Mana Fleming: Back to basics

Fitness and wellness expert Mana Fleming wants to help us get back to basics.  

“I’m mostly interested in teaching people how to use their body correctly and strongly. We don’t get taught that as children.” 

Fleming, once an elite hockey player and who pushed her body to the limit, is now committed to supporting those who have never exercised, have had lengthy breaks from exercise, and who are aging. She teaches them how to retrain and stay moving. 

“At the competitive level, it was about thrashing your body and going harder, faster, longer, stronger. I realised there was a certain attitude around that, which was to be competitive and highly aggressive, and I realised I couldn’t keep doing that.” 

In her 30s she picked up tai chi and started her journey toward educating communities on mindful movement. 

“I learnt I needed to move my body differently and behave differently.” 

“I think society has become so complex, we’ve forgotten about the simplicity of movement, whether it’s walking to the dairy or supermarket or block. I often say to people, ‘just keep moving’.” 

“There seems to be this push of when we do something, we have to be absolutely awesome at it - rather than looking at the process of how to do it well.” 

“We need to ask ‘what do I want my real outcome to be’. Sometimes we think ‘I’ve done that now’, and then we sit down. People will say ‘I’ve lost my ten kilos,’ stop, and then put on 20 kilos. Our human mind gets in the way.”  

Fleming was one of three Christchurch wellness leaders, who led Hikitia Te Hā videos for All Right? 

"Anything that allows me to support people to find balance and connect with who they are, is something I want to be involved in." 

Fleming has been teaching tai chi for the last 17 years, and has also gathered more than 12 years as a pilates instructor for the Christchurch City Council, where she also teaches stretch, spin and beginner yoga classes. 

She advises everyone to “do a little something every day so that at the end of the day you can say ‘I did that’”.  

“Then you can look through your day and find that ‘little something’ - so it’s about accountability.” 

Fleming says it will take longer to strip back exercise, but it is better for the body. 

“We need to interrupt the patterns that our minds are playing that prevent us from living.” 

When it clicked with clients, she loved seeing “people owning their own health and their own body”. 

“They say ‘when I was stressed I did tai chi and I felt better’. Or ‘I was having an argument at WINZ and I did the breathing exercises and it completely changed my emotions’. People owning and changing who they are in the world is what brings me the excitement.” 

“As people, we don’t need to suffer anymore. Find happiness. Stop the suffering.”