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the birth of bonobo

Hey it's Timon here, I remember opening the doors to Bonobo back in March 2017. We had 3 customers, a completely new concept and zero experience running our own business, to say I was nervous is definitely an understatement!

Fast forward to 2022 and we have over 120 members, 3 staff and proof that the idea I started with back in 2014 had some legs.

Kids play. It's how they learn, build friendships and connections to the world.

But play is getting lost. Yes, of course kids still play, but society is becoming more linear, more structured. Learning is becoming more specialised and less intuitive. The older kids get, the less they play.

We're out to change this.

We built a place that kids naturally love to play in.


We designed a program that put play at its foundation. All our skills are taught through games or challenges, through play. 

We mix structure with free play, so kids get a chance to do the things THEY love and imagine, things we just don't think of, why? Because we're adults!

Bonobo is the place for kids (and obviously big kids can find that here)

who are we?

I'm Timon, the dude on the left of the picture.


I've taught and coached kids my entire adult life, mainly in learn to swim and competitive swimming.


In 2016 I was a bit burnt out from competitive swimming, and decided to action an idea I'd had a few years earlier. I met James (the other dude in the picture) for coffee and realised he'd had a similar thought process (James is one of NZ's top diving coaches, also working with kids of all ages). Together we started to lay out what this 'thing' could look like, because back then it didn't have a name.

Over the 6 years we've been running, we've slowly adapted the space to make it even more fun, adapted the program to be even more fun, and had a ton of fun ourselves (including the stress and unique challenges of running your own business).

Kelly (singlet) was one of NZ's top swimmers, but in recent years has really upped her health and fitness qualifications. She too has worked with kids for many years in swimming, and has provided much of the substance behind the skills we teach in the gym and our program framework.

Sarah (t-shirt) hit us up out of the blue after noticing the gym while going to an F45 class. She brings a wealth of experience in kids programs from Australia. She's designed her own Bonobo Bounce program that she's been taking into schools, helping build kids emotional development through movement and play. Sarah is also the boss of our holiday programs.

More recently we've had Jack Cooper join us to help with our after school classes and run our Parkour classes. Jack is a local Parkour athlete with years of coaching up at Karori Rec. He's an absolute beast at Parkour and we're stoked to have his imagination and skills onboard.

stuff about actual bonobos

We can't finish this section without talking a bit about the bonobo. The bonobo, along with the chimpanzee are Human's closest relatives. Whereas chimpanzees are known for male power politics, cooperative hunting and intergroup warfare. Bonobo society is egalitarian and peaceful. One major distinction of the bonobo seems to be sensitivity to others. Females, especially mothers, play a pivotal role. Bonobos form a gentle matriarchy, offering a provocative alternative to the male-based model of human evolution that emphasises man the hunter and tool maker.*

We think Bonobo's are pretty cool, kind of like the hippy ape, and we're proud to name our gym after them!

*Taken from 'Bonobo, the forgotten ape'

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