Three Guys On A Mission
Kala‘i Miller, Ikaika Kimura and Kevin Yen are turning an active, healthy lifestyle into a hot new show on OC-16, NRG TV
Kevin Yen, Kala‘i Miller and Ikaika Kimura: It’s always a balancing act
Not eat for five days? “Brah, are you crazy?” Kala‘i Miller asked of a co-worker who was trying a digestive cleanse better known as the “Lemonade Diet.”
“I would never do that,” Miller, 32, promised.
But for the health and wellness of the viewers who watch Miller as the host of OC-16’s NRG TV, he personally braved a five-day trial of The Master Cleanse — sipping glasses of water mixed with raw maple syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a touch of cayenne pepper — to show the people of Hawaii one of the many ways they can improve their health.
“It’s not for the faint of heart, but it really reset the way I think about food,” says Miller.
Exploring creative ways into health and wellness is what NRG TV is all about.
In response to a growing need for comprehensive health information in Hawaii, executive producers Ikaika Kimura, Kevin Yen and Miller created NRG — Hawaii’s Premier Health and Wellness Lifestyle Show.
In addition to providing nutrition and fitness advice, NRG, which began airing episodes in December 2004, focuses on characteristics of total wellness and offers preventative health tips while showing viewers how to utilize Hawaii’s resources.
“We believe that most people want to live a healthier life, but don’t know how,” says Kimura, 30, who also produced local shows like Local Kine Grinds and Overdrive Live. “We want to bridge that gap between ignorance and education. We live in the most beautiful place in the world, yet we lead the nation in conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. We have 365 days of almost perfect weather, yet we’re so unhealthy. NRG is real life, real options programming with experts to teach and guide us to live a better life, not only adding years to our life, but life to our years.”
Kimura joined Miller in the fast. In fact, the three young producers try everything themselves, determining whether it works or not, before making it a part of their show. They choose to lead by example — you likely won’t see them in line for a fast food sandwich at 2 a.m. — hoping that the people of Hawaii will be inspired to live healthier too.
So far the three have aired 10 shows, and the possibilities seem endless. They’ve covered everything from antioxidants to water to personal training to Lasik eye surgery. Upcoming show topics include skin care, obesity and a show all about air.
They personally decide what topics to cover, do the research, find the experts in the related fields locally and sit down with them.
“What we do for the show is what we live each day,” says Yen. “It’s really not hard to come up with ideas because we live this lifestyle. So we get to go into detail about things we do, things we like and things in life that we question.”
Yen, Miller and Kimura have also gone a step further, instituting a 98-Day Challenge. Through NRG TV, contestants of all ages were encouraged to improve their overall health in 98 days.
“We knew people needed to be motivated to do anything, even to better their own health,” says Yen, 35. “So the 98-day challenge is the Hawaii version of a very similar EAS Body For Life contest done nationally. Our local version also has prizes for those who make the most overall progress.”
There are three age categories, and a male and female winner will be chosen from each age group at the end of the contest May 10. Then judges pick an overall winner, who will get the grand prize of a one-year lease of a 2005 super-charged Mercedes- Benz.
“The total prize package is over $50,000 and includes treatments to Q Laser Center, Mandara spa packages, getaways on Vacations Hawaii, Bright Smile treatments, golf packages, scans at Holistica and more,” says Miller.
In the initial sign-up, Miller, Yen and Kimura took not only body fat measurements of each contestant, but also measured antioxidant levels, resting heart rate and blood pressure.
“This wasn’t just about losing weight,” says Miller. “Someone can look great on the outside, but be terribly unhealthy on the inside. We wanted a winner who not only looks like a swimsuit model, but who has a healthy inside — someone who is also warding off things like cancer and aging.”
More than 300 people signed up for this first 98-Day Challenge — ranging in age from their early 20s to 60s.
Miller, Yen and Kimura also invited contestants to come in throughout the challenge to check their body mass.
With the Mercedes-Benz parked right in the middle of Gold’s Gym on South Street, motivation is not hard to come by.
“People can touch it, feel it, smell it,” jokes Yen, who notes they plan to make the 98-Day Challenge an annual event. “But even if you don’t win the challenge, it gives you motivation to improve yourself.”
One gentlemen Yen and Miller have seen in the gym has lost a total of 70 pounds so far.
“Now we see people coming into the gym more consistently than we are,” says Yen.
That’s saying a lot considering all three are young and in good shape. In fact, none of the three can sit still during their MidWeek interview, alternating between answering interview questions and lifting weights on an exercise ball.
“We’re all native Hawaiian, and part of our interest is the course of health for Hawaiians,” says Miller.
“It’s a genuine interest in our own culture,” adds Yen. “Like we said, Hawaii has some of the highest rates for many diseases — we’re almost No. 1 and No. 2 for everything. So we need to make changes. We want to educate people so they can make better decisions about their health.”
Health is personal for Yen. Three of his family members have suffered through cancer; he lost his father to the disease when he was in high school. “It dawned on me that if I didn’t start looking at my health; the statistics were not in my favor,” he says.
A Damien High grad who obtained his bachelor’s degree in graphic arts at UH, Yen has always been a businessman marching to his own beat. He started his own clothing line, Overdrive Clothing, and was part owner of a nutritional business. He started as a cameraman at KITV4 on the morning news with Kathy Muneno and Paul Udell.
When former KITV4 weatherman Tiny Tadani started his show on OC16, he helped Kimura get a spot in the line-up in return for some help editing Tiny TV.
Kimura also had the tools for success thanks to his father, Lindsey, a chiropractor, who once had a plan to create his own set of videos on health and wellness. “My father, who is really ambitious, decided that production companies were too expensive so he was going to do the videos on his own,” says Kimura, who, with wife Happy, has three children. “He bought a state-ofthe- art video editing system, but then never got around to making the videos.”
Kimura started playing around on the equipment, making amateur surf videos. Now, he says, all that goofing around on the machine has paid off.
So Yen brought Kimura, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools with a self-taught knowledge of shooting and editing video, and Miller, a career firefighter with a knowledge of how to be an on-air talent, together.
Yen fills in the creative aspects, he says. He’s also the best at building relationships with the show’s sponsors and supporters.
The three call their relationship a “synergy.”
“Kevin is right-brained and I’m left-brained and Ikaika is in the middle,” says Miller. “There’s always a difference of opinion, but then there’s a middle road. The main thing is that we really respect each other. We each bring something different to the table and it really works.”
The show so far that garnered the most inquiry was the detoxification show about The Master Cleanse that Miller and Kimura both personally tried.
“It’s neat how many people have come up to me and asked me about it — even people I don’t know,” says Miller. “I think we’re getting to a point in the show where we’re reaching critical mass. Alot of people know what NRG TV is and they’re tuning in and getting the message. To know that people want to know more about these subjects that are affecting their health is really profound for me.”
For Miller, who always thought he was healthy, the show has shown him ways he could change his own lifestyle to be even more fit.
“It’s not like we’re saying you have to be vegan or take all these supplements and run 10 miles a day,” he says. “It’s more like subtle lifestyle changes, from just working out more to getting better sleep to taking a good multivitamin. Whatever way you can make it fit into your life — it’ll be different for every person — but there’s always a way you can make better health a part of your life.”
NRG airs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday nights and repeats at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday.
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