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The Sports Project: Interviewing top sportspeople in our community

Following a soy latte at a Raglan cafe, Raglan personal trainer Tom Wellby, described his first introduction to competitive sports.

“The school housemaster used to ride a bike every Sunday to get the paper and I used to time him,” Wellby said. “One day, he turned around to me and said: you reckon you could beat me?” As a 12 year old boy, he did not realize this moment would change his life.

The highly respected fitness pro jumped into the sports industry about 25 years ago and never looked back. He helped supervise a gym at age 15. He performed countless marathons and triathlons, and he biked enough miles to circle the earth during his years as a professional cyclist. He graduated with a sports science degree from Brunel University in the UK. These days, he encourages clients to view workouts as appointments that can’t be missed. He thinks of food as fuel. He does not rest.

The Raglan based personal trainer, 38, started his own fitness studio at Whale Bay about 3 years ago. The lineup of clients includes people from all walks of life, as well as national athletes. Wellby is widely recognized in Raglan, and all over the world, for his expertise in strength training, and his commitment to implementing innovative fitness techniques. He emphasizes training that can be transferred from the fitness studio to daily life. “Raglan is like an amazing playground,” he said. “And people don’t use it enough.”

He has a vision of finding simple, fun ways to inspire and motivate people to get fit and healthy. “The key to staying fit is to mix it up constantly. Strike a balance between resistance training, high intensity intervals, longer duration cardiovascular work, and flexibility. And don’t forget about nutrition.”

The fitness expert emphasizes that making the right choices at the dinner table plays a big role in feeling your best. “Nutrition is a big part of fitness and key to a lot of people’s problems,’ he stated. “Being healthy is not just about working out but by creating a healthy lifestyle all around.”

As a vegetarian of 2 years and plant based (vegan) for the past year, Wellby has been focusing more on nutrition, “Vegetables and fruits are a daily must… stay away from processed foods, refined carbs and sugars.” He underscored that managing stress and getting enough sleep are also important for being lean and healthy. “I practice what I preach so I know what works.”
When Wellby moved to Raglan about 5 years ago, he developed a fascination for surfing specific training exercises. “I embrace this new sport… I watch and learn,” he explained. “I observe the guys in the water, analyze their body movements and then I break it down to get a better understanding about all the muscles involved.”

Wellby reckons that all surfers have a muscle imbalance, usually overactive back muscles (especially lower back), and they need to complement this imbalance by building strong core muscles. “This balance is critical for a surfer to get into peak condition and also to prevent injuries…The first thing to do is to determine the imbalance so it can be corrected.”

He said he can help any surfer, no matter the level, improve surfing capabilities by getting their body balanced. “This will provide the foundation for adding speed and power.”

The Whale Bay fitness expert will be going back to university this year to advance his knowledge, specializing in nutrition. His next goal is to offer his clients a truly holistic approach, incorporating all aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

Wellby is grateful to the numerous masters he ran across on his path. “I am so incredibly lucky that I met the right people at the right time. It was the obvious choice to go into this world.“

Charlotte Marten

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