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Burry Port gym owner still fighting fit after 53 years

Ted McKibbin at the gym he founded in Burry Port  in 1957
Ted McKibbin has been running his gym in Burry Port for 53 years, but he has no plans to put his feet up yet

By Nick Parry
BBC News

A lot has changed since Ted McKibbin bought an old wooden hut in 1957 and opened his own gym.

But a few rules are still strictly observed: No under-14s can use the weights. No steroids. And definitely no posing.

Mr McKibbin, now aged 83, is proud that the gym that bears his name near the railway station in Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, remains so traditional.

Former Welsh rugby international Peter Rees at Ted's Gym in Burry Port

Former Welsh rugby international Peter Rees, 84.

"I'll be celebrating my 85th birthday on Monday. I come to the gym three mornings a week.

I start off with a few press-ups and then spend about 25 minutes on the light weights.

I then do about half an hour on the chest, arms and legs. I use the bikes, the rowing machine and the treadmill. I see a lot of my friends and they are using walking sticks but I've been very fortunate. I have never had any serious illness or operations.

I think if you can keep your muscles strong it can save you. Ted has given me a key so I can come at any time."

That said, over the years he has added considerably to the solitary set of barbells that furnished the redundant telephone exchange he bought for £50 to establish Ted's Gym.

The wooden walls have been replaced by brick and it has grown into three rooms and now boasts weight, cycling, rowing and running machines.

"I have always been fit and used to train in the house - my mother used to let us train in the parlour," he said.

"Then one day someone told me that there was an old hut for sale and they wanted £50 - it was from that I started it.

"It has grown from there. We have people from 14 to their 80s."

He said rival gyms had come and gone over the years and believes those that have fallen by the wayside had often tried to be too fashionable, without concentrating on the basics.

Although the television screens and monitors that can be found in some are absent at Ted's Gym, its founder is full of praise for the treadmills and other machines that are common place today.

"The modern machines are the biggest change I've seen," he explained.

"They [customers] can use the weights without the risk of injuring themselves."

He said they were particularly useful for his older clients. His gym has several regulars who are in their 80s.

"I don't allow youngsters under 14. They should not be lifting weights as their muscles are not fully developed.

Ted McKibbin outside the shed that became his gym in 1957
Ted McKibbin (L) paid 50 for the hut and opened the gym in 1957

"In some gyms steroids are being used. No way would I allow anyone using them.

"If some comes here to join I can tell in a minute if they are using steroids.

"[Also] there are no posers here."

He is most proud of the youngsters he has seen pass through his gym.

"When we started there was no youth club in Burry Port," he added.

"But the gym has helped many of them keep out of mischief and as far as I know not one of the youngsters we've had through here has got into any trouble."



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