Zel Wilson loves being active. She loves physical activity, loves working out. At one point she spent virtually all her time at the gym, so much so that she made it a career. However, one overambitious weight lift and Zel ended up in a world of pain. Her lower back was on fire and she needed help.
As is so often the case with adversity, when we look back, we can see how a seemingly unfortunate event is actually part of a series of fortunate events, as this turned out to be for Zel. Her doctor recommended physio and so in 2001 began Zel’s long association with Bay Roskill Physiotherapy, now known as Active+ Bay Roskill.
Working for many years both as a personal trainer and aerobics instructor, Zel also went on to teach Pilates. The suggestion from two of her Pilates clients that she should train in physio, Zel initially took as a joke. But they could see the natural physiological awareness and talent that Zel had and eventually she, too, realised it was a perfect fit for her, and so in 2009 she embarked on her BHSC (Physio) degree.
While undertaking her studies she managed to strain her back again, which brought her back to Active+ Bay Roskill and physio with owner Alastair Prentice. With an eye for potential, Alastair told her to come back when she had finished her training and he would have a job for her. Meanwhile he invited her to begin teaching Pilates at the clinic.
True to his word, in 2013 Zel began her physiotherapy career with Alistair at Active+, then in 2016 she took the massive step of ownership of the practice as Alistair’s physiotherapy career took a new direction. Although a huge step, it was not a difficult decision. The small, friendly clinic was a good fit for Zel, who had developed a good rapport with the clients and enjoyed the family-oriented vibe, commenting that it’s not uncommon for her to eventually treat several members of the same family. “It’s all about relationships and real people”, she says. “And they don’t have to have an injury to come in and say hello!”.
With Samoan and Tongan tapa cloths, Rarotongan ei, Chinese fans and saris, plus photos and artefacts from the pioneering days of physiotherapy, the clinic’s décor has a comfortable and interesting ambience, reflecting the diverse cultural fusion of both the local community and the Active+ team.
Along with a passion for helping people, Zel and her colleagues Hui and Tamar share the belief that wellness is all-encompassing, involving a complete mind/body approach to rehabilitation that combines their clinical knowledge with empathy, laughter and positivity. Each brings a unique blend of skills and life experiences to their own personal practice.
AUT graduate Hui who enjoys home workouts and tramping in the great outdoors, also has a creative side, enjoying baking and crafts. Her approach to treatment is team-work, by helping patients understand the reasons behind the physiotherapy, combined with self-management strategies for ongoing care.
Besides a Diploma in Therapeutic Massage, multifaceted Tamar also holds a Diploma in Art and Jewellery, and is passionate about music. She also regularly practices yoga, meditation and Pilates. Tamar has worked in both sports and corporate environments. She believes in body’s ability to heal itself and that is her starting point for her practice, integrating many methods of body work to achieve results.
Along with running Pilates classes in her clinic, Principal Physiotherapist Zel brings aspects of Pilates to her regular exercise group at Sunset Retirement Village. Her natural enthusiasm and sense of fun make her classes popular, and she gets a lot of satisfaction from combining fun and laughter with her physio and PT skills.
With her days filled with physical activity, one would think her spare time would be spent relaxing. But for Zel relaxing involves more physical activity, and she has recently taken up Latin Jive and social ballroom dancing. As if that wasn’t enough, she is also working towards a Graduate Diploma in Psychology.
As Zel looks back on the ‘series of fortunate events’ that led her to this recent phase in her life - business ownership - she feels a fulfilling sense of excitement for the future. “This was a big decision for me, and even though owning a business is still a daunting prospect, it just seemed right - I still pinch myself in disbelief thinking about myself as now being ‘the boss’! she says with a smile.