Mae Heard Pennel

πŸ”¦ Staff Spotlight πŸ”¦ – Mae Heard

Specialised Health, Behind the Scenes. Who is Specialised Health?


The culture of progression, passion and authenticity behind Specialised Health drives all of us to provide quality Exercise Physiology services in the compensable space. We support claimants in achieving their return to work and life goals through specialist exercise and lifestyle prescription while recognising the importance of open communication with all parties involved in the rehab process. We share knowledge with a passion and are made up of exceptional individuals. 



Location: Auckland, NZ

Mae graduated from a Bachelor of Health Science with honours in biokinetics. She hails from South Africa and fortunately for us moved to NZ with her partner late December 2018.  Behind her she left her own business and joined us in February 2019. 

Why did you choose the Exercise Physiologist life?

I struggled with chronic asthma as a child, and became very limited in my ability to do physical activity. I started running (slowly) and swimming as a teenager and began to manage my asthma. At University I then learnt so much in anatomy and physiology that helped me control it further. It seemed to be the natural path.

What are your Ninja Exercise Physiology skills?

Musculoskeletal (especially Knee and back) rehab… because the body is just amazing!

Other than that I am a ninja at building good relationships with clients due to my empathetic nature.

Do you exercise?

I attend CrossFit 3-4x per week, swim and cycle sporadically, but mostly I run (ultra and marathon distances). If I could I would run everyday! It’s my happy place!

Tell us about your most inspirational client…

I had a client who had a double lung transplant at the age of 22 due to cystic fibrosis.

While learning more about her struggle was inspirational, the training with her brought its challenges as the anti-rejection drugs brought a number of side effects.

Amongst all of this, she started her own marketing business and a non-profit organization to help educate people on organ donation.


Food: Chocolate
Exercise: Monster walks- nothing gets the bum burning like a good monster walk
Fact:  The “funny bone” is neither a bone, nor funny!
Fiction: Anything disney 
Myth Buster: Girls who lift weight get big! Girls who lift weights get strong and lean due to losing body fat. Generally, females don’t have the levels of testosterone than males do so building muscle size is a bit harder. Besides, muscles are sexy.

Have you learnt anything new recently?

I’ve been learning more periodization principles for endurance athletes – the impact of nutrition and tapering for peak performance and the balance between tempo training and consistency. 

Do you have a life outside of Exercise Physiology?

My partner and I are “new” to NZ so we spend our weekends exploring this beautiful country. Between finding rivers to kayak and mountains to run up this country has so much to offer.

Oh, and my dog is my life- of course!

How did you survive the lockdown, and do you have any tips for the Australians?

Embrace change and learn to realise that our “normal’ is very relative.

Stay calm, positive and informed but don’t get wrapped up in the news.

Don’t underestimate the impact it makes on EVERYONE’s mental health and a good run here and there helps.

There’s also a supportive app called Mentemia, which supports mental health. It’s currently free for New Zealanders and Australians.  

What are your goals for 2020?

Hmm this is hard, I was going to embark on a 100km ultra-marathon (my first hundy) but had to defer my entry due to a knee injury.

So my goal is to look after my mental health after the curveball COVID-19 threw us, and reach 100kg deadlift, 80kg squat, and 60kg clean and jerk.