Cate has travelled a challenging road to become one of today’s elite personal trainers in New Zealand. After battling chronic health conditions, Cate decided to change her course in life and look to the
fitness world for help, and hasn’t looked back. Cate is the founder of Leap Fitness and Motivation located in Christchurch, New Zealand. She believes everybody has good news to share and is dedicated to inspire and empower people who have faced adversity to leap2it! to a healthier, fitter, stronger and happy life.

Since my last post (in June) I moved to a new physio and have been attending physio for two hours a week to strengthen my body in preparation for knee surgery.

We took a while to get into it as the health practioners negotiated the mountain of paperwork to ensure everyone got paid and the allied health contacts could be fulfilled and my square peg needs fitted in the perfectly constructed round holes!

Of course while they worked out that a square peg will never fit the round hole my rehab was slow and mentally draining so there were tears and tantrums which would lead to more delays!

Finally I decided the only person to “fix” this was me.  So I kicked into action and called a few meetings, ruffled a few feathers and expressed more than one opinion!

I still got frustrated when it was boring or too slow but I set my sights on a goal..

I was introduced to DMA clinical pilates  – it differs from traditional pilates in a number of ways.  Developed specifically to aid rehabilitation, the most significant difference between these two types of pilates is that physiotherapists can use DMA clinical pilates to assess as well as treat injuries and pain.  I absolutely love it!  My physio and I are finally able to focus on the job in hand and have the relationship I had been craving since leaving behind an awesome team all because of bureaucracy!

Any who… my balance and core was so deconditioned from my inactivity that it had made me determined!

I didn’t tell my professional team but was focusing on using my DMA sessions to return me to my favourite deadlifts, standing rows and Single Leg Bosu balance.

A month ago the next round of Physiotherapy students arrived at the clinic I attend.  Over my two decades of managing pain, I always embrace students attending my sessions, in the hope that my complexity will allow them some real life experience to go with their awesome theory work.  Students often have a fresh approach and the great ones are never afraid to offer an opinion or suggestion.

My student this time was one of those remarkable life changing people!

Erin added bands, got creative, moved my body a few cms so I activated differently.  We introduced balls, bands and bars!  I was so happy.

This week my awesome and kind physio had been sick and Erin did a remarkable job stepping in.

Yesterday was Erin’s last day in the clinic.  I was so fatigued and felt awful but I wanted to give my secret goals a crack and wish Erin well for her future…

I warmed up and then worked with her to execute my secret goals… deadlifts, standing row and bosu balance!  I had been testing my own clients with Lou all week and was inspired by their stories and journey.  I really wanted to see how I had gone – it was five months since I broke my hand.  I needed to know if my own work had paid off.

Erin and I had a great session, we were both smiling and laughing.. we had great delight in putting the results in my notes for her supervisor and my physio to read on her return!
I smashed it – Three PB’s (since my fall) exactly 365 days ago when I fell in the rabbit hole after the dog ran into me!

I feel super proud that all the kindness and respect that Erin and I showed for each other led me to complete

10RM – 15 kg deadlifts

10RM – 15kg standing rows

15 sec bosu single leg balance

And 20 bosu sitting ball throws!

It felt amazing and I know I am stronger and on the right path to being ready for surgery!

Next stop – rheumatologist to see when is a safe window with my biologicals and medications to have surgery!

Just goes to prove that thinking outside the square, with kindness and creating square holes for the square pegs really can pay off!


As my regular and awesome followers know, I usually write when I am stuck,  and have a crazy and usually sticky situation I am negotiating.   And so is true for this post.  

In September last year I fell over and started a process that would involve 18 new health assessments and an outcome that I need a new knee.  I have been left juggling new “team” members and integrating them into my exisiting team and  current wellness plan.  No mean feat! 

In May this year I fell again, this time a fractured hand had my small steps of progression quickly becoming giant steps of regression,  regular four hour hospital visits also meant another round of assessments a new X-ray team, nurses, plaster teams, specialists, consulatants and specialist Physio’s.    
Then came the OT’s, work assessments, case managers, more specialists, physios, planning meetings, specialist follows ups… all taking time and no doubt a lot of money for the tax payers ….. 

