Wellsford’s Melissa McCabe had been working full-time in her new business for only three weeks when lockdown threw a spanner in the works.
At age 27, Mel followed her dreams and quit her office job to open the Mad Mel Movement gym on El Hama Road in Wellsford.
Despite losing her income in lockdown, Mel has soldiered on.
She has kept her membership on track with their fitness, hosting Zoom coaching sessions online and uploading daily workout routine videos.
Once Level 3 kicked in, she made the unconventional move of allowing members to borrow gym gear through a contactless pick up so they could use it at home.
“Fingers crossed it all comes back, but I know and trust all of my local members,” she says.
Mel began offering Crossfit classes two months ago, and when her membership ballooned to 75 she realised it was time to open her own premises.
Mel was born in Papua New Guinea but grew up in Mangawhai and attended Otamatea College. When spending an exchange year in the United States while at university and “drinking and eating too many burgers and beers”, she decided to take charge of her health and began training in Crossfit.
She has been training for seven years and has competed in the national Crossfit games. She qualified by being among the top 30 ranked athletes in the country.
Mel was working in the construction industry as a bid writer in London when the global pandemic hit. She and her partner decided to come back home to Wellsford “for a couple of months”. When Covid-19 showed little sign of subsiding, she decided to settle permanently.
During the first lockdown, Mel was holding zoom workout sessions with friends and family. When she was reaching 20 people per call, Mel decided perhaps coaching was in fact calling her.
Mel says she was heading towards burn out, working a full time job and coaching Crossfit in her lunch break and in the evenings, prompting her to take the plunge with the new business.
“One of my clients was a property manager, and I told her that within three years I would like to have my own gym. Three weeks later, she had me signing a lease.”
Lockdown has meant Mel has had to put all her memberships on hold, but she says she has been really pleased to see how her members have kept up their training.
“It’s been great to see people who never thought they could do it by themselves keeping motivated with their workout,” she says.
Mel offers classes for everyone, ranging from athletes to absolute beginners, but has been focusing on helping people get started on their fitness journey.
She will be able to resume reduced-size classes in Level 2 and hopes to hold an open workshop for the community to properly launch the new gym in Level 1.