Fitness and Health

Henry Faafiri returns to match fit

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The former Warrior was forced to step down from Match Fit this season due to health concerns. He told Selah Jane Hopgood on tonight’s episode the story behind his surprise comeback.

The classic proverb “Start Monday” when you want to lose weight or get healthier is something Henry Faafili is familiar with.

The former Warriors retired from professional rugby league in Ireland in 2016 and returned to Aotearoa with his wife Amy, spending a year in Wellington before moving to Tauranga where he raised his children for four years.

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After finishing his career as a footballer, becoming a father to two sons, living most of his life in Tamaki Makaulau, adapting to a new city and becoming head coach and mentor of the Tauranga Boxing Academy, Fa Affili is time to work on my own fitness and wellness which I have found difficult to schedule locally.

“Every day, after work and taking care of the kids, I come in at 9:00 pm and I’m exhausted. I thought I had a fast metabolism,” he laughs. “But I suddenly gained weight, so I thought I’d try a little exercise, but it wasn’t enough to burn off my bad habits.”

Late last month, I drove from Tamaki Makaulau to Tauranga to speak at the Boxing Academy in Faafiri. He was warm and welcoming, bright in appearance, and his efforts to eat clean and exercise regularly were evident.

Match Fit: Tawera Nikau, Alex Flint and Henry Faafili of League Legends.

Cliff Thompson

Match Fit: Tawera Nikau, Alex Flint and Henry Faafili of League Legends.

Last year, Faafiri was approached by TV personality and fellow former warrior Wailangi Kupoo to join the cast for Matchfit’s inaugural league season. ‘Matchfit’ is a show that invites a team of rugby his league legends to get in shape for the final against his Australian kangaroos. Faafiri hadn’t run in five years, had both hip replacements in the last three years, and knew she was never at the weight she was when she wore the Kiwi jersey. He was moderately nervous.

Known for her Coconut Opening Tri Celebration and braided hair, Faafiri weighed around 105kg during her playing days. In the first episode of Match Fit, she weighed 42, weighed 127.2 kg, and had a metabolic age of 57. A person’s metabolic age is a measure of how many calories your body burns at rest compared to the average metabolic rate of: That age group in the general population.

A group of former league players began their Match Fit journey with the Bronco Test. The Bronco Test is an aerobic exercise test in which he repeats five rounds from the starting line to the 20, 40 and 60 meter marks without rest.

With the latest Match Fit season filming in April 2022, Faafiri remembers the Bronco Test like it was yesterday. “Thanks to coach Ruben Wiki, we’ve all become partnered. And since I’m relatively new to my hips, I’m going to partner with coach Tawera Nikau, and even the one-legged guy I thought I could keep up,” he jokes.

Faafiri cleared the first lap with ease, prompting Nikau to catch up. “By the third lap, I was jogging towards the 60m mark and started slowing down. Nikau walked next to Faafiri, forcing him to continue his advance. “Oh, he didn’t just run past,” Faafiri remembers thinking. Faafiri finished the Bronco test in 14:06, with Sione Faumuina finishing first in 6:06.

“In the last few laps my breathing was heavy and I was walking some of it, but that alone was tough,” Faafiri said. “It became a mental battle for me as I began to doubt that I would be able to finish the race.”

When she finally finished the test, Faafiri collapsed trying to catch her breath. He quickly turned pale and was examined by the on-site paramedics. “It was without a doubt the hardest fitness test I’ve ever taken in my life.”

The day after the test, as Faafiri continued to recover, she wondered if she had the new coronavirus and why she was suffering throughout the test. He also suspected his heart and eventually made an appointment with a specialist at Tauranga Hospital. There he received an unwelcome answer.

“I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation,” he says. “Normally, the heart beats in unison with our own pacemaker, but for me it’s like my heart is running a marathon every day just by sitting. “It’s not working as it should,” he explains. This strains Faafiri’s heart and could lead to heart failure. “The news was a difficult pill to swallow.”

Henry Faafiri partnered with Tawera Nikau on the Bronco Fitness Test.

body friend

Henry Faafiri partnered with Tawera Nikau on the Bronco Fitness Test.

During the filming of episode two of Match Fit, Faafiri told a group of men that she had broken the news of her diagnosis and had been advised to rest when exercising. As a result, the producers asked Faafiri to leave the show for her safety. He did so, albeit reluctantly. “It broke his heart to have to go on his own journey,” he recalls. “For the first few weeks I was trapped in a dark space and went to see a psychologist.” Faafiri did not appear in Match His Fit in Episodes 3 and 4.

Faafiri’s wife, Amy, consistently encouraged him to make changes and began working with him to hold him accountable. “She was my lifesaver,” he says. He started eating more vegetables and greens and exercising more regularly. The cast of Matchfit, including coaches and trainers, created a group chat, which Faafili also joined. He completed a workout set up by either Wiki, Matchfit trainers Alex Flint or Paul Lauhiri in a group chat with the rest of the men. “With each passing day, it became clear to me why I was leading a healthier lifestyle. Not only could I be with my wife and sons longer, but I was also able to speak at work as a youth trainer and mentor. It is also for doing

Off screen, Faafiri was healthier and weighed less. “In two weeks I was down to 124kg, so I told Pango Productions CEO Baillie McKee that I wanted to come back at the end of the season and take the Bronco test,” he says. McKee hesitated, but that was enough motivation to prove himself to Faafiri. She said, “She thought how great it would be if she came back to the show after all her hard work and dedication and showed everyone that it was possible.”

After the Bronco Test, play against Fit League legends.

body friend

After the Bronco Test, play against Fit League legends.

For the new year, Faafiri’s workplace had applied to participate in the Tauranga Marathon, which included a 5km and a 10km fun run. Faafiri scoffed at the idea of ​​himself participating in the running and volunteered to have a barbecue until a young boy who was attending the academy for the first time approached him. “He told me he wanted to run, but I was afraid people would laugh at me. And I immediately thought of my first Bronco test, and I said to him, ‘I’m going to run with you.’ he said. .

“He was an angel from heaven because he made me complete my first task.” [5k], something I never did since moving to Tauranga. The look on his face when he scored was irreplaceable. ”

The next day, Faafiri climbed Mount Maunganui for the first time and was once again surprised by the improvement in her physical strength since April. “I have documented my journey and shared it with my boys throughout the year. They told me they were going to flush the boys,” Faafiri said.

He asked if he could participate in the Bronco test, but was told he would need a doctor’s go-ahead. “I had to explain what the Bronco test was before I reached out to my cardiologist and was instructed to do it at my own pace.”

The day before the final Bronco test of the League Legends season, Faafiri did a test practice run. “I did pretty well,” he proudly admits.

In the penultimate episode of the week, Faafiri surprisingly returned to match fit, completing the Bronco test in 7 minutes and 25 seconds. ”

From the first episode to this week, “Faafiri” has received an overwhelming response from the public. “I get a lot of messages from people telling me they’ve inspired me to go for a heart test and that it’s great to see them on the road to good health because of me.

“I started a private Facebook group called Life Fit to help people inspire each other on their fitness journey. Group chats with Match Fit boys keep me motivated and accountable. We wanted to recreate that on Facebook,” the group. “

“Match Fit was a hidden blessing for me.”

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