THROUGHOUT his sporting career Ryan Tongia has had some big weekends.
But the former Papua New Guinea rugby league representative and Highlanders Super Rugby outside back agreed this weekend will be one of his biggest. Tongia and wife Rachel open their F45 Training Gym in Hastings tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow afternoon Tongia and his Havelock North rugby teammates will attempt to end Napier Old Boys Marist's unbeaten run in Hawke's Bay's premier club rugby competition and on Monday Tongia will play for the Hawke's Bay Magpies in their pre-season match against Wairarapa Bush in Featherston.
Tongia sacrificed a contract with the Highlanders this season to focus on the gym.
"It's the 26th F45 Gym to be opened in New Zealand. F45 was born in Australia and there are now more than 1000 of the gyms across 36 different countries," Rachel explained.
A former Napier Girls' High School student, Rachel, is a sister to former Magpies fullback Jearrad Stephenson. She made 48 appearances for the New Zealand open women's touch team, the majority while she was based in Australia, and met Tongia while playing at a Fijian sevens tournament.
During her school days Rachel introduced rugby to NGHS and along with a then future Black Fern Claire Richardson were key architects of a three-season unbeaten streak.
Like Tongia she can't wait to pass on the benefits of her international sporting experience to clients.
"Our gym is technologically based. Clients are divided into groups who follow three different screens. Innovation is a big key to the franchise's success with no session the same," Rachel explained.
"Saturday's session will be a Hollywood one, a hybrid between cardio and strength. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays our sessions will be cardio based and Tuesdays and Thursdays they will be strength based."
The pair pointed out the gym is open to anyone 16 and over and although membership is encouraged individuals wanting one-off sessions will be catered for.
"We will focus a lot on functional training so our clients will function better throughout the day," Rachel, said.
Tongia said numerous big names in New Zealand sport including All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith are involved in F45 gyms throughout the country.
Earlier this year he represented a team from the Riccarton franchise which finished 23rd out of 603 teams at an international inter-gym teams event in Bondi.
"We're in the Bay to stay now. Rachel grew up here and we're keen to raise a family here. We want to give back to the community by helping people get healthy through a premium service," Tongia said.
"At the same time it's a good way to set up for life after rugby. Professional sportspeople are encouraged to plan ahead and this is our way of doing that."
Tomorrow's match for the villagers against NOBM will be Tongia's first since collecting a knee injury in their 16-13 Nash Cup quarter-final loss to Taradale.
"I should be right for half a game at least. We've got a plan to beat them ... remember our last win against them at Park Island," Tongia said, referring to a 29-22 victory in 2014 in which he scored three run away tries.
A veteran of 31 games for the Magpies between 2014 and '16, Tongia, 28, has scored 95 points for the Bay. He will start on the right wing on Monday and is looking forward to securing a Mitre 10 Cup squad berth again.
"We've got an exciting group of players. We may be short on experience but we're full of talent."
■Magpies team for Monday: Danny Toala, Ryan Tongia, Sasa Tofilau, Pasqualle Dunn, Mason Emerson, Lincoln McClutchie, Ellery Wilson, Hannon Brighouse, Ricky Hayes, Lui Luamanu, Matt Gardner, Tom Parsons, Joe Apikotoa, Jacob Devery, Jason Long.
Substitutes: Forwards, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Nathan Tweedy, Ben Hamelink, Sam Ulufanoa. Backs: Folau Fakatava, Tianua Poto, Shae Tucker, Hayden Hann, Michael Buckley, Mitch Drew.
Injured: Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Tim Farrell, Lester Maulolo, Tamati Samuels, Fa'alemiga Selesele, Josh Kaifa, JJ Taulagi, Mark Braidwood, Lucas Goodin, Chris Johnston, Aleki Vuki.
Unavailable: Devan Flanders, Will Tremain (both with NZ 20s), Johnny Ika (Tonga A), Will McGoon (Away).