Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Non-profit gym for all abilities officially opens

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Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout (left), Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, the SILC Charitable Trust chief executive Terese Germon and Charlene Watene, general manager of Switched On.
Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout (left), Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, the SILC Charitable Trust chief executive Terese Germon and Charlene Watene, general manager of Switched On.

A gym for people of all abilities has officially opened its doors and already has a membership of more than 100.

Switched On took over the gym on Hocking St in February and it was officially opened on Friday at a ceremony attended by Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, deputy mayor Kelvin Clout, staff and gym users.

General manger Charlene Watene said the facility was built about eight years ago by the McFall family. Bryce McFall was left a tetraplegic after crashing his bike during a ride through the Mamaku Forest in 2002.

Hillary and Morris McFall attended the ceremony.

Disability Resource Centre took over the centre in about 2011 and ran the facility for a few years, Ms Watene said.

In October, the SILC (Supported Individualised Lifestyle Choices) Charitable Trust stepped in and "gave Switched On the thumbs up" to run the gym.

Ms Watene said the not-for-profit gym was completely accessible, and had some extra equipment that could be used by people in a wheelchair. "It's for people with any disability or ability. We work with local physios that use the facility as well."

The gym opened in October with 66 members. As of Friday the membership had more than doubled to 130.

Ms Watene said Switched On wanted to celebrate the gym's success with its members, so waited until officials had space in their calendars to hold an official opening.

Terese Germon, SILC chief executive, opened the ceremony and gave information about how Switched On got involved at Hocking St.

Gym member Robyn Chester shared her realisation that despite what experts told her years ago, getting active and fit was exactly what she needed. She described the positive change the gym had made for her.

Reece Melville, a student at Papamoa College, spoke of his reluctance to join the gym and how it all changed for him as the pain he experienced decreased and his social networks increased.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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