Man, of Health and Fitness - Story by Tony Cutting
First, I must confess, I have personally known Clay for a good number of years, he is my personal trainer and I was introduced to him by my wife Lisa who was training with a group of ladies each week under the mindful eye of Clay.
These were years before Clay setup the Achievement Room in Waikanae, he used to either come to my place or we would meet at a park somewhere. I liked working with Clay because he is in my age bracket so he takes no excuses (well technically he is one year older, but I suspect his body is ten years younger!). Recently I have started to work with Clay after some major health issues, he helps me keep positive and in my case is very patient as we need to start with very little steps (In fact I know he is a lot more patient than me!)
Clay is thoughtful, considerate but still demanding at the right level and very, very good at what he does.
Usually a shy and humble sort of guy I have convinced Clay to let me tell his story.
The early years
Clay was born in 1962, his mum Ann had a handful with six children to look after and dad Cliff was a farmer. Brothers and Sisters (in order) Dawn, Steve, Joy, Lynne, Clay, Brett.
They grew up in Hicks Bay, then Tokomaru Bay and then Gisborne. Clay started his school life at Hicks bay school but then he says there was just too many to name. Through his early childhood, Clay (and his family) kept travelling south from Gisborne to the Hawkes Bay, then eventually ending up in Lower Hutt where they made home for nearly twelve years.
Here he attended Petone Tech.
“I enjoyed college, even though, I was a shy country boy. Sport, geography History, science, were my favourite subjects, not spelling or maths.”
During his school years Clay enjoyed all sports he particularly enjoyed full contact Karate (Kykushin), Soccer, Athletics, Cricket, softball, he did the most, but he liked all sports.
After secondary school Clay started work for Firth industries, where he dredged stones from the Hutt river, and made aggregate for roads and concrete.
After 5 years, he decided to look at Sydney, Australia, where he had a number of jobs, including building concrete swimming, pools, inserting fibreless swimming pools, and working for a number of builders, doing odd labouring, and landscaping type jobs.
Because he had a good work ethic, and used his initiative, he often was chosen to be the leader of the small work groups he was involved in.
Clay has never been unemployed. He was a postman for seven years in Sydney. He really enjoyed this job, it was well paid, and physical, involving walking up and down hills with a heavy pack. It came with one major benefit, it gave Clay time to study fitness related course’s.
While working in Sydney Clay enrolled with the Fitness Institute of Australia to become a Personal trainer. He passed his qualifications after two years of study. He was trained by a famous Australian trainer/teacher Paul Bateman.
“He was awesome, and loved his work. I found his type of teaching, which was hands on practical work, finding solutions to people’s issues were easy for me to remember, rather than, just sit in a class room and learn from a blackboard”.
After being a postman, Clay became a fulltime Personal Trainer, and has loved his career choice ever since.
He loves his craft and still studies weekly, and attends the NZ fitness conference every year, to keep up with the latest trends in health and fitness.
What does Clay do outside of work?
“I’ve always loved running. Especially through bush tracks, or along the beach. Running relaxes my mind, yet keeps me fit”
Kyokushin (full contact karate) has been a big part of Clay’s life. He was involved in karate for twenty years before coming back to New Zealand. He reaching 3rd Dan black belt, and represented Australia.
“Karate taught me discipline, and the will not to give up, no matter what. I also learnt Courage, Determination, and goal setting techniques, that I still use today.” “I trained hard and became super fit. “
During his time with Kyokushin he met a famous practitioner Shihan James Phillips.
“My teacher, my friend. I feel my training with him separated me form the rest of the personal trainers whom I met. He taught me to take exercise classes, have thirty people in the room, yet still be able to see what each person was doing separately over a short time, and then offer advice to improve on their technique, or will power.”
Outside of his active pursuits Clay enjoys reading, especially articles on ancient history, or new advances in health and fitness.
The Achievement Room
Clay is the director, and owner of The Achievement Room. Which comes with several responsibilities. It includes an administration aspect, looking each day at new memberships, promotions and sale decisions, emails, phone calls etc. As well as what he loves doing helping the people who join the gym.
He likes to encourage the right atmosphere, so people feel comfortable, are happy, and are determined to progress through there exercises. He knows every member by their first name.
“I’m also the main maintenance man, and do cleaning when required, although We do hire a cleaner every day. I’m also there to help my other trainers and stuff” he is quick to point out.
There are a total of seven people working at 'The Achievement Room'
We have a slightly different focus than other gyms, here at The Achievement Room. We realise, for most people, that a gym membership isn’t enough to get results so we have a hands on approach with everyone who joins. Everyone gets a proper personal assessment, not just a gym orientation when they join The Achievement Room, Clay doing the bulk of the assessments. An assessment includes looking at their goals, which can be anything from Rehabilitation, sports conditioning, shaping body’s, weight loss, improving functional movement, improving posture, wellness etc.
Typically, Clay then proceeds buy showing people the right exercises they should be doing, for their specific goals.
"We call this an individual programme. From here I can channel clients in the right direction, such as our 'Eat Clean Train Mean programme' which helps people lose body fat. We have had consistently great results with this. Helping people improve their diets is a big part of assisting people with their goals as well."
"Often people need catch ups sessions shortly after there initial assessments. Assessments is also a time which I can direct people to small group training. All of the above is part of our clients membership. I spend a considerable time, walking the gym floor, helping our clients out."
Clay still has his own personal training clients as well, helping them achieve their personal goals.
“Watching people change shape and become happier is the most satisfying part of my job. I feel very grateful with these rewards.”
He takes classes, mainly HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and cardio box classes.
“Our classes are awesome here, but I also do a lot of work, writing up the programmes. Writing up for personal training and clients, and classes, take up a lot of my time each week.”
Outside of The Achievement Room’s normal activities
“I help out with the Waikanae rugby premier team, helping them with their pre-season fitness.”
“I sponsor the Lions sports awards, and give the winner of the sports grant award twelve month’s membership, and what personal training they need.”
What he loves about his job.
“Helping people to become happier, through fitness and health. I have a wide range of clients, with varying needs.”
He lists examples of people he works with;
• Clients with initial major spinal conditions - helping them lead normal healthy lives.
• Knees, Hip, Back injuries are the most prevalent injuries that people walk in the gym with, that needs attention.
• Helping people train for sporting events.
• Body fat reduction
• Getting stronger, and fitter
• Functional living
These are just some of the goals that Clay attends to.
“Even though I’ve helped people do well on the world sporting stage, watching people walk, run again or lead a normal life, after major spine surgery is even more rewarding.”
“It’s great to have a job, that is really your passion, and that I can invent exercises, or exercise sequences, to suit my clients”
What does the future hold?
“I enjoy working hard at The Achievement Room, helping people.” “I also enjoy developing new ideas and using them in practice.”
“I have a good capacity, for breaking complex issues that my clients have, I still want to learn more, and be even more effective in what I’m doing now. I want to keep learning more with every aspect of health and fitness, this is my passion. I want to keep on inspiring people to make meaningful changes in their life”
“More laughing and being happy with my friends and family.” “Leading the way in exercise and health”
“I’ve been fortunate to have had many great teachers in my life as a trainer. Yet it’s been all my previous clients, with their individual needs, who I’ve helped, who have made me the trainer who I am today.”