Sharing the love: A yoga teacher and fitness all-rounder reflects on helping others succeed
Now at the stage where she has achieved many of her big goals, Zuri has switched lanes to focus on helping others in their professional development journey, with the help of on-job qualifications.
Zuri owns yoga and Pilates studio Z Health on the Kāpiti Coast – she has been a fitness instructor for the past 30 years and a yoga teacher for 20. She has always supplemented her fitness career with other work, to help balance out the physical demands of working in exercise.
Six years ago she saw a job for a lifeguard team leader based at Ōtaki pool, and thought it could fit in well with her teaching schedule.
Before long Zuri was teaching aquafitness as well, and most recently she has added on the role of aquatics training coordinator working across the Kāpiti Coast pools – all while continuing to run her yoga business.
Zuri won the Exercise New Zealand Yoga Teacher of the Year award in 2021, and this big achievement prompted her to reflect back on her career and how far she had come.
“I’ve always been very goal-focused, and this year I want to just be. I feel like I am in a really good space in so many ways, and now my focus and intention is around supporting other people,” Zuri says.
“We have both younger and older staff, and I am passionate about motivating all our people to do well in whatever they choose.”
This makes the role of aquatics training coordinator a perfect fit. In her role, Zuri is tasked with supporting staff completing on-job qualifications such as the Skills Active apprenticeship in Swim and Water Safety Teacher.
She is the first port of call for the swim teacher apprentices – booking their extension courses, keeping an eye on workloads, helping to navigate the paperwork – and she’s also there to problem-solve, keep them focused, and give them a boost when they need it.
“Sometimes inspiring one in the team has a positive effect on all staff,” Zuri says.
If one learner has zoomed through their qualification with flying colours, she will buddy them up with someone else who is finding it harder, to provide encouragement and direction.
“My job is to keep things ticking over, but I’m not necessarily going to be the best mentor for the learner. The best mentor is someone who has completed the apprenticeship successfully.”
When someone is struggling with their training, it’s also important for employers to listen and make space for honesty, Zuri says.
“Listen to your staff. How can you best support them on their journey? If someone has signed up to the apprenticeship but we see they are not going online and not doing the work, that says to me something is not right.
“It might be – especially with the pandemic – all too much. Is it not the right time? Can they take a break, focus on something else? It is about giving staff the opportunity, and all the support they need, and having those honest conversations.”
You can’t put a price on personal and professional growth
Zuri says although learning and growth isn’t easy, it’s worth it. Throughout her career she has invested a lot of her own money in training and developing herself.
“Yoga teacher training, Pilates training, industry training, life coaching – I’ve always looked at how I can develop myself further, whether in my business or as a person. And I’ve never once questioned the value of that.”
Zuri believes everything in life happens for a reason, and she is exactly where she needs to be right now, with both her fitness and education careers beautifully aligned.
“Winning Yoga Teacher of the Year was the ultimate for me. That was my first accolade. It took me 30 years to get there! If I had dropped out of the industry for five or 10 years, I would never have got there.
“I think that’s what I would say to all the learners out there: If you believe in yourself and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then keep at it. It may take you 30 years to get where you want to be, but you will do it.”
Media contact for Skills Active: Esther McLaren | email@example.com | 021 195 5127
Skills Active Aotearoa is the transitional industry training organisation for recreation, exercise, sport and performing arts. We are a non-profit organisation, 50% owned by Māori shareholders, and funded by government to support Aotearoa businesses, organisations, iwi and community enterprises to get their staff and volunteers trained and qualified.