Ashleigh’s commitment extends from the simplicity of a leisurely walk to the intensity of a rigorous gym session, all in pursuit of enhancing both physical and mental well-being. As a passionate creative, Ashleigh is driven to innovate and inspire positive change in our community’s health and wellness sector.


Ben Mann

Ben has spent more than a decade engaged in various ownership and senior leadership roles within the health and fitness industry globally.

Ben is dedicated to the organisation’s development and expansion, as well as the growth of the New Zealand exercise industry, the exercise professionals within it, and the promotion of exercise to the community.


KAIWHAKAHAERE – Māori Partnerships and Capability

Ko Kahuranaki ko Ruapehu ōku maunga tupuna.  Ko Ngaruroro ko Whangaehu ōku awa. Ko Omahu ko Marangai ōku marae. Ko Takitimu ko Aotea ōku waka. Ko Ngāti Kahungunu ko Ngāti Rangi ōku iwi. Ko Kahungunu rāua ko Te Mātenga Taiaroa ōku tūpuna. Ko Benjamin Hanara tōku ingoa.

Ben joins us as Kaiwhakahaere to lead the crucial mission of getting more Māori exercising in Aotearoa. After gaining both a Bachelor and Postgraduate Diploma of Physical Education Sport & Exercise science, a Master of Science, to a recently submitted PhD thesis in Indigenous studies, Ben brings a fresh perspective into the Exercise New Zealand team through a Kaupapa Māori lens.

With a strong passion for his people and his culture, Ben has honed robust research and praxis skills over an extensive period of involvement in Kaupapa Māori research. His goal is to leverage these skills to elevate Māori cultural capability within the Exercise Industry in Aotearoa.

Ben has gained both national and international titles in powerlifting, played representative rugby and rugby league, enjoys diving for kaimoana and continues to engage in any sport that crosses his path. Ben now lives in Ōtaki Beach with his partner Terina Raureti and their 2-year old son Taiaroa.  


Chris joins us with a wealth of experience from a variety of industries in roles involving leadership, coordination, strategy, and nurturing long-term connections.

With strong planning and implementation expertise and a highly effective communicator, Chris loves a task and thrives on getting stuff done.

He was a provincial Basketball rep for a decade, a senior Cricket, Indoor cricket, and Touch representative, and a former Basketball Coach and Referee. Chris has also been a Les Mills member for 30 years.

Qualified in Fitness Industry Training, he was a Circuit Instructor and PT at Les Mills Christchurch back in the day.  He was also Club Manager at Les Mills Ferrymead until the earthquakes hit and shut the club down for good.

A few of Chris’s favourite things are Travel, visiting 35-plus countries, Music and concerts, most sports, Biking, Hiking, and Family – with two tremendous teenagers, (believe it or not!) Molly 18 and Charlie 16, his wonderful companion and Travel Consultant wife, Helen, and his Huntaway, Kramer Greg Ashton.


Specialising in web support, registration of exercise facilities and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses, Project development and helps Exercise New Zealand with the running of it’s national conference FitEx.

Charlie first started in the industry in 2005 as a Sales Manager for successful facilities in Christchurch. After a short break away he came back to manage two facilities in Christchurch before coming on board with REPs in July 2008.

Lydia Sparkle

Lydia has joined Exercise New Zealand after a lengthy tenure as a team supervisor and administrator at Alpine Ice Sports Centre.

While studying for the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Administration and Technology) – Level 3, she was recognised as one of the Top Performing Business Students at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

With an abundance of customer service experience and strong communication skills, Lydia brings a passionate, organized, and proactive approach to her role as Event Coordinator and Administrator.
Residing in Ōtautahi with her husband and three cats, Lydia finds joy in live music, morning yoga, and the art of a well-timed pun or dad joke.

nathan burrows

Nathan has been with ExerciseNZ since 2000 where he worked part-time, while studying towards his BA and Graduate Diploma in Teaching.

After completion of study, he became a full-time employee and has held many different roles in both REPs and ExerciseNZ over the past twenty plus years with the organisation. 

Nathan’s main roles are around, finance, supporting and training the team, and assisting with event coordination.



Nikki has worked around the world in the fitness industry for nearly 30 years as a group exercise instructor, personal training, studio co-ordinator and small business owner and landed in NZ in 2007. Since then Nikki has contracted to many NZ facilities and enjoys a large exercise network.

