Richard and Judy Fleming remember, like it was yesterday, the day they signed up to join Millennium Institute of Sport and Health.
On their way to Taupō for a family holiday they decided to divert their journey for a swim and to inspect the new facility they had heard so much about.
And that was it, they were sold. On 16th December 2001, Richard and Judy Fleming became ‘Original Gym Members’.
Like most ‘Originals’ they signed their membership contracts in a temporary building situated at the entrance to the athletics track.
With construction still underway, Richard recalls how the couple did not quite manage a swim that day.
“We dropped in for a swim but found contractors smoothing concrete on the bottom of an empty pool. Subsequent visits to the pool made up for that day.”
Upon the signing of their contracts, the waiting game began.
The couple explain how they received a letter from Steve Bramley, CEO at the time, stating that due to setbacks, including the Auckland weather, the opening of the facility would now be 4th February 2002.
AUT Millennium’s original health and fitness gym was located on the lower ground level, surrounded by a basketball court, the indoor running track and rock climbing wall.
Members enjoyed their workouts alongside some of New Zealand’s best athletes. It was, and still is, a busy area.
“We enjoyed cross-pollination and discussion on sports and the like with members, elite athletes and staff”, explains Richard.
The couple have always been keen group-fitness class participants and Judy explains how often they would have to sneak into conference rooms to find space.
When the conference rooms were busy they would head off to the Lodge to find a room.
Judy even confesses to taking some classes herself when there were no instructors available.
“We’ve taken too many classes over this period to name. Some of the more recent ones are Pilates, yoga, boxing, powerlifting, ‘abs’, spin-cycling and swimming”, explains Richard.
Such was their passion for the organisation and their love of keeping healthy and fit, the couple would sometimes visit the facility up to six times a week.
Today they will tell you that they have settled for a more comfortable three times a week and focus on both individual workouts and classes. That is roughly 3500 workouts.
Throughout the last 15 years the pair have watched the facility grow from its original size in 2002 to the facility which exists today.
Changes to the facility included relocating the health and fitness gym, which allowed for greater floor space and brought with it new equipment.
Importantly, the new gym has a group fitness class, meaning no more conference rooms for Judy.
“Over the years we have thoroughly enjoyed being members and seeing all the changes, the facility grow and become more sophisticated from the lower ground level, where we started, to the ‘pearly heights’ upstairs.”
Whilst health and fitness is a key driver for both Richard and Judy, there is clearly other motivations to their 15 years of regular workouts.
“We have enjoyed the social aspects of AUT Millennium and cementing friendships, made during workouts at the gym and pool, explains Richard.
“Staff changes over this long period have been many and varied, replaced with other friendly, caring and helpful ones. Our thanks to all staff, previous and current, for their friendship and assistance.”
Olympian, Tracey Lambrechs, who has worked as an AUT Millennium Gym Instructor for over ten years, explains that the couple are a much-loved part of the gym.
“They are super-friendly. You will always find them smiling and keen for a chat and love to ask me about how my weightlifting is going. They are regular members who we absolutely love.”
Richard and Judy Fleming embody AUT Millennium’s reason for being and its 15 years of rich history.
Committed to living their lives to the fullest, they ensure they get the very best out of everything AUT Millennium has to offer: fitness classes, swimming, Gym member evenings and building friendships.
You will find them chatting to members, staff and athletes. Always with a smile and a clear drive to be the best they can be.
“It’s been a long and enjoyable journey and one which we look forward to continuing into the future. Thank you.”