Aotearoa's first hip-hop and rnb 'step class' is changing lives one banger at a time

Headlines 27/04/2022

Staying active can be hard mahi, it can take time and energy that we don't always have in our busy lives, and let's be honest it's not always exactly 'fun'.

But one incredibly unique step class in the Wellington region is looking to change that perception by introducing some fun into fitness, accompanied by a playlist that we can definitely get down to.

John Mainuu became the first male in Aotearoa to be certified as a step class instructor under the banner of 'Xtreme Hip Hop', a program that was first created by American Phil Weeden back in 2014.

John's own website tells the story of his journey, saying that "Having a love for fitness and being a DJ on the weekends who has a love for Hip hop and Rnb music meant stumbling across this program was only a matter of time."

"Created in 2014 by Phil Weeden from Cleveland, Ohio - its become the only fitness journey any of my family have taken an interest in and why I decided this was something I wanted to be apart of so I could finally have those nearest and dearest to me participate."

Initially it was just something John did with his own whānau, says his wife Rosie:

"It started off with being just our family in our garage and having them react fondly to exercise for the first time ever"

But it wasn't long before John started thinking that this might be something other whānau would be interested in, so he went on to launch his own 'Xtreme Hip Hop with John' step class.

John's hip and rnb themed step class has proven to be a massive hit with the community in Lower Hutt, so much so that all the bookings for his class are snapped up within hours of being released. 

People drive from all around the Wellington area to take part in the class, and if the videos are anything to go by we can see why people would make the trip.

"Like I say at every class, if you are struggling - SING AND SWAY! Any movement is a win for me.  My number one priority is you just having a good time" says John.

The purpose of the class is to help people in the community stay fit and active in a fun and engaging way, and the benefits have proven to be positive for more than just your physical well-being, with some class members describing it as 'life changing'.

But what may be surprising to some of John's clients is that the class has really helped John and his own whānau too, providing a positive outlet for them all to process the grief of tragically losing John's brother last year.

"During a tough loss last year with his brother leaving us before his time, this class has really helped our family navigate a difficult journey" says Rosie.

"So when we are thanked for bringing this to the community - they have no idea how much we've needed it also."

This is one of those beautiful stories where something positive for one whānau becomes something positive for the entire community, it's the gift that truly keeps on giving.

"The many stories the community have shared with us are what keeps him motivated to keep going. But ultimately it's seeing families come and exercise together that's the one that's dear to his heart" says Rosie.

If you're keen to learn more about Xtreme Hip-Hop with John you can always check out his website, or follow him on Instagram to keep up to date with his classes!