Community Heroes: Rangi Stevenson and Raewyn McLachlan

This week the Chronicle had a chat with Rangi Stevenson and Raewyn McLachlan. The couple provide members of the community with a safe and supportive environment to work on their personal health and fitness. Despite their demanding professional obligations, every week they open up their home to provide a fun place to get fit.

Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and the fitness work you do with the community?

We work with a wide range of ages from 15 to the oldest being 75 all with different fitness levels.  In addition to taking 8-10 fitness sessions from our home every week, we both also have full time jobs.   As you know Raewyn is one of our local police officers having worked in Raglan for 12 years.  I myself, work for the Waikato D.H.B as a Crisis Support Worker for the last 20 years dealing with people with drug,  alcohol and mental health issues.

What motivated you to focus on starting your fitness classes?

We have both experienced family and friends who have passed away due to health issues and are very passionate about the health and wellbeing of our community.

Tell us a little about your classes:

We have only recently stopped Ragbo due to changes at the Town Hall, and to focus on our HIIT sessions.  More recently, we have also incorporated Circuit training into our HIIT sessions due to the high demand from our participants.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  Participants are challenged to train on cardio machines at high effort for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then go again for 20 seconds, keeping this high intensity training going for around 28 minutes.   At the end of the 28-minute cardio session, we then complete about half an hour of weight resistance training using lightweight dumb-bells with exercises designed for toning and shaping rather than muscle bulking.  We finish with planks for core strengthening and then a cool down/stretch together.  Fruit is offered at the end of the session as a reward for a job well done.

We prefer to train with smaller groups of people to ensure we can focus on each and every person, making sure they learn the exercises properly, especially the resistance exercises, and to keep the sessions challenging and fun.

We train a wide range of people: senior school students, nurses, physios, mums, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, farmers, and personal fitness trainers. We also train fire brigade and out of town police officers.  Our local ones are too scared.  Haha.

The majority of our people are women, but more men are coming along with their partners, which always makes for interesting competition.

We set up a monthly booking system, as with limited room we can only train a set number of people. We also work very closely with other personal trainers in the community; Sophie Von Huben and Helen Green also offer our community a great service in people’s health and wellbeing.

Have you both always been fitness oriented? Do you do any extra training just for yourselves above and beyond what you do with the members of the community?

Yes, we have always been fitness orientated. My fitness regime started when I was in the Army in the early ‘80s.  It taught me discipline, determination and perseverance, which I took into my rugby league training while living in Australia.  It was here that my love of resistance weight training started and which Raewyn and I both continue to do in the Raglan Health & Fitness Trust gym nearly every day.  I have trained and coached young men in rugby over the years and now weight train some of the women who attend our HIIT and circuit sessions.  I’ve been a Trustee at the Raglan Health & Fitness gym under the town hall since 1991.   It was at the gym that Raewyn and I met.  We train almost every day at the gym.  Sunday is our only day off – bacon and egg day!  We are both well into our 50s – we train hard together for  around 10-12 hours a week, depending on our work schedules.

Raewyn has also been right into her fitness having played representative Netball and Touch for Waikato for about 6 years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.  She also went on to be selected to play Touch for the NZ Mixed team.   She continued playing competitive netball when she moved to Raglan, captaining a very successful Raglan Senior Netball team for several years.

What do you enjoy most about your classes?

We have built up a fantastic relationship with the people we are training.  It has been great for Raewyn, as people see her outside her police status.

What are some of the highlights from your years of providing fitness services to members of the community? Any cool success stories?

We have lost count of how many people we have trained. We are very passionate in what we do and the people we work with inspire us as much as we inspire them.  It is so satisfying to see the ladies (and guys) improve, becoming fitter, stronger and more confident.

We have had so many great stories of how our fitness sessions have helped them not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.  Many say they have become better mums, better partners, better people through coming to our sessions.  Some have said that the sessions have changed their lives for the better.

Many are new mums and just want to feel better about themselves. Some are not so young, but still want to challenge themselves – to see what they can achieve.  Some say they’ve been able to rid themselves of their unhealthy addictions as they’ve now become addicted to HIIT and the weights training and the buzz they get out of the sessions.   We are true believers of healthy bodies, healthy minds.

My boss from the Crisis team at the WAIKATO  D.H.B has been able to adjust my working roster so I’m able to take our sessions.

Check out ‘Raglan Ragbo’ on Facebook for more info, training motivation and session times.

“Their exercise routine is fun. It covers the whole spectrum from cardio to muscle toning, shaping and stretching, and it’s never boring as there are several different machines to choose from and they change up their toning and shaping routine all the time. After the class, we get treated to cold, fresh fruit, and can jump in the hot spa overlooking the beautiful wetlands behind their house if we want to. 

“But it’s really much more than that. It’s the camaraderie, the friendship, the kinship with them and all the others that come and train. It’s like an extended family, and we really have Rangi and Raewyn’s genuine kindness, care and generosity to thank for this. I have been training with them for about a year and a half now, during which time I’ve met so many great people and made some really warm friendships. And every summer they strengthen this community bond further by treating us “extended family” to a festive hangi.

“I am sure I am reflecting many others’ feelings when I say this – we are lucky to have them in our community!” Said regular attendee, Linda Bulk.