Raleigh gym

Adrian Betts at his gym in Raleigh
Adrian Betts at his gym in Raleigh

There have been rumours on Facebook about a gym in Raleigh, and it’s true, there is one.

But it’s not quite ready to go public yet.

Fitness trainer Adrian Betts had the idea of starting a gym in Bellingen in mind when he moved here from Sydney with his wife Amanda a couple of years ago.

However, caring for two-year-old daughter Millie and studying for a degree in exercise physiology and running boot camps in Connell Park and doing personal training sessions and dispensing nutrition advice online has slowed down the execution of his gym-for-Bellingen plan somewhat.

Not that he has slowed down himself. The intensity of his sporting activities is formidable. There’s adventure racing, a kind of off-road triathlon that involves teams navigating a course on foot, mountain bikes and kayaks, sometimes for days on end with minimal sleep. And he does ultra distance running. And survival runs – these are like ultra marathons but through rugged bush terrain and with a twist.

He has one coming up next month at Colo Vale near Sydney.

“It’s a 75km ultra marathon, so all running, but then you’ve got survival tasks along the way,” Adrian said.

“You might have to chop down a tree and build a raft and paddle it up the river. It’s hard. They design it so only about five people finish out of 30 starters.”

Adrian has also been doing a bit of wife-carrying, winning the event held at the Bellingen Show, the national championships in Singleton in 2016 and travelling to Finland to compete against the world’s best in June this year.

Amanda and Adrian with their trophy from the wife-carrying Australian championship

Amanda and Adrian with their trophy from the wife-carrying Australian championship

“We were doing really well – we would have won,” he said, “but I fell over.”

Anyway, the gym is there at 7 Bayldon Drive and it’s got stacks of equipment. There are pin-loaded machines – leg curl, squat and calf raise, seated chest press, seated row, shoulder press, lat pull-down, bicep curl, pec deck …  And plate-loaded ones like the leg press, and a Smith machine and a Universal machine. There are high and low cables and a sit-up bench, dumb bells and kettle bells, medicine balls, Olympic bars and even a battle rope.

There’s not much in the way of cardio gear – you can skip or step up and down on a box, or perhaps run round the block before your weights session – but that’s because there’s no more room.

Adrian has his eye on a bigger place in Raleigh and longer-term, he wants the gym to be in Bellingen.

He has a development application (DA) almost ready to present to Bellingen Shire Council, covering change of use aspects for the site like parking and signage, and he has a couple of potential employees in mind for when he can’t be there himself.

Some of the specialised programs he’d like to run in his new gym when he finishes his exercise physiology degree at the University of New England next year involve the psychology of endurance racing, which he finds as enjoyable as the physicality.

“The mental toughness side of it, tenacity, goal-setting, that sort of stuff. And using exercise as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Increasing body awareness and confidence of young female teenagers – teaching them how to train well and eat well.”

So, the question everyone wants answered: when is this gym going to be open?

“Ideally, I’d like to have a full gym up and running by early next year,” Adrian said.