Crusaders and UC team up to target fans’ fitness
Professional rugby players are not the only ones who have been working up a sweat in the Crusaders’ high performance gym. Local rugby fans have been training there, too, as participants in a healthy lifestyles initiative called RUFIT-NZ. The University of Canterbury (UC) is working alongside the Crusaders to investigate the programme’s impact, with UC Sport Science students making a positive contribution.
UC Master of Sport Science student Sophie Mitchell-Findlater puts some men through their paces in the UC Sport Science lab. She is working with the RUFIT programme as part of her internship with the Crusaders.
“The RUFIT programme has, without doubt, been the most rewarding coaching I have ever done,” says Sophie.
“I’ve had some incredible feedback from the guys, not just in terms of physiological things like weight loss but holistic wellbeing, too. It has been a huge motivator for the guys having a team to train with every week and there is also that huge bonus of being able to train in the gym used by their local heroes.”
Rugby Fans in Training New Zealand (RUFIT-NZ) was inspired by a similar programme targeting overweight football fans in Scotland. Following a successful pilot here, the Health Research Council (HRC) backed RUFIT-NZ with a nationwide, $1.2million three-year trial. Highlanders’ and Blues’ fans are also taking part, with research support from the universities of Otago and Auckland respectively.
Run over 12 weeks, each weekly RUFIT session in Canterbury includes a one-hour workshop on health and lifestyle change followed by an hour of group training.