History of The Waialua Health Club

 
 

The Waialua Health Club began in late 1940's with a group of friends sharing a common interest in lifting. Some of the lifters are Harold Shin, Raymond Yamanoha, Sally Akita, and Hiro Mende. These lifters won numerous bodybuilding and Olympic lifting titles. Then in about 1949 Frank Galbiso began lifting. Training mostly by himself Frank gained 70 lbs. in one year going from 135 lbs. to 205 lbs. All the equipment used were homemade. None of the fancy store bought equipment we currently have. They had one bench made of a 4 x 4 inch wooden board and one Olympic bar set. Yet through hard work Frank set many records in the process. He was the first person to bench 500 lbs. in Hawaii. Invited by Olympic gold medal winner and member of the Olympic Hall of Famer Tommy Kono, he traveled to the Nu'uanu Y to lift and give demos. He also traveled to Ewa and Kahuku giving demonstrations. Soon after Nito and Ponti Lavarias joined. Nito also put on 70 lbs. going from 120 lbs. to 190 lbs. All these gains were done before protein drinks, Creatine and other types of nutritional aids. Gradually through the years Claude Ortiz, the famous Pupukea paniolo joined that group. All these lifters are over the age of 70. A few are deceased.

In the 1960's teenager Homer Keanu was trained by Frank. In a few years Homer was featured on ABC's Wide World of Sports competing and placing in the World Championship Arm Wrestling Tournament. Hamilton Yap, the gym director then allowed the lifters to use a back portion of the gym to train. The size of the weight room was about a third of our present health club. In time a new gym was needed and during this construction period in the 70's, the weights were moved to the Waialua Community Center in Haleiwa. When the new Waialua Recreation Center was completed, our City Council representative at that time, Toraki Matsumoto was approached by Frank and Ponti to obtain a section of the gym for our club to train in. Toraki conferred with the Parks and Recreation officials and the Waialua Health Club was allowed to use a section of the gym located about where the arts and craft room is now. We had about 35 members at this time and soon outgrew that area though and needed a bigger area for our club. Ponti and Frank were instrumental in lobbying our new City Council representative, Randy Iwase and those in charge of the Parks & Rec. to allow the Waialua Health Club to have a bigger section of the gym to train. Invited to one of our meetings and seeing the room filled sardine like with our members; Councilman Iwase said we definitely needed an extension. Through Frank and Ponti's efforts we now have this expanded weight room.

Seeing that in order for the club to survive with the huge influx of lifters Frank instituted the member workout sign-in and sign-out which we still use today. Meeting with the officers he helped to create the yearly due schedule to help us replace and upkeep of our aging equipment.

Besides the original lifters, Homer and Frank who won numerous titles our club can boast other members who have done well in strength training. Ernie Santiago won the Mr. Jr. America title and placed well in other national contests. Albert Andrade held the world record in the bench press at 132 lbs. He benched an incredible 363 lbs. before the days of the bench shirt. Terry Morgan and Leyton Galapia won a bunch of local bodybuilding titles. Michael Awai placed in a national powerlifting contest and held Hawaii State bench records which only recently were broken. At 165 lbs. he benched over 440 lbs. Dale Yoshizu, placed 2nd at the Jr. Nationals and held 4 State records totaling 1311 lbs. at 132 lbs. Presently we have Master lifter Carlos Tantog, Nando Corpuz, and Eric Funakoshi who have placed in powerlifting meets nationally. Carlos has national records in his age 60 age group. As you can see, we have had tremendous lifting going on even if our club is small compared to the big gyms in Honolulu.

Other old timers who have been lifting for about 40 years since the 1960's and also contributed much to our club are Benny Albios, Fred Cambonga, Eugene Cambonga, and Homer Keanu. Frank, Ponti, Benny, Fred, Eugene, and Homer still train here. I've been a member for about 27 years but am still a "young" old timer compared to them.

We owe a lot to these old timers who blazed the trail for us. Without them we wouldn't be training at the only gym in the Honolulu City & County. We'd be paying $200-$360 a year training elsewhere instead of the $21 we currently pay. All the above lifters train in the morning. If you see them do thank them for all they've done. Also, their knowledge in training can't be beaten. Do talk story with them.

Our History