Taranaki man who opened home gym to community gifted a revamp

A Taranaki man who helps his community get fit says he feels 'born again' after getting a fitting gift from his community.

Garry Topping has dedicated much of his life to helping the people of Waitara stay healthy by opening up his home gym to the town for almost 50 years. Now they're saying thank you. 

Every morning, five days a week, Topping starts his day with a workout. He's been strength training since 1962 after seeing his first Muscle magazine.

He built his gym in 1972 with equipment he had purpose-made and opened it up to the people of Waitara.

"I like to see other people get out of it what I got out of it," Topping says. "It's a reward that you carry with you all the time, so everyone's a winner that trains.

"I'm just so keen for someone to do well, I like to see people better themselves.  You get a great buzz and feel you can take on the world."

Thousands have used his gym over the years, with some going on to successful sporting careers. But the gym's seen better days.

When Snap Fitness New Plymouth owner Neil White refurbished his club this year, he was left with spare equipment he wanted to donate to good causes.

"We had a few nice nominations through local community people, and Garry's name came top of that list," White says.  "It was kind of inspirational to see what Garry had done for the local community, and along with that it seemed a shame not to then refit the whole thing at the same time."

So he enlisted some local businesses and volunteers to give it a total revamp.

"It's quite astounding when complete strangers come forth like that," Topping says. "I didn't know a thing about it till I got a call on the phone. I thought someone was having me on."

He was left overwhelmed by the finished result.

"It's unbelievable, most people come here are on the take - not many are on the give."

Topping wasted no time getting back to training, continuing to build muscles and community spirit.


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