Parents providing healthy inspiration

Danny and Mel Burt, ready to compete in the New Zealand Fitness Model search

Cambridge parents can take inspiration from a local couple who recently stepped up their healthy habits for a competition taking place this weekend, inspiring families as ‘Mum and Dad’ fitness models.

Danny and Mel Burt signed up about 3 months ago for the new ‘Mums and Dads’ segment of the 2017 New Zealand Fitness Model Search, which takes place annually as part of the NZ Health Expo in Auckland this weekend.

“It took me over a month to talk her into it,” laughed Danny, who has built up his experience on stage doing physique body building competitions. “If someone had said to me a few years ago that I would be up on a stage doing this I would have laughed at them!”

“I wasn’t overly sure at first,” said Mel. “It’s really outside the comfort zone, but what I liked about the Mums and Dads side (of the competition), is that the judges aren’t necessarily looking for the same sort of criteria as the fitness models, it’s more about having a maintainable, sustainable lifestyle, they want someone who’s going to promote a healthy lifestyle. It’s not all about what you look like, it’s about how you lead your life, and if you can inspire.”

As part of the competition the Burts have been running a Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ontheroadtowellbeing  – which details their journey toward the competition, as well as providing inspiration and tips for other families and budding fitness fans.

Danny and Mel Burt at the start of their fitness journey in 2012

“We just want people to know, don’t let numbers dictate your lifestyle. I had never done fitness before 5 years ago, never, not even at school, and I’ve had 6 children!”

While the pair have stepped their fitness up a notch over recent weeks for the competition, their fitness journey has been five years in the making, starting when Mel’s mum had a non-fatal heart attack, prompting their youngest son to ask whether the same thing could happen to Mel.

“That just really struck a note,” said Mel. “I was a lot heavier then, I was just coming to the end of a three-year degree, had four kids at home, it was full-on, and I realised I was using food and drink as my reward. That was when I started, October 2012, and there’s been no turning back.”

When Mel first started, she couldn’t run between lampposts. “I used to walk from one lamp post to the next and then run from one to the next, and so on. In the end I built it up and did a half marathon about a year later,” said Mel.

At first, Danny hoped it was a phase that would soon pass, but Mel encouraged him to get fit too. “He kept saying ‘oh I’ll do it on Monday’ but he caught up in the end,” Mel laughed.

Mel said for her, starting the journey to a healthy living at age 41 wasn’t necessarily about how she looked, “but it’s more about having the healthy lifestyle, and for our children too. They’ve got the tools now to know the better healthy options.”

“And that’s the whole purpose really, to inspire the next generation,” added Danny.

“Start off slow and gradually, make it do-able and so you can sustain it,” said Mel. “Doing your exercise early is good, and planning your meals.”

The pair say they look forward to having a reward meal following the competition, and plan on enjoying a bit of “pub grub” afterwards, likely beer and burgers.

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