Gym needs building up
A LITTLE gym at the Nimbin Community Centre is having a big impact on the social fabric of the town.
Wayne's Gym was started by indigenous elder Cecil Roberts and former rugby league player Wayne Cuthbertson in 2010 with assistance from well respected rural GP Sue Page.
The two men, who worked together on a successful Youth at Risk program in 2008, saw the need for a community gym which provided an accepting environment for all-comers.
The gym is more than an ordinary fitness space. It provides youth mentoring, exercise rehabilitation and nutrition and fitness advice for those in the community who can't afford the prices of more typical fitness centres.
Josh McKenzie, 24, and Harley Ogle, 20, have been going to Wayne's Gym since it opened.
Mr Ogle said it had transformed his life.
"Before the gym I was overweight; now I am heaps fitter and stronger and feel better about myself," he said.
He trains five times a week.
Mr McKenzie said the gym was affordable and in demand among locals young and old.
"We can't afford much but we don't get charged big fees here," he said.
"You come in here and get a routine going. After a while, it's such a good feeling you just want to keep coming back."
As Uncle Cecil put it: "The gym gets them on the path to a better diet, better health, better stamina and better outcomes in life."
Mr Cuthbertson has worked in the fitness industry for 30 years, and holds certificates in sports training, children's nutrition and exercise. He is also a recognised indigenous youth mentor.
He takes visitors through fitness routines, instructs them on using weights and provides after-hours sessions for those shy of coming in during regular times.
He also oversees exercise rehabilitation programs for injured and elderly members in the community who can't get to Lismore.
"What we're doing here ends up helping rural and indigenous health," he said.
He said his "lucky" upbringing, through being spotted as a rugby talent, made him realise what less advantaged people in the community often missed out on.
"I was lucky because I was good at sport," he said. "I got a good education… and then opportunities through football to have a job.
"I was given a plan, but some of these people don't even have a plan for next week."
The gym manages to barely scrape by from weekly raffles and is in need of a boost.
Rent, insurance, and the costs of maintaining the gym equipment add up.
Mr Cuthbertson said the gym's long-term success relied on momentum. Bringing the gym to Nimbin's young people for a steady run of years would have a snowball effect.
"I just think if we can all help, we'll have a better community, and being active and eating well makes us all feel better."