If Karl can do it, so can you.
That’s the motto of Carrington-based gym Groundwork Fitness which opened late last year.
Owner Karl Versteeg was born with Cerebral Palsy and since he was 14, he has participated in weight training to help with his movement.
After living in Sydney for 15 years, Karl, his wife Sal and daughter Poppy moved to Newcastle, where he continued his regime.
“Strength training has basically kept me upright – if I didn’t squat and deadlift, I’d be either in a wheelchair or finding it very difficult to walk,” he said.
“Never has this been more highlighted to me than when I built Groundwork with my Dad.
“For four months I didn’t train, and I felt my movement becoming more and more restricted until I started training again.”
He opened the gym to create space for older people to train.
“That’s why we don’t have mirrors or loud music and we have a smaller membership so we can really concentrate and look after our members,” he explained.
“Osteoporosis Australia says that the more we age the more important it is to train with weights, but there isn’t really anywhere in Newcastle where you can do this.
“There are plenty of gym’s with machines, but they only train a body part, where we are training a movement by using squats and deadlifts.
“In short, I wanted a gym where I’d want to train at – not a big box gym where it’s this churn and burn mentality.”
He adds one of the biggest hurdles they face is convincing their members that they are strong.
“Joining a gym is daunting – even I hated it as everyone judges you as you walk in the door,” Karl said.
“Groundwork is completely different to this; I can’t stress enough that our environment is one of inclusion and being non-intimidating.
“We don’t have contracts or cancellation fees.
“My idea is that we teach you the lift as a skill so you can take it wherever you want to.”
Since opening in December, Karl has received incredible feedback.
“We have a small membership at the moment, but every member is seeing the results that weight training can achieve in such a short time,” he said.
Groundwork Fitness offers weight training and conditioning with specially made equipment.
In the future the gym is set to expand by adding movement classes for over 50’s, including fall prevention classes.
He hopes his members can come along to the gym and gain more than just some exercise.
“After each session, people can grab a coffee and have conversations with other members,” he said.
“This way they have the social interaction, physical conditioning that can help their mental health.”
Go to groundworkfitness.com.au for more.