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CLIENT NEWS - Type 1 diabetic takes on challenge for charity

Type 1 diabetic takes on challenge for charity

Type 1 diabetic Ricky Winikerei is taking part in a nationwide fitness challenge to help raise money for Diabetes NZand educate people about the condition. 

The 39-year-old Waikato-based musician was diagnosed three years ago with diabetes. This week he started Anytime Fitness NZ’s 28-day Winter Kick-Start Programme at the franchise’s Cambridge club.

The campaign aims to raise $30,000 to combat our country’s fastest growing health issue. All proceeds from the sale of a special eBook will go to Diabetes NZ.

“I was feeling tired all the time, always going to the bathroom and I craved sugar,” says Ricky, as he explains what signs first led him to visit his GP.

“I would finish a gig and there was nothing open late at night other than fast food outlets. My water intake was low and I only wanted juice or sugary drinks.

“Being diagnosed as Type 1 has meant a lifestyle change for me. But I’ve learnt that you can’t let it rule your life and stop you doing the things you love,” he says.

“It is a balancing act in terms of fitness, diet, work and day-to-day jobs and making sure I keep my insulin levels in check. I heard horror stories about how hard it is to balance exercising with your insulin so I stopped doing any physical activity until I could get a handle on how to manage my condition.”

Ricky says he went through a period post-diagnosis when he felt quite down.

“It was easy to sit at home and not do anything, but that’s a lot of time to think about my situation and it starts to play on your mind.

“As the year went on and after learning more about it, I got back into exercise and realized that I could use it as a tool to help manage my diabetes. Getting into sports and work again was not only good for me physically, but the social side of it helped too.”

As Ricky got used to his diagnosis and learnt more about it, he felt confident sharing his story with others.  

“I haven’t hidden it. I don’t want to end up dead or in hospital. The more people I can tell about my condition the better as they’ll be there to help me. At the same time, I can educate my friends and family about diabetes too.”

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition. It cannot be prevented, but it can be managed through a combination of medication, healthy food choices and exercise. Of all the people with diabetes, it is estimated that about 10% of them have Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. For many people, it can be prevented through following a healthy lifestyle.

Ricky’s motivation for doing the challenge and supporting the campaign is not just about raising money.

“Most people don’t understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, or they assume people have diabetes because of their weight or their race,” he says. “It comes down to education. I hope I can help challenge the stigma around diabetes and dispel some of the myths surrounding the condition.”

Ricky started his training this week with a fitness consultation by an experienced coach at Anytime Fitness Cambridge. This process made sure his workout was tailored to his fitness level and will help minimize any risk to Ricky’s health because of his illness.

“It will be great to improve my muscle tone, lose a few kilos and feel good about looking after myself,” he says. “I’m not the type of person to put myself out there, so this process will challenge me and put me out of my comfort zone. But I’m prepared to do it if it means educating others.”

Ricky will be sharing his progress on Facebook. You can follow his journey on Facebook - @AnytimeFitnessNZ and @DiabetesNZ.

The Anytime Fitness NZ’s 28-Day Winter Kick-Start Programme can be purchased online for $19.00 by visiting All proceeds go to Diabetes NZ.