As a Calisthenics Coach at Movement Co. I get a lot of questions regarding my background and how I ended up where I am today. I guess in many ways it’s a bit of a bizarre occupation and for most of my life it certainly never crossed my mind that this is what I would be doing with my life . So I thought I would put up a short blog giving a bit more information about myself and how I got to be where I am today.
So lets dispel one thing straight away – I’m not a former Gymnast, some days I wish I was. It would make some of the training so much easier to have the muscle memory and all of the movement patterns ingrained already. However it’s debatable as to whether it would have made me a better coach and who can say whether I would still be passionate about Body-weight training had been.
So I’m 39 years old which as I write it looks damn scary, especially considering that I mentally feel like I’m 25. I’m a father to a 9 year girl (Sienna) and I have a Fiance (Kimmi) both of whom are somewhat bemused by my antics. I’m originally from Auckland, New Zealand and I landed in Perth the 1st of December 1999 and have lived here ever since. I took up Calisthenics training about 4 years ago and I haven’t always been fit. In fact there’s been a few times in my life that I have been overweight.
When I was a youngster at Primary School I was originally doing Gymnastics and Karate at the same time. I enjoyed them both but there came a time when my parents told me that I needed to make a decision upon which out of Gymnastics or Karate I wished to keep doing. At that time of my life I wanted to be like Bruce Lee and so I decided to give Gymnastics away against the advice of my Coach who I guess saw some potential at the time in this little Maori kid.
So I spent about 7 years doing Kempo and by the age of 13 I was a Black Belt. I ended up teaching a lot of the kids and some beginner adults at that age but that wasn’t what I wanted at the time. All I wanted to do was learn, I didn’t realise that Teaching was in it’s own way an opportunity to learn… so I ended up giving Karate away. Probably not my greatest move but I learned a lot about discipline, body awareness, coordination and the value of hard work in that time.
After that I ended up playing weight grade Rugby at High School as I mainly just wanted to play sport with my mates and didn’t really feel like being competitive. Like most teenage boys I was pretty much walking around in a daze, eating everything in sight and trying in my own way to make sense of the world. I also played Touch Rugby during High School (and after) and the rest of the time played sports in and out of school. I also started to do the things that you shouldn’t, like most teenagers do.
After school finished I didn’t continue playing Rugby (until picking it up again much later) but I did keep playing Touch Rugby and occasionally I would go through periods of being obsessed with the gym and weight lifting. However I found that Weightlifting or Bodybuilding style training focused solely on aesthetic’s could never sustain my interest and having a good time generally won out over my more disciplined periods.
I did go back and play Rugby in my late Twenties for Wests Subiaco (Now Wests Scarborough) after a mate of mine Dan told me he was going to go play. I think I played at Wests for about 5 years. Going back and playing Rugby was awesome, though probably not for Kimmi as I tend to have some slightly obsessive traits and having a partner who played, watched and talked about Rugby all the time would have been rather taxing to say the least. Kimmi tells me that she used too enjoy Rugby, unfortunately not so much anymore. Not that I’m any more balanced these days either, I still watch Rugby and talk about it, I now train Calisthenics instead, teach it as my job and try not to talk about it. Try being the operative word here….
Becoming a Father
So at the age of 30 I became a father.
To say our lives changed is an understatement of epic proportions. I ended up stopping playing Rugby after a while as I started to put family first and became more focused on supporting a young family. However I knew that I didn’t want to be one of those dads who couldn’t run around with their children because they were unfit and overweight. I wanted my daughter to be proud of me and have one of those dads who could run around and play as much as they wanted to.
So I took up running after being convinced by a friend and onetime Rugby Coach Kent to do a half marathon. I wasn’t great at it but I enjoyed the challenge and my obsessive nature kicked in so now I spent a lot of my spare time running.
The Start of My Calisthenics Journey
At the age of 35 I found myself sitting at my desk in my well paid Resources job pondering what I could do to keep fit. I was no longer interested in long distance running once I had ticked off the Marathon and had no plans to go back to playing Rugby after my second stint. I knew that I wanted to do something that involved getting stronger but I didn’t want to go lift weights in the gym either. It was at this point in time when I came across a video on YouTube of Hannibal for King and Hit Richards performing extreme Calisthenic Strength exercises in a park. As soon as I watched this video I was hooked!
I went down to the local playground early in the morning before work every day and proceeded to do Pull-ups, Chin-ups, Dips, Push-ups and Squats until I was exhausted. I would spend all of my spare time poring over videos and tutorials and as I became stronger I progressed onto harder variations. Within a year of training by myself I had taught myself to do Muscle-Ups, Flags, Levers and all sorts of cool stuff that I didn’t think possible when I started.
After training by myself for a while I ended up meeting other people interested in Body-weight training in Perth and also the Gold Coast. It was after training with the Gold Coast Bar Alliance (Particularly my good friends Kelly and Mel) while on holiday that I decided to get a group of people together and hold regular training sessions under the name of Barlife. This was at the same time that I had decided to become certified as a Personal Trainer and which is where I met Jacob. So me, Audwin, Lee, Simon, Jacob and some other mates would get together and train at various parks (and a few playgrounds admittedly) it was a lot of fun though not so much when it was raining or 40 degree’s and the bars were hot!
I also did the Progressive Calisthenics Certification with Al and Danny Kavadlo whilst I was doing my PT qualifications. I had watched Al and Danny in numerous YouTube videos, read their books and tried to emulate their feats. So to meet these two extremely engaging and positive brothers in person was a real highlight for me. I also started training at AirYoga with a view to teaching classes there. This came at a tough time for me as I had previously had a nerve impingement injury (the focus of another blog which can be found HERE) and training with Ash, Trev and the AirYoga crew was a godsend. I learned a lot and had fun doing it.
Eventually I moved on from the Resources Industry and became a Full-time PT. I had been doing it part-time for some time whilst working my well paid desk job but I knew that at some stage I would have to bite the bullet. I ended up working for Step Into Life, as a PT at Jetts Dog Swamp doing a short stint with HBF and teaching classes at AirYoga.
Which brings us to Movement Co.
Jacob and I had always talked about opening up a gym that would house different movement disciplines under one roof. Whenever it was wet and we were stuck in a sandy playground with no shelter or there were events at Langley Park and we couldn’t find parking we would talk about it more. But for the most part it really did seem like a pipe-dream at times. However whilst I spent most of my time training, getting to grips with being a PT/Coach and life in General. Jacob spent all of his waking moments pouring his efforts and vision into building me this fantastic gym. Complete with the flag bars I had always wanted. Couldn’t ask for a better mate really 😉