All in all it has been exhausting and it kind of feels like I am in limbo, similar to my own earthquake experiences, as I navigate my way through a relentless pathway swinging from crisis – crisis, while finely balancing my rehab, ongoing health, bureaucracy, wellness, relationships, finance, business and life!  

You see the thing that strikes me the most in all of this, is that in this country we have the most amazing legislation, healthcare, welfare, human rights, business, and disability policies….. however there is one massive issue in accessing the amazing services out there!….

It is so dependant on the human factor… who you get, and if you are among the rare few who actually get access to what everyone is entitled too, the quality of delivery is dependant on what boxes are ticked and/or how someone is interpreting the policies related to the service they are funded to deliver.    Of course those who win these contracts are predominantly businesses, and that means bottom lines can easily come before best fit or best care.. 

Good golly – what a big can of worms I just opened… (can you tell I held my breath!). 

I know I created a business, albeit now I believe it is a probably more of a social enterprise.  That is because our purpose is for people to discover their own good news, with our advocacy and support.  People and their quality of life are our passion  not KPI’s or bottom lines! 

I saw a gapping big hole between policy makers and funders policies and the front line interpretation and delivery of services.   

That was 8 years ago and sadly I have decided I have been living on my own planet thinking that it had changed out there in the real world!!   My world and the team I get to choose is incredible.  They get me and see me as a human, not the parts that are covered by the code next to the paperwork. 

After nearly 10 months of very limited choice, in more than one of our health and welfare systems my heart goes out to those in our systems for the first time or without a base team around them.   

To be frank at times my service delivery experience has been horrific!!!   I am pleased that my parents and grandparents passed on to me my value for fairness and respect.   And a voice to speak out when it’s not working for me.  

Our human rights legislation purpose is to promote and protect the human rights of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.    

And you know what… 

When a health service message is being delivered and is technically the same message ..

Delivered with genuiness, ownership an empathic ear and words of encouragement and kindness will install confidence that it you will be ok. 

Whereas the opposite – blaming, excuses, passing the buck,  judgemental words, and negativity can make a same message become a huge deal.  

It’s not that hard people (especially those of your who choose to work and be funded by our government funding and initiatives) 

Be kind and treat others as you would like to be treated.   You might even enjoy your own jobs a little more!!!!  

So all in all my experience has meant I have put on my problem solving hat, found some fighting gloves and kick up the ass boots and am heading into battle . not just for me but for those who might follow into the services I have had to endure. 

Ps oh and thanks!! Seems my dream of not being needed to support others like me to navigate our daunting systems is far far away………. 

Pps It has been cathartic to get words on paper and just as I told a few clients this week it really is ok to have a good old cry and de-stress.  It got rid of my old murky and stale “waters” to make room for some new and refreshing energy building this weekend 


You are stronger than you realise! At 12.02am on Monday NZ and our world was shaken up again.  I hadn’t written for a while because we had been to damn busy snorkeling around our own we world that hadn’t been up for air!   This week brought with it a huge mixed bag of emotions and in the past writing has helped keep my heart rate down and many have asked for advice on how to cope.  At first I was struggling to put it into words, but today we executed our own personal emergency plan, as Riwai caught a helicopter to work, and the fire service reassuring me he was safely in Kaikoura to do what he does best, I thought of the list that helped me survive, helped me get through!   Who knows if anyone will read this, but I hope if you do and you have a loved one in distress that these few words my help you navigate the fear that is before you.

The night’s are the hardest,  I go through my EQ routine from years of practice, each aftershock I check my light and we have power, I turn on a tap, and it runs clean without clonky pipes! I can text my family and get a reply.

On Monday I did all of this and then ………..shit!  If we are ok with that sort of force who the hell is not – put those thoughts aside – do what you can here.   Wake up hubbie as he will probably not felt a thing… luckily for my stress levels my animals didn’t stir either!

