Hamilton man Steve Harvey, 52, knew he faced serious health problems after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes1 and it would start affecting his life badly if he didn’t take action quickly.

Steve is one of around 240,000  people in New Zealand living with diabetes and with 40 new diagnoses every day, this number is likely to more than double in the next 20 years2.

On the way home from a doctor’s appointment Steve stopped at the Hamilton YMCA after hearing it offered fitness classes for bigger individuals and thought he’d give it a shot.

“It was pure luck that I walked in just five minutes before a Jumpstart class was beginning and decided to join in,” said Steve. 

“I had never heard of Jumpstart.  After literally walking off the street and into the programme I’ve attended weekly, when it’s running, as well as joined the gym.  I’ve also got a bad knee and osteoarthritis and Jumpstart has helped me get my health back,” says Steve.

Jumpstart was established in 2015 by the YMCA and healthcare company Pharmaco (NZ) Limited and  provides exercise, nutrition and lifestyle education for people with diabetes, or those who are pre-diabetic. 

Now onboard, a healthier lifestyle has taken off for Steve.  He has gone through two Jumpstart programmes and is making good progress managing his type 2 diabetes as well as his other health issues.

Steve has worked as an orderly at Waikato Hospital for over twenty years and enjoys his role, but his ability to do his job and support his family was at risk.

More than a year after his first Jumpstart programme, Steve has lost a lot of weight, 9.4 kgs in the last 3 months.  His goals are to continue going to the gym regularly and working towards an even better weight in 2018, after joining a Cardio and Reflex class and starting his third Jumpstart programme.

Steve gives credit to Emily Morris, Rei Manawaiti and the others in the Jumpstart group for making him feel, for the first time in his life, that he belongs in a gym. 

Jumpstart coordinator Emily says she has “watched Steve’s confidence grow and seen him slowly trust the process and that everyone’s journey is different”.

“He has embraced and laughed at my creative ways in helping him find himself again – from playing games like ‘tag’, hip-hop dancing, setting goals, long chats, choosing your own exercises and learning that you are in control of your own health”.

These personal exercise curriculums make working out more engaging and feel more like fun rather than a chore.

When asked what he likes most about Jumpstart, Steve says: “rather than being programme focused, it focuses on the individual and there’s so much support around you.”

Steve now goes to the gym five times a week and is supported by his two sons, ages 17 and 20, who also regularly join him, as well as his 12 year old daughter, making it a family effort to live healthier.

“One of my sons came up to me and said ‘I’m really proud of you dad’ and that was the best feeling in the world”, Steve says.  “I’m very grateful for how far I’ve come and couldn’t have done it without all the people around me.” 

“Jumpstart has introduced me to exercises and equipment I never would have heard of or used before.”  He enthusiastically comments “come to Jumpstart, it works!”

Jumpstart runs four programmes a year with the next one in Hamilton starting on Monday 30th April.  The programme has helped over 950 people in the last 3 years and operates at 16 YMCAs across the country. 

Common results from the programme include weight loss, lower waist measurements and blood pressure, improved mental health and confidence about a healthy future.  The weekly sessions help get people moving, no matter their size.  For people who are pre-diabetic, exercise and lifestyle programmes, like Jumpstart, can help delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Register for Jumpstart today>

About YMCA
YMCA is a not-for-profit community organisation that offers programmes for all age groups throughout New Zealand.  Its centres provide the community with a vast range of recreational and sport programmes catering to all abilities and include twelve fitness clubs, four aquatic facilities, two camps, two accommodation buildings, five licensed early childhood centres and eight indoor stadiums. Fitness is its largest business unit and it has achieved huge success by winning more national fitness awards than any other fitness club provider.

About Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd
Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd is a New Zealand owned and operated company that was established in 1967.  It provides a full range of sales and marketing services to international pharmaceutical, medical, diagnostic and scientific companies requiring representation in New Zealand and Australia.  Its service is supported by warehousing, distribution, regulatory and administration services.  Pharmaco Diabetes, a division of Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd, distributes a range of diabetes related products.  In 2012, Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd was awarded a Pharmac Sole Supply tender for the supply of Blood Glucose meters and test strips in New Zealand. 


1 – Diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to keep blood glucose (sugar) levels in the normal range. Everyone needs some glucose in their blood, but if it's too high it can damage your body over time.

Type 1 diabetes is an 'auto-immune' condition. Basically the body sets up an attack against the cells within it that make insulin. These cells are called beta cells and are isolated in the pancreas. The result is that the body does not produce any insulin (or very little) – (Diabetes NZ, http://www.diabetes.org.nz – accessed 26.4.17).

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body isn't able to use insulin properly, resulting in high blood glucose levels. This can lead to a wide range of health problems if not treated (www.healthnavigator.org.nz - accessed, 3.2.17).

2 - www.diabetes.org.nz - accessed 6.4.18