Erin McMenamin (72) of Lower Hutt, Wellington has a health history that shows she’s a fighter, from operations on her knees and hands to battling cancer, undergoing spinal and living with diabetes.

In 2014 Erin was diagnosed with bowel cancer and battled hard with that illness. She then had to undergo spinal surgery but still she’s recovered enough to get on with daily life with minimal disruption.

Erin was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but instead of being knocked by that news she looked for how to manage it.

“I’d been looking for ways to get more exercise every week,” Erin says, “and then I saw an advert for Jumpstart on a hoarding board near the YMCA one day. I signed up and started the programme and it’s been a great fit for me, so I’ve stuck with it.”

Jumpstart is a nationwide programme that was established in 2015 by the YMCA and healthcare company Pharmaco (NZ) Limited to provide exercise, nutrition and lifestyle education for people with diabetes, or those who are pre-diabetic. It operates over ten weeks and is run at 14 YMCAs around the country.

“Before Jumpstart my health was not as good as it should be,” says Erin. “Jumpstart gave me a supportive space to make the progress I wanted.”

YMCA Wellington Manager Debbie Houston-Tupou comments: “I’ve seen Erin do way more than she thought she could ever achieve. She’s attended all the educational workshops, met with dieticians, done the readings and has thoroughly enjoyed being in the Jumpstart programme.

“She’s just lovely and gets really involved in everything. She’s gone through so much and really will give anything a go. I take my hat off to her.

“There have been so many times where I’ve suggested a new exercise and Erin will say ‘I don’t think I can do that but I’ll give it a go’ and she fights through it! She really can do anything if she just gives it a try.”

Erin says she loved the individualised programme that was laid out for her: “I really appreciated that they sorted it out for my specific needs. It made me want to keep coming back.

When asked how her journey with Jumpstart has been she responded: “It’s been very interesting and has reinforced what I already knew, but wasn’t carrying out”.

“Jumpstart has helped me improve my health - my blood sugars are coming down really well and overall I have more energy,” Erin comments. “I think it’s also helping my legs strengthen and eventually I am hoping it will help with my balance.”

Erin feels she has done what she needed to do, but she has amazed the YMCA Wellington staff, and wowed her physiotherapist who has said she would never have imagined she could make such improvements.

Erin is set to graduate Jumpstart soon and she's determined to keep working towards strengthening her body and living healthier. She has already lost a lot of weight and is still going. The YMCA Wellington staff will support her every step of the way as she continues her journey.

Jumpstart runs four programmes a year. The programme has helped almost 1,000 people in the last 3 years and operates at 14 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.