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Southland woman starts fitness classes for stressed farmers

By Amber-Leigh Woolf - stuff.co.nz

When Dacre woman Tammy Vincent saw isolation, depression and hardship in her community she decided to do something about it. 

Vincent is running exercise classes in Edendale to relieve and support workers in the dairy industry suffering from mental illness. 

The classes target a community hit hard by low dairy payouts, Vincent said. 

"I thought if I can run a fitness class and get more people in that would help. Better exercise is a really good way to increase your endorphins and is important for people who are feeling down, especially during winter."

Sometimes poor mental health in the farming industry went unnoticed, Vincent said. "It could help people who might have gone down a really bad road."

Vincent said she and her partner had suffered from depression and she wanted to help others in the same situation. 

The classes would be held at Edendale rugby grounds. Fifteen people had already signed up and paid for the lessons and she was looking for equipment to use, Vincent said. 

Most of those signed to the classes were women, Vincent said.  

"If it's good for the women and their mental health, it can flow on [to their families] and create a positive atmosphere." 

Vincent became heavily into exercise in 2014 and then went on to study a diploma in sport and exercise science at the Southern Institute of Technology. She saw the need for exercise classes closer to home, Vincent said. 

"It's the same with a lot of people in the Edendale area. I'm not a fitness freak or a gym bunny but I wanted to go and do something a few times a week. But there's nothing to do in the Edendale area."

As a first step, Vincent organised for her personal trainer to drive to Edendale three times a week to hold classes for the community. Now she would use her own skills to run classes herself, Vincent said. 

"I enrolled for the Diploma Level 5. It taught me the basics of how to do the exercises properly and teach others how to do them... Now I want to go back next year and get more technical in how to run classes and work with older people and specific groups of people." 

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