At 19, Danika is one of our youngest, but most active members.
Danika’s family own Renata’s Coffee Shop, located close to the gym and a popular place for socialising after workouts.
Danika’s sister, Natasha was the first to join The Range Community Gym.
“Natasha liked it, so she suggested I should come and try it out,” says Danika.
“I’d never been to a gym before – I didn’t really know what it would be like,” she says.
“It’s quite nice, though.”
Danika has the long, lean look of an athlete but laughs at any suggestion she is ‘sporty’.
“I played a bit of netball at school, but I wasn’t very good!” she says.
“I’m only fit now because I run with my dog and go to the gym.”
“I don’t really like sport,” Danika admits, “but I do feel a bit sporty when I’m doing circuits and working hard.”
“But,” she is quick to add, “you don’t start out pushing yourself too hard. It takes time to build up to it.”
At first, Danika found working with a trainer a bit intimidating.
“But, then I got to know him and like him,” she says.
“I realised he just wanted me to improve and that, sometimes, you just have to shut up and listen.”
In a small village which provides few organised activities for young people, Danika says going to the gym started as just “something to do”.
“It was an interesting prospect,” she says, “but I got more into it as I started improving.”
“I began with just mini-weights but it’s amazing how quickly you improve. You just have to keep at it!”
Joining The Range Gym also provided a creative outlet for Danika’s life-long interest in dancing.
“I saw the gym was offering additional classes like yoga and Pilates and I thought, ‘Why not dancing?’” she says.
Danika’s lack of formal training was no deterrent.
“I’ve danced all my life,” she says, laughing as she remembers bopping to “Kung Fu Fighting” when she was just five years old.
“I’ve always had my own groove; not ‘booty moves’ – just … cool moves.”
Living up to its name as a ‘community gym’, The Range Gym agreed to Danika offering an optional Tuesday afternoon dance/exercise class at no extra cost to members. Soon, gym members were boogying to songs from Tina Turner and Grease as Danika cleverly combined dance moves with weights and fitness exercises.
“I kept it simple, with only 3-4 moves per dance,” she says, “so that everyone could learn the routines easily and have fun.”
Danika’s taking a break from the dance classes at the moment, but doesn’t discount a return season in the future.
While The Range Community Gym has a number of younger members, its membership does tend towards an older demographic. But, Danika sees this as a positive.
“When there are a lot of young people, things can get ultra-competitive,” she says.
“I think our gym’s a bit nicer. I’ve made good friends there and when you feel like you’re surrounded by good friends you know you’re not going to be judged.”
For Danika, the social aspect of the gym – connecting with people of all ages – is the reason she keeps coming back.
“It’s like a party every time you go!” she says.