I can feel my heart rate come down,  Clever Facebook allows us to let loved ones around the world know we were ok.

I stumble to the light switch, nonchalantly fill the jug with water and boil the jug for a cup of tea, open the fridge and the light shines brightly back at me! With phone in one hand watching my social newsfeed and message service fill up with messages and reports, the aftershocks come and I realise how far we have come since Sept 2010!  My anxiety was in check and was ready to snuggle back down to bed…………….
Then reports of the Tsunami warning come in and with family up and down the coast line my panic and nausea came in like the waves due in a few hours!  Flooding back memories of sheer desperation and heartbreak!  Shit are the water bottles rotated, have we got enough perishables, medication and animal food, will there be more?  Have I got milk?  Is the gas bottle filled up, how is the next door neighbour?  How is the community?  …… Far out what about the rest of NZ?  A million unanswerable questions and I could feel the anxiety taking hold!  
Thank goodness for the hugs of loved ones at the door at 3am.  We called them refugees as that’s what they looked like.  Ripped from their beds with nothing as evacuations begun up and down the coast.    Everyone took it in their stride.   We are alive, we have utilities and our loved ones are safe.

As things simmer down and the dawn sun arrived, Riwai was off to work.  The enormity of the evenings events sets in as Wellington are on a knife edge and our loved Hurunui and Kaikoura cut off from the world.   We turn our attention to our wider group of loved ones and supporters, checking on those in the Hurunui, Kaikoura, Marlborough and Wellington Districts.    Life ahead for many of them will not be easy and since then I have been sharing the same advice.   BE KIND to yourself and others and heres a few survival tips from a pro!  

1) Use the Isabella ABC Count – When I was scared in 2011, a young girl called Isabella held my hand and said “Cate just count to 10 before you get scared”  And it has worked ever since.
A) Count to 10
B) If you are still moving at 10 move to safety and count again to 20
C) If you are still moving at 20 check on loved ones and execute your safety plan….
This method has kept my anxiety levels down ever since and given me the strength to be there for others….
2)  The short of it is that the first few months are shite but you are stronger than you think!
3) Sleep deprivation means your normal gets thrown into disarray
4) Create your own routine and sense of achievement for the day
5) Find a distraction to take your mind off all that is happening – movement, walking, stretching, music, meditation, books, card games
6) It’s ok to feel exactly how you are feeling, don’t let anyone tell you how your should be or feel
7) Find peeps to connect with
8) Don’t trawl social media – get informed using sites like GeoNet, Emergency Services Sites and Civil Defence
Geonet Updates – Is scientific and relevant
9) And once again BE KIND!   Everyone has their own methods for survival!
10)  THANK YOU TO ALL THE PEOPLE AND THEIR LOVED ONES BEHIND THE SCENES who are working around the clock to restore routine and basic needs to those effected by mother natures latest round of rumbles

Much love and Hugs to everyone!  Our doors, emails and facebook boxes are open for anyone who needs it
Cate x

Wow what a roller coaster ride it’s been! I remember my resignation meeting well.  13.8.2010

Two weeks later I wasn’t going. The first big earthquake had hit and my pull to support the East side was stronger than my desire to enter the fitness industry.
Thank goodness I had two incredible bosses at the time, one who refused to let me withdraw my resignation, reminding me I would never change what I wanted too and it was time to spread my wings. The other who sat me down and told me if I didn’t go now I would never leave the corridors of government and it would snuff my creativity out.
I was devastated, scared and worried I would fail. Yet these two women were incredible leaders and saw something in me then I hadn’t yet seen in myself.
I took the plunge and with them, my nan, my mum and many other inspirational people on my shoulders my little business is now a bigger business that I am proud of!

A massive thanks to Broni who is a great mentor and supporter and in my early days, without her brilliant framework of the 20 Weeks  many days it would have been hard to keep going.  She constantly gives me words of encouragment,    We went from 5 entrants in my first series to 50 this winter. When earthquakes, snow, floods, adversity, hospital visits, med changes, Eqc battles and life threw us lemons it was our clients that kept us opening the doors!

