FITNESS coach Nick Maier has used his rollercoaster teenager years as inspiration to set up a unique strength and conditioning venture to help other young people.
Mr Maier’s recent completion of a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics comes a decade after he battled his weight, only to lose 35 kilograms in four months in a whirl of over-training, under-eating, supplements, incorrect advice and pressure to live up to images of unrealistic bodies. He fought depression, orthorexia and anorexia for a year.
“There’s no support or guidance for teenagers who want to make a change and get into fitness or reach the representative level in their chosen sport,” Mr Maier said. “I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through.” The result is The Youth Academy, which began operating from Strength Republic in Hamilton North in October but will move to its own premises in Warners Bay in February.
It offers teenagers aged 13 to 18 of all fitness levels – including talented athletes – an unlimited number of classes each week, which involves working in small groups on individualised programs based on their goals. The first session is free.
Mr Maier, 26, also offers advice about nutrition and creating a positive mindset, as well as financial sponsorship for teens competing at a representative level.
“We don’t focus on weight,” he said. “It’s about how are you feeling? How is your food intake – are you making smarter choices? Are your shirts feeling a little looser? It’s about creating a lifestyle that’s going to better them for the rest of their life.
“We use physicality to show them they can do things they did not think was possible. Being able to see their body change may open their eyes to what else they can do in their lives.”
Mr Maier said he measured progress by increased strength. “We might start with a body weight squat and work up to holding a 16 kilogram weight and then a 24 kilogram weight,” he said. “If someone can do six reps, we’ll aim for 12 reps next time or maybe just one more. That’s progress to me – being a little bit better today than you were yesterday.”