Sunday, 27 September 2020


Gym owners look forward to serving the community at new purpose-built premises

Their vision for a dynamic, modern space to cater to the fitness needs of the whole community was realised last week for the team behind Whitianga gym, Evolution Fitness.

Husband and wife, Buddy and Billie Hunter, celebrated a huge milestone when they welcomed members for the first time into their new purpose-built premises on Joan Gaskell Drive. “It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s been so worth it,” says Buddy.

The couple say they knew within six months of purchasing the gym in 2016 that they would need to grow and expand. “We could see the demand was there, but we were being limited in terms of what we could offer because of the space we had in Coghill Street,” says Buddy.

With a fully equipped 250m² of gym floor, 80m² for group classes and a further 80m² for martial arts, those restrictions are now firmly a thing of the past. As well as getting creative with their fitness offerings, Buddy and Billie have also put time and thought into what various sections of the community need in order to be able to use and enjoy the gym.

“One of the things we have been able to add is a child-minding service,” says Buddy. “It means if a parent of a young child wants to take a morning class or come work out for an hour, there is someone available to take care of their little one while they do that.

Another addition is an on-site café and smoothie bar, which provides a convenient option for members to grab a snack or a drink and for friends to relax and enjoy some social time.

“This really has been driven by the community,” says Buddy. “People expect more from a gym nowadays, it is essentially a community hub. For some people it is where they meet and socialise. Other people want to try a new class or they may be just getting into fitness for the first time. We also have sports people and athletes who have very specific training needs. As a gym in a community like Whitianga, it is important that we cater for everyone. There is a really good vibe here and everyone is welcome, no matter what their age, their ability or their fitness level. Our oldest member is 96 and he is in here four time a week going for it.”

The gym is available 24/7 for members, and personal trainers are available for those who would like to create a personalised plan and have ongoing support. Classes range from the very popular Spin (high energy cycling) to High Intensity Interval Training and ZUU - a more holistic workout suitable for all ages and levels. The physical and mental challenges on offer in the Toa Martial Arts programme include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts, as well as a variety of kids classes.

Buddy and Billie say many people have found a new or renewed focus on fitness and wellbeing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And for anyone not quite sure where to start, they emphasise that’s no problem. “Come on in and see us,” says Buddy. “We can show you around and talk you through the various options, there is something to suit everyone. Everyone is really friendly and it doesn’t matter where you are right now with your fitness, the important thing is to just make a start and you will be surprised at how much you will improve just coming a couple of times a week.”

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Pictured: Buddy and Billie Hunter, the owners of Evolution Fitness gym in Whitianga.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.