It’s not all that common these days to see a Dad and son working out together at a gym, but as Father’s Day approaches, Mahurangi Matters sat down with one such combination, and heard a story of struggle, aroha and hope …
Some months ago, former chef Chase Ruwhiu was battling with addiction and moved back home with his parents in Warkworth after a relationship breakup. He was determined to make a new start and be a good Dad to his own son, five-year-old Te Aorere.
Among the things Chase wanted to focus on was his health, particularly after significant weight gain that often accompanies getting clean. But the road to the gym proved to be a rocky one.
“I didn’t have super motivation to go,” the 33-year-old says. “Struggling with social anxiety and depression made it hard to go to the gym and be around other people.”
There were days when he’d get into his kit and arrive, but then sit outside grappling with anxiety, before simply going back home.
Joe Reihana, 52, recalls his son talking to him about his mostly unused gym membership, and suggested going together.
“So I joined up, too,” Joe says.
And so the two began working out together at Creo Fitness Warkworth Gym, early in the day, about three times a week.
“Joe was there to encourage me,” Chase says. “We also got into eating right, doing all those good things that go with the gym as well.”
Chase says they aren’t overly competitive, “but I definitely do have a look over and see, oh, he’s got two [weight] plates on there. I’m going to have to get two plates on, next time I’m on that one.”
“He’s an amazing role model, just being there and being the voice of reason,” he says. “I’m drawing from his calm nature, learning to have patience with my own boy. My boy’s quite crazy,” he laughs, before adding, “I was pretty crazy, too.”
Joe says he’s benefiting, too.
“It was to help Chase along [that I first went], not for my own gains. But I guess that after a while I started feeling better about myself as well. I thank my boy for that.”
Joe said he and Chase’s Mum were there to help their son, all the way.
“As parents, that’s what we do. Even though they fall off the rails, we’re there to pick them back up.”
Meanwhile, Chase says those anxiety issues are waning, helped by going with Joe, but also by the supportive staff at Creo Fitness.
“I go inside and everyone’s saying hello. It’s welcoming. I can’t wait to go. If there’s people in there it doesn’t really faze me now. I may have had a hard day, but when I get into the gym, all I want to do is start tuning in.
“It may just be the gym to some people, but for me it’s really helped in so many aspects of my life – to learn about myself, to eat properly and to cook good meals for my own son.”