It’s a Jungle Out There

She may be small, but 23 year old Waipu lass, Toni Sturt is a powerhouse of inspiration and determination. At just 5’2” (161cm) and weighing only 56kg, Toni has big dreams to lift personal best levels for herself and her community. She’s opened a gym and is training hard to qualify for her first national weightlifting competition in October and the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Toni has always been intrigued by the human body – what it can do and how far you can push yourself. She realised in October last year while training in the UK that she was starting to get good at weight lifting and needed to find a coach to help her push herself. She found Caleb Symon who runs NZ Weightlifting Academy in Ruakaka when she got back to New Zealand. He has since morphed into her boyfriend and they now share the academy facilities to train and run their respective coaching businesses fueled by a joint desire to help people achieve their own goals with the support of like-minded people who feel like extended family.

When I asked Toni why she started ‘Jungle Fitness,’ she said; “Being active, staying fit and being part of community energises and makes me feel good about myself. I want other people to experience the same for themselves. It’s hard and not much fun doing stuff on your own. I want fitness training to become a way of life, not a chore, so I’ve made it affordable and easy for people to fit it into their busy lives. I’m damn good at butt kicking and I’m sure my mum would attest to the fact I’m pretty good at pushing people to their limit too! Time and money is tight for some people, especially families, so I encourage them to bring their children with them while they train. The kids love it and often join in too. I’ve now got whole families working out together and groups of teens who want to improve their fitness for surfing, football and dance. It’s a win-win for everyone. The pay-off is the buzz they get from feeling physically and mentally strong and confident about themselves.

Life’s so short. You’ve got to make the most of it. I know I’m young, but I was in the middle of the Christchurch earthquake when I did my adventure training course. It was terrifying. I thought my time was up and have made the most of life ever since. I’ve got a Certificate in Sports Recreation and have trained and coached people in football, hockey, gymnastics, rock climbing, abseiling, hiking, cannonying, crossfit, surfing, paddle boarding and weightlifting.”

Toni’s time will be up at the end of August when she leaves her job at Waipu Four Square to focus full time on making Jungle Fitness a household name in the Bream Bay community and one for herself on the international weightlifting circuit.


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