Thank also to Donna and Richard and the team at Zest who gave me a space to practice and learn my craft. And to Janelle and the team at Form who let me grow my business after the Feb earthquakes, Janelle said come for six weeks while you get back on your feet… Four years later we left.

It has been an unbelievable and fabulous journey so far. We are now happy in our own studio and have grown from just me to six dedicated LeapCrew, working alongside a whole bunch of super cool clients inspiring, encouraging and empowering them to discover and share their good news.

The industry has changed at an incredible pace since I joined it and I am a proud that my curves and crutches have been accepted.

It brings me such joy that special pops, movement, wellness, stress management and embracing our body are all on trend.

A huge thank you to Riwai and Lou who both work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep me going on the tough days!  And a massive hug and thanks to everyone who has been through our doors, who share a part of your lives as you discover what makes you happy.

It just goes to show what a little belief in others, the right words at the right time, sprinkled with encouragement along the way can do.

Today go out there and if you see something great in someone – tell them!

Who knows where that belief, compliment or word of encouragement might take them.

I know for sure Wynn and Linleys comments to me in 2010 have made an incredible difference to 100’s of people who without leaving my comfort zone may have never met me!  And my life is enriched for the better, doing what I love everyday is a gift I can never have enough words to thank everyone for

Much love and hugs
Cate x

Photo credit motivating giraffe


A lovely woman I admire greatly asked how I was this week, she commented that I had been quiet.   Another incredible lady said to me “Sometimes Cate, we just have to get out of our own way” . She was talking about herself as her current health has been harrowing lately, but her words also resonated with me.

The truth was I was in another funk.

My health at this time of year is quite frankly a biatch!

There is nothing more medically we can do but wait..  I had another infusion round in July. This time we decided while I had no taste or smell to head off on a holiday.

For me my meds journey is  like waiting for a plane that keeps getting delayed.    You are ready to go, not able to go back, or forward and stuck in a drab place until the announcement comes we are ready to board or the plane is cancelled!

It feels like the same  roller coaster while my body repairs and the cells build.  Meanwhile the other drugs knock me around and I feel stuck.  Some days waking up worrying the “plane will be cancelled” and I’ll be stuck in this limbo forever.

I am blessed to do work that gets me up in the morning, with the birds chirping before sunrise, my clients making an effort to come to me each session, despite what may be going on in their world is still remarkable!

With my clients on my shoulder I headed away for our 10day break to Fiji and Melbourne with two goals to keep me occupied while waiting for my infusion –
1. to walk a marathon in a long weekend and
2. to stand up paddle board.

It was a euphoric feeling to do both.  Neither were easy, the flip side was both came hand in hand with time in bed afterwards, back pain, knee pain,  vomiting, nausea and migraines I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  Who knows if it’s my meds, the travel, my aging, the constant change in temperature, pushing my limits or simply a bug…  It really didn’t matter to me because the memories of both achievements made it all worth while!

Thankfully two lovely ladies reached out and their simple words encouragment reminded me this week to look at my situation differently.  At least I am alive!

So I got out of my own way this week, celebrated another milestone of being alive, looked at all the beautiful messages of love and support from around the world and decided it was time to reflect and celebrate happy little moments!

Smiles and Hugs to everyone especially Phyllis and Ali, who gave me the gentle kick of encouragement I needed to get up and keep going!

Smiles and Hugs



You learn to love every good second, every good minute, of any of those few good days you might have. You know it’s not important to dwell on the little things. You have more important things to worry about.   Being sick makes you weak. Being sick makes you strong.  Being sick gives you insight and knowledge about life as it eats away at your own. Being sick is the greatest blessing in disguise. It is so much more than just having an illness. It’s having your entire life be taken out of your control, and fighting to get it back. Some days it feels like that fight will never end.

