Leita’s wise about body fitness

By JOHN HALL

TEA Tree mother Leita Robottom is on a treadmill – her fitness business is growing so fast she’s working 14-hour days.

“I love it, but I know it’s not a good lifestyle balance,” said the super-trim pocket dynamo – after all she’s just 158cm.

So Leita is taking on a new personal trainer which she hopes will allow her to reduce her workload to 12-hour days.

Leita Robottom gets a hug from client Kerrie Barrenger of Murdunna.

Leita, an energetic 46-year-old, started up Body Wise Personal Training five years ago and so successful has she been that her clients are coming from up to 50km away for a half-hour session.

Kerrie Barrenger of Murdunna, midway between Dunalley and Eaglehawk Neck, has been visiting Leita’s home gym twice a week for eight weeks.  She discovered Body Wise on Facebook and now she’s lost 87.5cm and 10.9 kilos. Her goal: to trim down for a 30th wedding anniversary holiday at Noosa.

“I feel pretty good,” Kerrie, 53, said as she gave Leita a spontaneous thank you hug after 30 minutes of boxing and step-ups.

The 12 x 7m gym is adjacent to Leita’s home in Merriworth Rd, Tea Tree. Before it was built six months ago, training was done on the verandah and on the lawn when the weather permitted.

And if the clients can’t come to the gym, Leita travels to wherever they are.

She takes equipment to homes, where mothers are housebound with young children, and also to workplaces.  “One of my clients is Rachael Goss, administration manager at Harvey Norman in Moonah,” Leita said. “The staff get quite a kick out of seeing me take a fitball and weights into Rachael’s office twice a week.”

Leita also runs pool sessions in Mornington and Cambridge because some clients with skeletal problems need the water to aid their therapy.

She runs boot camps on Monday and Wednesday evenings in Brighton. “I’ve renamed them Fit Wise 30 because they’re nothing like those military-style boot camps – we work hard but they’re fun.”

Her latest initiative is The Eight-Week Challenge, which offers a personal health screening, 16 personal training sessions and a healthy eating plan. The aim is for each client to lose a kilo for each week of the program.  The program costs $660.

Leita has employed Andrea Wade of Sorell one to two days doing health screening at Cambridge and Richmond GP clinics.  There’s some part-time help in the office and Amity Booth of New Norfolk will be a new personal trainer.

Leita works from 6.30am to 8.30pm each weekday. Normally she has 25 clients a day.  Body Wise is booked out for three months. “I’m so overwhelmed by the numbers,” Leita said, “and the business keeps growing.”

Leita grew up in Tea Tree and after leaving St Marys College she trained as a hairdresser in Sandy Bay. Then her father Maurice Barwick financed her to set up Brighton Hair and Beauty salon in Brighton. “I ran it for 12 years, then I sold the business to look after the kids.”

How did she get into the personal fitness business?

“I was going to a gym for fitness and had my own personal trainers. Then I thought I could do better than them. I didn’t like the ‘one size fits all’ approach and so I became a certified personal trainer and nutritionist.”

Body Wise has never advertised, apart from a billboard on a Metro bus. Leita’s Facebook page shows ‘before and after’ success stories.

“We’re having great results with this program,” she said.

Body Wise’s programs stress the significance of a healthy diet.  And so Leita now has a chef making B-Wise protein bars and balls, dipped in Belgian chocolate, for guilt-free healthy snacks.

Leita’s mentor is brother-in-law John Quinn, a sports physiologist formerly with the Essendon Football Club, now with Greater Western Sydney.

“I see him every six weeks when he comes down to Tassie. I discuss fitness issues with him and occasionally show him x-rays of clients. He’s a great mentor and friend. He’s more like a brother than a brother-in-law.”

Leita’s fitness programs are tailored to the individual needs and limitations of each client. “The gym work is very varied. I like being compassionate and a friend of each client.

“My clients want honesty and support. And they want to achieve their goals – and that’s what I give them.

“I don’t kill my clients. I don’t order them: ‘Drop to the floor and do 60 push-ups!’ I train my clients to their capabilities. I make it fun and people walk away feeling happy and energised.”

Leita’s husband Craig, a farrier and former horse trainer, does the family meals and much of the housekeeping. “I couldn’t do the business without him,” Leita said. “He’s got to cook my meal each night because I finish work so late.”

Their two children live at home and fitness runs in the family.

Jordyn, 21, is studying psychology at UTAS and is a committed horse woman – dressage and jumping.

Lewis, 18, is in Year 12 at Elizabeth College. At the recent power lifting championships in Sydney he was crowned world champion in his age division with a 220 kilo dead lift.

Has Leita helped Lewis on his way to power lifting success? “In the early days perhaps,” she said. “Just in the very early days.”