Collaboration changes lives
Junior Joe BBM 2 v2
Junior Joe was among the second group to join the From the Couch programme. He loved the vibe and non-judgmental atmosphere.

The lives of people with severe weight problems in South Auckland are changing thanks to a special partnership between Total Healthcare, Brown Buttabean Motivation and Te Whatu Ora.

It’s also helping us reach these high-risk patients who have avoided clinics for years and offer them GP, nurse and health coach support in Brown Buttabean Motivation (BBM) gyms through our service provider Local Doctors.

The programme started in April 2022 and is now supporting more than 50 people who attend free BBM gym From the Couch sessions in Manukau that include exercise, motivation and nutrition classes.

At his heaviest, James McDiarmid was 280kg and he couldn’t stand for the duration of his son’s rugby game. He knew something had to change.

Within 12 weeks of starting the programme he lost 25kg and also felt happier and healthier

"It's not about losing weight, it's really not, that's just a bonus for me. My mental state has been a game-changer."

Motivation from respected trainers

James says the BBM staff, like Phil Tele'a who has lost more than 135kg, really motivate him.

“Like me the trainer Phil was 280 plus and he’s down to my goal weight. It makes you push seeing him. If he can do it, why can’t we?”

James has been trying to find somewhere he felt comfortable training and get support to change his frame of mind.

“A lot if it’s mental, you shut down for so long. To people who are overweight every day is a workout and you don’t know what that feels like unless you have been there. That’s why we respect people like Phil,” James says.

For people like Junior Joe, who has “signed up for most gyms and walked out”, the courses at BBM’s Manukau headquarters give them hope and results.

“I like the vibe. I don’t get that in a normal gym and I get judged,” Junior says.

“I come from a family that loves to eat and at weekends there is a big feed. I want to lose weight. I’ve been stuck on the same weight for six or seven years. Ever since I came here, I broke that cycle. I feel better and I am more active. I’m eating less and exercising more.” 

Gratitude for a changed life

BBM administrator Jorja James, who is also a team leader and takes some sessions herself, started the From the Couch programme in 2019 after seeing the participants success stories on Facebook.

She has a heart condition and was a type 2 diabetic for 15 years. Jorja couldn’t walk anywhere before she joined the programme and used a walking frame.

Jorja wasn’t expected to reach her 40th but is now almost 50 and reversed her diabetes. "My kids are forever saying how grateful they are to Dave and the team for changing my life because now they've got mummy and mummy is here for all their kids."

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