Last week I was honoured to share a patients perspective to a community who may otherwise have never known the impact the work they do has on my wellness.   I spoke to some of the globes leading stars on the final day of conference for one of the drug companies that provides me with my life changing treatments.

It heard myself sharing that I was on the big river of DeNile for again.  That means that medically I am unwell again, yet I have been shoving all signs under a big carpet hoping I won’t trip up on it…..

The truth is that  that every winter I cruise down this river pretending I am normal and not that sick.  I thought it worked well for the most part but for the last few weeks the winter nights and reliance on others to function has been taking it’s toll.   The thing is with chronic health is that there is no end, loved ones have no finish, friends get sick of us cancelling last minute, we get sick of missing out.     Today I had to cancel some exciting catch ups I had planned because my health is telling me I need to save my spoons (see below) for other things… It sucks and I have been feeling frustrated that my health is taking a dip…

Social activities are constantly analysed for timing, carparking, noise levels, cancellation policies,  finish times, long range weather, accessibility, room temperature, seating arrangements, when to take meds so you aren’t sleeping at dessert, what clothes to wear, can you get to the toilet without help, have I rested enough to fight off any bugs, hows my immune system doing, ….. oh the list goes on and on…………  Getting ready is no longer a five minute job, you have to think about clothing fastners, shoe choice, comfortable clothes and still make time for hair and makeup!  For those with chronic health a simple dinner with friends seems overwhelming.

The flow on effect for loved ones is this whole chronic health business seems relentless. My heart goes out to all our incredible carers, most days I believe they are most affected, as they watch their loved ones pain, with deteriorating function, and no end in sight.   It is like a spaghetti junction with everything crossing over and medical teams offering little relief to the emotions that go with this.  Our medical team job is to keep us alive, prolonging our deterioration as much as possible, while we with our loved ones attempt to keep our heads and hearts in balance as our quality of life is diminishing.

It is so damn harrowing, frustrating and incredibly sad.   For the short term I am back on my crutches, booked in for a booster infusion and avoided any hospital admissions, I am being compliant and enjoying regular physio while I get this flare undercontrol…. I know I have the right medical team and a kick ass support team on my side.

Huge thanks again to my support team this week who have kept my head above water, I am excited to have booked a beach retreat break away in July and spending time focussing on what I can do!  The most important thing for me at the moment is to continue to do the work I love, in the controlled environment that allows me to function!    So there is hope, I will be ok with saying No so I can do the best I can everyday, with the energy I have, then I can go to bed feeling satisfied I gave the day everything I had!  That will keep me smiling and focusing on what I can do, and allow me to reflect on at least one awesome thing I acheived… Like today biking to my hairdresser and then taking my dog for his first every bike ride in a basket to visit my mum.

Smiles and Hugs to everyone who takes time to read this…

My blog has always been a way to relax my mind by getting it all out in black in white


Early in my RA diagnosis I stumbled across the Spoon Theory.  It is one of those blogs I found in the middle of a pain and insomnia crusade – you know those nights where the meds aren’t kicking in and you find yourself drifting to your online supports around the globe for inspiration and validation that’s this too shall pass… 

It is one of those theories that keeps me sane when at this time of year I am struggling to keep my head above water as my head is rearing to go and my body isn’t playing ball…

It is well worth a read.

Wikipedia helps me explain it – The spoon theory is a disability metaphor used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. Spoons are widely discussed within autoimmune, disability, and other chronic illness communities.  Spoons are an intangible unit of measurement used to track how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person “recharges” through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.

