New Zealand cricketing great John Reid was very much a squash trail-blazer in 1963 when he opened what eventually became Club Kelburn. The John Reid Squash Centre was hugely influential in making squash a popular sport in New Zealand; soon becoming the focal point of the emerging sport in Wellington, creating a demand that resulted in the building of a number of private clubs- before him the sport barely existed in the city.
THIS IS A LINE DRAWING OF THE JOHN REID SQUASH CENTRE TAKEN FROM JOHN REID'S BOOK-SWORD OF WILLOW (1962)
Reid modelled the commercial centre on a complex he had seen in Australia. It had five courts, a restaurant, snack bar and shop, and hosted Wellington inter-club, senior and junior tournaments, and mid-week women’s matches. Businessmen liked to play there at lunchtime, and students from nearby Victoria University were attracted to the centre, an association that has prospered, including the creation of the University Squash Club which existed for years. Two of squash’s greatest players Australians Heather McKay and Geoff Hunt, appeared at the centre. Later three more courts were built along with a golf driving range.
JOHN REID WITH THE NZ SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR TROPHY AND OTHERS, 1955
The centre was bought by the New Zealand Squash Rackets Association, later to become Squash New Zealand in 1978, and renamed the National Squash Centre. Four more courts were added.
Since Rob Walker’s appointment as manager in 1994 there have been a number of significant developments. These include changing the name to Club Kelburn in 1995 as the centre diversified with the establishment of the first gymnasium area. Walker revived the squash leagues and the golf driving range, introduced a business house squash competition, and increasingly catered for the rapidly growing gym membership. The multi-million dollar Hell Pizza business was started in the area now occupied by a physiotherapist.
Winning Team Wellington squash squads have trained at the centre under Walker’s supervision, and he helped guide Tamsyn Leevey to a national individual title, she then went on to win world championship and Commonwealth Games doubles medals. The centre has hosted many of New Zealand’s leading players and the national secondary schools championships. It has been very profitable in Walker’s time, earning more than two million dollars for Squash New Zealand from 1994 to 2009.
Story by Peter Bidwell
Gary - 67
Hi my name is Gary and I'm 67 years old, I have been working out at Club K since January 2003. Before attending Club K I suffered a Heart attack and a triple by-pass. I was only allowed to do cardio work to start with, and with the careful and professional staff at Club K I managed to do the cardio exercises the trainers had planned for me. In the March of that year I was allowed to start on using weights in my exercise routine. Four years later I'm still working out and enjoying myself at the gym, and thanks to Club Kelburn and the staff I'm fitter now than I was 20 years ago.
Gavin - 52
I've been a member of the Club Kelburn gym for over five years. Before joining Club-K I'd been a member of several other Wellington gyms. I was looking for a better deal and was delighted to discover in Club Keburn a gym that really fits my needs. Not only are the fees significantly more reasonable than other gyms in the city, the good availability of free-to-members parking is a big plus. Further, the gym has a lot of high quality gear so there's no waiting for machines or weights, etc. But the people are the best part of Club-K. Members are down-to-earth, all shapes, sizes and ages, there are natural sports people and the less able, like myself; but all are helped to be serious about exercise. The staff are friendly, professional and genuinely concerned about members. I am very fortunate that a Club-K personal trainer diagnosed that I have a potentially fatal condition that was subsequently confirmed by medical specialists. I am particularly grateful for her professional insight and ongoing professional care. The care and encouragement that I receive at Club-K makes it one of the best parts of my life.
Fran - 36 - Mother of 3
I love Club K. It is a great location, and they have a great yearly price, or weekly fee. Parking is always available, which is great. You can always get the gear you want to get on, and the staff are very friendly!
Laura - 20 - Uni Student
I have been coming to Club K for almost 3 years and one of the main reasons I chose to join is because of the location(being close to the Uni but not literally in the Uni), but also the fact that you can almost always use the equipment you want without the crowds. The friendly customer service is also a bonus!!!
Don - 73
I have attended Club Kelburn for six years. During that time I have had a one-hour session each week with a Personal Trainer. The primary reason for this exercise has been to strengthen my left leg damaged by a serious accident. I have found Club Kelburn of great assistance to me, with knowledgable trainers bringing a well-planned programme of exercises both while using a wide range of up-to-date machines at the gym and also for me to carry out at home during the week. The staff are pleasant to clients and the cost is reasonable.
Marty - 32
The Staff and atmosphere at Club Kelburn has provided me with an environment where I have been able to meet and exceed my physical and mental wellbeing goals. In my time with Club Kelburn I have redefined my own personal fitness and have had fun with good people doing so. Working hard at Club K has become part of my weekly routine, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you've got the determination to make a difference, Club Kelburn can help you achieve it.