It all began in the year 2000. There was once a commercial gym located in the building that is now QML Pathology on Obi Obi Road, Mapleton. The gym was closing its doors leaving paid members with nowhere to train and keep fit. Approximately half of the former clients of that gym met to discuss the setting up of a community gym – not-for-profit, operating on a cost-neutral basis.
At the first meeting, 19 people attended and from those 6 volunteered to be on the steering committee (Lou Rommel (President), Michael Considine (Vice President), Chris Cocks (Secretary), Tamara Mannetje (Vice Secretary), Tracey Angel (Membership Treasurer) and Rhonda Peters (Publicity Officer).
Meetings were held regularly as there was so much to organize. It took over 8 months to establish the gym in its current location with its opening being held on the 18th August 2001.
All legal work to get the gym up and going was kindly provided by Peter Porcellini free of charge.
Chris Cocks suggested the name of the current gym as it covered the whole of the range and it included fitness and gym work covering sports and exercise activities. The gym was incorporated on 19 June 2001.
After the first AGM held on 10 September 2001, the steering committee was replaced. The new committee included, Ross Sanson (President), Chris Cocks (Secretary), Tracey Angell (Treasurer), Liz Rommel and Mike Considine (General Committee Members).
Lou Rommel and Michael Considine looked all over Mapleton to find a location. There was initially a hall/lodge on Obi Obi Rd that was not being used, however the owners were not to be found. Lou and Michael approached Charles Allerton (Former President Mapleton Bowls Club) and Ray Lovelock (Former Founding Member of Mapleton Bowls Club) to see if the gym could use the space underneath the bowls club (the room where the gym is currently located). Charles and Ray were very supportive of the gym and so it was agreed via a gentleman’s agreement that work could begin on improving the space. Not long afterwards, a lease agreement was established and each person who was a member of the gym would contribute a small fee to the bowls club. This was collected by the Treasurer and distributed to the Bowls Club periodically.
The room required a lot of work and most of the improvements were the result of numerous working bees by volunteers within the community. Paint and some building materials were donated. The Maroochy Shire Council contributed a few hundred dollars to cover building material and sheeting for the ceiling. Mike Miller was engaged to do this building work and numerous other community members also volunteered their time and expertise.
The first instructor was Suzie Bell. Suzie was selected from a number of applicants who had applied for the advertised vacancy. Suzie was the instructor for many years before she decided to resign. She was initially paid $12p/h and did all sorts of things other than being a fitness instructor including marketing, cleaning, and attending committee meetings to name a few.
Over the years, Denis Condon came and went. Michelle Perren, belly dancing Lina and Jude Gray were all dedicated instructors at the gym. Paul Parker and Tina McLaren are the current instructors, with Paul commencing his role in 2010 and Tina in 2015.
Initially, the steering committee was going to lease gym equipment, however after lots of research and discussions, Lou Rommel and Michael Considine funded $11,000 to purchase the equipment which was sourced from a gym in Noosa that was upgrading its gym equipment. Because the Range Community Gym and Fitness Centre had no funds whatsoever it was agreed that the money would be repaid to Lou and Michael when and if funds were available in the future…this happened approx. 7 years later much to the surprise of Lou and Michael as they didn’t have any expectations. The gym paid back $10,000. Lou and Michael donated the last $1,000 as a gift.
The gym celebrated its opening with a sausage sizzle inviting a number of VIP Guests, including the former Federal Member for Fairfax, Alex Somlay, the former Member for Nicklin, Peter Wellington, the former Mayor of Maroochy Shire Council, Alison Grosse, and the former Maroochy Shire Council Councillor Div. 1, Hermann Schwabbe.
There were few members in the beginning but there was growing support. There was no annual membership fee, just a standard monthly fee, three monthly fee, six monthly fee and 10 sessions card.
The gym was initially open five days per week mornings and afternoons, however soon after opening, the days/hours were changed for operational purposes to three days per week morning and afternoons.
The initial operation of the gym relied heavily on fundraising and donations.
Lots of functions, dinners, and breakfasts were held regularly along with lots of raffles and car boot sales. Interestingly, not through lack of applying or lack of support, it took approx. five years for the gym to obtain its first major grant (Gaming Machine Benevolent Fund). This grant assisted with the gym’s flooring (carpet) , lighting and ceiling completion.