One of the tenets of the spoon theory is that many people with disabilities or chronic illness must carefully plan their daily activities to conserve their spoons, while most people without any disabilities or chronic illnesses don’t need to worry about running out.[1]Because healthy people do not feel the impact of spending spoons for mundane tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, they may not realize the amount of energy expended by chronically ill or disabled people just to get through the day.[2]


This week I have been privileged to hear from many women about their thoughts on Mothers Day. It reminded me of this post I shared last year. My mum has been quite unwell lately and given a new diagnosis that we are all getting our heads around. It was a great reminder to love our mums! I took her out for lunch today after I finished work. It was an interesting day as for the last five years I have been at St Clair – that is on next year! I managed to hang out with my fur babies and it was such a picture perfect day in Christchurch that I spent time with the sun in my face, admiring what is all around me and being grateful for what I do have in my life. I am blessed to say that is an abundance… and as the sun goes down on another mothers day, I toast to all women, and thank you all around the world for everything you contribute to this planet, with a big special hug for our amazing mums! xx

In 2002 I  separated from my first husband, in Sydney.  It was pretty, challenging but ended up being as close to amicable as these things can be.   We had outgrown each other, and wanted different things in our lives.   I caught the ferry to Manly and sat on the beach remembering what my nana and grandma had both said to me nearly six years earlier when I left for my OE. 

Have no regrets in life my love, either do it or don’t! 

Own the choices you make and give those choices 100% and you will go far.  

Within a few months I was dating again, well before tinder and Internet dating and it scared the shit out of me!  But it took me to the most wonderful places too.  Dinners, picnics, theatre, opera, lunches, brunches and tours of new cities!  There were plenty of rouges yet the flip side was I had the most fascinating and interesting conversations.    One Melbourne Cup day I had hosted a luncheon at one of Sydney’s finest hotels.  We were all dressed up, including a beautiful hat I had made for me by a local Miliner. My horse Brew won and while cashing in my ticket I met I delightful Australian boy.   Romance blossomed , and during a Sunday afternoon movie “brave heart” he paused the film when Mel Gibson says “everybody dies but not everybody lives”.    

He said that was what I did – despite knowing I would eventually die, until then I was living every minute!  

I explained about my grandmothers advice.   Eventually his work took him overseas and we parted ways, but the lesson he (well Mel Gibson) taught me remain in my coping strategy vault. 

This past few years has been extremely tough as Riwai and I have seen many loved ones pass on,  many of our friends and family have also seen loved ones pass.    Death although enevitable is heartbreaking.  Everyone copes in different ways, and acknowledging those different ways is healing.   

Everyone of us is getting older, you are three minutes older since you started reading this! 

 So tell your loved ones what they mean to you while they can hear you.  Hug, smile, talk and forgive.  Do what is right in your heart, live with no regrets, own the choices you make and get out there and LIVE.   
Much love and hugs to you all x

How delightful to be interviewed today by the lovely Carly Flynn on Saturday Fresh,  Saturday Fresh on Radio Live Saturday 10AM – 2PM

Saturday Fresh
Ideas for everyday living with Carly Flynn – a great place to go for useful and inspiring ideas to help make life just that little bit easier.  
Great recipes, tips on home life, time savers, travel advice, new home products, cosmetics and beauty advise, health and well being, mindfulness – Saturday Fresh has it all covered.


Here is a link to the interview today with myself and Sandra Kirby, CEO of Arthritis NZ

Living with Arthritis – Radio Live Interview 19.03.2016 with Cate Grace & Arthritis NZ

And seven of my tips for starting to manage your Arthritis for a positive and happy life!

  1. Be Ok with asking for help and get a team around you including medical people, an Arthritis Educator fron Arthritis NZ, friends and family, and support person (especially for appointments).
  2. Book in regular friends and family dates where you and loved ones agree not only focus on your illness
  3. Focus on what your body does well – stop beating yourself up for what it doesn’t
  4. Hang out by yourself doing things you like doing
  5. Give yourself pat on the back for all you did well today
  6. Drink more water; hydration is a great pain killer
  7. Move more – start with a few minutes, build up to exercise snacks and focus on what you can do not what you can’t

Keep practicing on your positive mindset
I believe it is the best the way to cope
for there’s no arthritis cure… yet
but there’s a lot that can be done
many small steps lead to big possibilities
and if you positively embrace life with arthritis you can achieve all that you desire


Smiles for a fabulous day & rest of your weekend

Cate x