‘I did it for my whānau’: How former Sons of Zion singer Caleb Haapu shed 54kg

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Former Sons of Zion singer Caleb Haapu has lost 54kg thanks to gym training and a healthier diet.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Former Sons of Zion singer Caleb Haapu has lost 54kg thanks to gym training and a healthier diet.

Fifty-four kilograms didn’t just drift away.

It took a lot of hard work and discipline for New Plymouth-based musician Caleb Haapu (Ngāti Porou), AKA Tobias, who has shed this amount of weight over the last 12 months.

“It is the same weight as a small person, 10 more kilos and I will have lost the same weight as my partner Kendyll,” he said.

Haapu is the former lead singer and guitarist for Sons of Zion, whose hit song Drift Away was No 1 on the New Zealand charts for 12 weeks, and was nominated for 2018 single of the year.

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He is quick to credit his incredible transformation to the trainers and his classmates at New Plymouth’s F45 gym – alongside a healthier balanced diet.

“Over the last 12 years, I have been humbled to have toured and experienced the highs of performing across New Zealand and the world, something I love,” he said.

“However, the lifestyle and burning the candle at both ends was not good for my health or my waistline.”

Caleb Haapu was 164kg before embarking on a mission to lose weight.

Caleb Haapu/Supplied

Caleb Haapu was 164kg before embarking on a mission to lose weight.

At his peak, Haapu tipped the scales at 164kg. His crisis point came one night while lying in bed next to his wife.

“I was struggling to breathe, and I reflected that I was too unfit and out of shape to play outside with my kids,” he says.

“That night I made a decision to make a change – for my kids, for my whānau. They are the motivation for me to make this change.”

Caleb Haapu, right, has been training with Colin McCorkindale, left, at the F45 gym in New Plymouth.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Caleb Haapu, right, has been training with Colin McCorkindale, left, at the F45 gym in New Plymouth.

Haapu signed up at F45, and over the course of the next year he shed 54kg. He says he’s very grateful to the trainers there, who created an “amazing environment for me to begin this fitness journey”.

“The classes are incredibly supportive and there are people in every class, of different ages, shapes and sizes, who are at different stages of their fitness journey, from beginners like I was to those who have been going for years.

“It is a very supportive, motivating environment, involving a 45-minute routine of different exercises and a mix of intervals. When I started, I thought, ‘I can do 45 minutes, surely’.”

Haapu is now a regular at the High St-based gym, and his experience has inspired him to add ‘personal trainer’ to his basket of talents.

“I see the support and skill when I take part in the classes, and it has inspired me to study personal training myself.”

He is studying for a personal training certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, an Arizona-based training institute, and will graduate later this year.

Caleb Haapu, right, credits the F45 trainers, including Colin McCorkindale, left, for his weight loss success.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Caleb Haapu, right, credits the F45 trainers, including Colin McCorkindale, left, for his weight loss success.

Haapu’s passion for personal training, however, has not diminished the talented muso’s enthusiasm for writing music and performing. On March 4 he is set to release his new single One Night.

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be where I am now, and I think this is reflected in my music. Being able to run around and play with my kids, my wife Kendyll, and feeling good about myself on the stage knowing I am doing what I can to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle, these are things which are very important to me.

“I am doubly blessed to have my music and career to be able to share my gratitude and to hopefully inspire others.”

Caleb Haapu, centre, is the former lead singer and guitarist for Sons of Zion.

Caleb Kingi/Supplied

Caleb Haapu, centre, is the former lead singer and guitarist for Sons of Zion.

For F45 head trainer Colin McCorkindale, Haapu is an inspiration for others who want to experience better health and fitness.

“He turns up every time and puts in the effort. He has great discipline and motivation. Caleb is an asset and inspiration in our classes, participating with enthusiasm from the start.

“That said, I want to say Caleb’s journey and transformation here with F45 is not exceptional – however, his musical skills absolutely are!”



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