Chris Heighington spent more than 20 years at the top of the NRL and for the past seven has trained with some of Australia’s top sports stars. This Wamberal local mentors athletes in rugby league, surfing and skateboarding, as he’s dedicated to helping children develop the right skills for their age within their sport. To get a little insight into his life on the Central Coast, we tackled a few questions with Chris to find out more about his work away from stadium crowds.
What do you love most about the Coast?
“I love the Central Coast’s laid-back atmosphere, that us locals have so many beaches to choose from, and we also have a great local community.”
Firstly, tell us about your sports performance business and why you launched it?
I formed Chris Heighington Sports Performance (CHSP) in 2013, while I was still playing professional rugby league, helping world-class surfers Matt Wilkinson, Tyler Wright and Caleb Tancred with their strength and conditioning. Since my retirement in 2018 from professional rugby league, I’ve been working with beginners, emerging and established athletes covering a range of sports such as rugby league, surfing, cricket, soccer and skateboarding, as well as running school holiday clinics and academies here on the Central Coast. I am also involved with Terrigal High School’s targeted sports program.
What's a typical day for you on the Coast?
I start my day with a coffee – I am always up early. I train my athletes from 7am. Working locally means I can take my kids to school, which I love. Then I prep for my ABC radio role (NRL game ground announcer) and sort some program preparation for my clients.
Where do you go for your early morning caffeine fix?
Every morning I head to Ocean Haus at Terrigal for a coffee. Ocean Haus has a great range of surf wear and surfboards for the whole family. But it's not just a surf shop for me, it’s a vibe of great coffee and community spirit and support. I will take my kids in for a hot chocolate or an acai bowl too. There's always someone you are running into here!
What's your go-to Central Coast restaurant?
Rhonda's in Terrigal – it’s got amazing food, drinks and venue. This is where my wife and I will dine out when we get a chance. We love the amazing quality of food, drinks, cocktails and the atmosphere. I am a big fan of the pizza too. Rhonda’s also make their own pizza dough, which is delicious.
As a sportsman, what's your go-to outdoor experience?
I love to surf. There's so many great surf breaks around the Coast. I surf most days at Avoca Beach, Wamberal and Shelly Beach. However, all the beaches are my favourite, all the way from Umina to Norah Head, depending on the swell direction and wind.
Where is the first place you would take a friend visiting the Coast?
They’d join me on my morning routine trip to Ocean Haus at Terrigal for a coffee and then on to grab a demo surf board and hit the local waves.
What's your favourite local hideaway most tourists don't know about?
I’d recommend taking a paddleboard out on Terrigal Lagoon. I take my kids out on their canoes here – it’s always a good day with the family in the fresh air.