It’s hard to believe Mike Sheeran, a 26-year-old fitness and Zumba instructor, was once the kind of kid who asked his mum to write notes for him to get out of physical education at school.

“I was a book nerd,” Mike says.

And he was terrified of standing up in front of the class and remembers crying when it was speech time.

But when he was 14, Mike was hanging around a gym with a friend, playing with weights when an instructor approached him and asked if they wanted to try out a fitness class.

Within three months, Mike was up on stage and began instructing.

“It gave me more confidence. I used to hate standing up in front of people. Now I have up to 500 people coming to my classes.”

Zumbathon for mental health

Aucklander Mike is taking his passion for fitness to another level by combining it with another cause close to his heart: mental health.

On Sunday 7 June, Mike is running a fundraising Zumbathon at West Wave Aquatic and Recreation Centre with all proceeds going to the Mental Health Foundation.

“My mum has anxiety problems and it’s something we’ve been helping her through. She struggles everyday. She’s in and out of hospital with panic attacks.”

Mike has also worked at Odyssey, an addictions centre, where he gained insight into what it’s like to live mental health challenges.

Mike and his siblings support their mum by helping her keep calm and taking her for walks. Mike and his sister even do a personal training session with their mother once a week.

See Mike do his thing

Since Mike hatched the idea for a fundraising Zumbathon he’s noticed more people are opening up about mental health.

“It’s amazing the amount of people who say to me that mental health is close to home.”

Join Mike and his Zumba friends on Sunday 7 June at West Wave Aquatic and Recreation Centre, 20 Alderman Drive, Henderson from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. Early bird sales $10, door sales $15 – all proceeds to the Mental Health Foundation.

Join the event on Facebook or, if you can’t make it, feel free to donate at Give a Little.