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From grasshopper to gold medallist

One of the best moments of Ricky Liu's life was running across the Auckland Harbour Bridge at sunrise with his family during the Auckland Marathon. “Being active is not a task, it’s a way of life,” he says.

By day, 41-year old Ricky Liu works for Auckland Council's Community Facilities Department but outside of work, he's a long distance runner and accomplished "karate kid" who only began his martial arts journey at the age of 40.

Now, the North Shore-based Senior Facility Performance Advisor has a gold medal from New Zealand's Premier Karate event under his belt and has even talked his wife and two sons into joining him as training partners.

Getting active Ricky's way

“I have been going to council leisure centres for over 10 years, and I enjoy running and participating in running events.

I also started learning karate when I turned 40, not only to maintain physical well-being but also to support my 10-year-old boy in his training.

I enjoy going to Glenfield Pool and Leisure Centre for karate training, cardio and endurance training and strength training. It has a super passionate and enthusiastic group of fitness trainers, professional personal trainers, awesome gym equipment, and the pool, sauna and spa for recovery and relaxation.

I go there every time after my long-distance running training, and I also managed to get the 2019 New Zealand Karate National Championship gold medal by following my training routine.”

The family that trains together, stays together

“Training together with your loved ones is the perfect way to get fit. I no longer need to juggle looking after the kids and finding time to work out.

When I do my marathon training along the waterfront, my boy normally rides his scooter in front of me leading the way.

And council leisure centres also provide active teen programmes that are specific to their needs.”

Achieving a work-life balance

“Auckland Council promotes work-life balance for its employees, so I start work early and finish early to make it to a gym session.

Exercise, for me, is perfect to cope with stress; it keeps the positive and can-do attitude, and I love the endorphins.

I combine family time with exercise time. My wife runs half-marathons with me now, and my kids enjoy going to karate with me.

There is a bit of competition going on there and I’m sure my 10-year-old will be a better karate fighter than me one day. I’m trying my best to postpone that.”

Ricky's top tips for getting and staying active

  • Pick exercise you enjoy doing and do it with your loved ones. Make it special and make progress together.
  • Choose health before wealth and make exercise part of your life. It’s a lifetime journey.
  • People make the experience special, so go to a gym where staff members can remember your name and care about your progress.
  • Always warm up before training and stretch after training, as injury is the biggest enemy to staying active.