She started in her Auckland based role with ExerciseNZ in October 2018. As Nikki loves talking exercise, her aim is to connect as many facilities and independent exercise providers as she can, she looks forward to meeting you soon.

sean thomas

Sean is a web developer with a background in enterprise software systems. Since January 2020 he has worked part time to maintain many websites including ExerciseNZ, REPs and YogaNZ.

Sean enjoys developing large end to end systems and solutions engineering. These talents will be put to use as the EXNZ family of websites are re-branded.


ExerciseNZ have two councils to help give direct guidance from industry.


A voice for independent facility owners.

To get involved, email richard@exercisenz.org.nz


A voice for emerging leaders (those under 30).

To get involved, email ben@exercisenz.org.nz

Rich Ellis


With 15 years in the industry and a prior 12-year business leadership background, Rich seamlessly unites past experience and current passion.

His journey from general manager to a distinguished mentor highlights a profound capacity for transformation.

Armed with a degree in Business Studies and Marketing, Rich is a beacon for solo practitioners, offering tailored strategies that amplify vitality and purpose for individuals and businesses alike.

Moana Williams


Moana began her fitness journey at 17 and, with 31 years in the industry, her passion is unwavering. Based in Christchurch, she leads Bodyfix, a haven established in 2011 to make exercise accessible and inviting for all.

Moana believes in exercise as a pathway to a vibrant, happy life. Bodyfix, born from this belief, is more than a gym—it’s a community where members are empowered, supported, and celebrated. With a team of 20 dedicated professionals, Bodyfix is a testament to Moana’s vision of making fitness a joyful, communal experience, echoing her lifelong commitment to fostering health, happiness, and connection.

Tash Columbus


Ko Tash Columbus tōku ingoa

Ko Aoraki toūku maunga

Ko Waitaki toūku awa

Ko Uenuku tōku marae

Ko Kāi Tahu tōku iwi

Tihei Mauriora!

I am the owner and Manager of a women’s studio, #teamtash Training in Dunedin. Where our speciality is Group Fitness.

I started in the the industry at Les Mills in 2013, moving to my own facility in 2017 where we currently sit with 300 members and 5 coaches.  In 2022 our facility won Exercise NZ Studio of the year and also took out Supreme Facility of the year.

I am looking forward to working with the Independent Facility operators council. I bring a passion of kaupapa Māori and I have a firm understanding of the struggles we can face when running a boutique studio.


Geena Pannett


After completing her Bachelor’s studies in Sport and Exercise Science and Nutrition at AUT, Geena ventured into the fitness industry, taking on roles as a Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, and Nutrition Coach in commercial gyms. Fueled by her passion for high-performance team sports and community health, she directed her career towards Les Mills Group Fitness Management. Geena presently serves as the National Group Fitness Manager at Les Mills New Zealand, steering the group fitness strategy and overseeing a high-performing team of Group Fitness Managers, the National Trainer, Assessor and Presenter Squad, and the nationwide Group Fitness Instructor community.

Tayla Smith


My passion for driving and supporting physical activity throughout multiple communities arose while completing my Masters degree in Health Science in which I majored in Community Health.

I have previously worked at Sport Canterbury in the Green Prescription team to support a range of individuals and whānau throughout Ōtautahi to flourish through physical activity. I am now fortunate enough to be working at Christchurch City Council as an Active Communities Coordinator in the Recreation and Sports Unit. This involves supporting the engagement of communities to develop, co-design, implement and promote accessible, inclusive/diverse programmes, with the aim to improve physical activity, health and wellbeing outcomes.

Tyler Warren


A dedicated professional with a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Recreation from Auckland University of Technology (2017). Proven experience as a junior program facilitator and coach for Waikato Bay of Plenty Football, coupled with experience in a graduate position at the Toi-Ohomai Windermere campus High Performance NZ accredited gym.

Currently serving as the Team Leader of Fitness for the Whakatāne District Council, successfully managing a thriving 600+ member gym and overseeing diverse fitness programs, including land and aqua group fitness classes. I also have a commitment to community engagement through partnerships Waiariki Whānau Mentoring, youth programs with Te Puna Ora O Mataatua and as a guest lecturer for Te Wānanga O Aotearoa Certificate in Fitness level 4. In addition, I am currently working with a local high school to establish a high-performance academy for athletes between 13-18.