Adaptive Whakauru Tahi: A Fitness Revolution in Hawke’s Bay

by Daisy

Inclusive fitness charity Adaptive Whakauru Tahi has seen remarkable growth since its pilot programme in 2022. Originally started by a Hawke’s Bay gym owner with a dream of inclusive fitness, the charity has expanded from just six clients to a robust programme serving 130 clients. This initiative has gained recognition as a leader in inclusion, alongside prestigious organizations like NZ Rugby and Whanake o te Kōpara (Women in Sport).

Transforming Lives Through Fitness:

The success of Adaptive Whakauru Tahi is evident in the beaming smiles of participants like Kale Taylor, who actively engages in circuit training. Each week, Taylor and hundreds of others with both visible and invisible disabilities gather in various spaces around Hawke’s Bay to participate in group fitness classes. This inclusive approach was largely unheard of in the region two years ago.


Community class trainer Natalie Spraggon plays a crucial role, helping participants like Taylor stay active. “They self-manage, and I just jump in and help,” she explains. The inclusive circuits resemble those found in any gym across New Zealand, focusing on social benefits as well as routine and fitness.


A Vision of Inclusivity:

Founder Leana Becker, a former gym owner, identified a significant need for inclusive movement opportunities within the Hawke’s Bay community. Her passion project, Adaptive Whakauru Tahi, aims to provide the same fitness opportunities and experiences for people with disabilities as those without, within a supportive environment.


Becker’s inspiration came from a young client with Down Syndrome. After taking her to a kid’s Crossfit competition, Becker realized the need for more inclusive options. “As a person from the non-disabled community, we have many different options and price points, but for someone with a disability, it’s not that simple,” Becker notes.

Starting with a pilot programme in 2022 that included one trainer and six clients, Adaptive Whakauru Tahi now runs 23 sessions, welcoming over 130 people each week. The sessions are diverse, offering sensory dance, functional fitness, and seated exercises. Additionally, the charity adapts to the needs of its clients, sometimes even bringing classes to those who cannot attend in person.

Community Support and Recognition:

As a registered charity, Adaptive Whakauru Tahi relies on funding to sustain its services. The charity has received substantial backing from lotteries, Tū Manawa Sport Hawke’s Bay, Hastings District Council, and Trust House Foundation. This support has been instrumental in accommodating the growing demand for inclusive fitness services.

Adaptive Whakauru Tahi’s impact extends beyond Hawke’s Bay. The organization was recognized on a national scale, being nominated for an award from Sports NZ and becoming finalists in the Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion category, competing against major national organizations like NZ Rugby and Whanake o te Kōpara.

The Reward of Inclusion:

For Becker and her team, the real reward lies in seeing the positive impact on their clients. “It’s rewarding seeing people with disabilities thrive in a community setting that is not designed specifically for them. The flow-on effect is incredible,” Becker says.


Adaptive Whakauru Tahi’s journey from a small pilot programme to a nationally recognized inclusive fitness charity is a testament to the power of community and the importance of inclusivity in fitness. As the organization continues to grow, it brings hope and health to many individuals, proving that with dedication and support, everyone can have access to fitness opportunities.


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