PUMPING IRON: 87-year-old John Shirley of Kyogle has a work out at the Kyogle Gym as instructor Sandy Cooke looks on.
PUMPING IRON: 87-year-old John Shirley of Kyogle has a work out at the Kyogle Gym as instructor Sandy Cooke looks on. Doug Eaton

Kyogle’s fighting fit

BUREAUCRATS fighting the obesity epidemic could take some advice from the Kyogle Community Gym on inspiring people to exercise regularly.

With almost a quarter of the town's 2700 residents now signed up since its 2011 opening, the one-room gym at Kyogle Showgrounds has been a community success story.

John Shirley, 87, goes three times a week and trains alongside men 20 years his junior. He's lost 8kg and several belt notches since his first visit.

"I was breathless before I went there and found the exercise very beneficial," Mr Shirley said.

There's plenty more inspiring success stories, such as the long-time diabetic who was told by her doctor after six months of regular gym visits she didn't need her medication any more.

The gym's Mark Trudinger said creating a welcoming and comfortable environment for members was the name of the game.

It employs three local female instructors, who are fully qualified and have special certificates in teaching mid-teens and seniors.

"One of the reasons the gym really works is that the instructors are locals, they have a real personal connection with the gym users and know most of them by name," Mr Trudinger said.

"The focus is always on the health and fitness of the users, and when they have significant benefits that's celebrated. They're a member not a customer."

Members' ages range from 14 to 91 - including high school students, local sports clubs, families and seniors.

The gym has recently been short-listed for Regional Development Australia funding for relocation to larger premises.

"We've outgrown it quicker than we thought we would, so we're trying to find a permanent location as quickly as possible," Mr Trudinger said.

The gym is offering three free classes during Seniors Week starting March 18.



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