When top New Zealand strength and conditioning coach Nic Gill first walked through the doors of Tauranga's high-performance sports centre, he was wowed.
"I thought 'I want to be here'." And so, it has come to pass. Dr Gill, who takes the All Blacks — amongst others — through their strength and conditioning paces, is now based at the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance at Mt Maunganui.
"When I first walked through those doors I realised there were so many people here I knew or had rubbed shoulders with — top sports people, former PhD students, etc. I thought wow, what an amazing, energised atmosphere. It's really inspiring," Nic says.
Nic, his wife Melissa, and their two daughters Olyvia and Grayce, have lived in the BOP for the past eight years. The district recently became his working base. Becoming a University of Waikato Associate Professor in human performance seemed like an amazing opportunity.
He's away overseas about 160 days a year with the All Blacks, but, when back in New Zealand, his office is within the hallowed halls of the Adams Centre.
"The university wants to establish this place as a world-class sports science and human performance centre. So, a big part of my job is working with my colleagues here to achieve that. We have experts in physiology, biomechanics, strength and conditioning with amazing international experience."
He says the Adams Centre is attracting not only top athletes, but also pulling in top academic talent — attracting people from outside Tauranga and overseas, with 20 postgraduate students sinking their teeth into exciting ground-breaking research in health and performance, covering things like injury prevention, heat acclimation, enhanced power production, and recovery.
Academia within a sporting context is exactly where Nic sits. He studied physical education at Otago, followed by a PhD in human performance in Australia and then took on research and teaching duties in physiology at Hamilton's Wintec before eight years as a research fellow at AUT University.
Time spent at the Adams Centre currently involves facilitating and driving research projects to help community groups, businesses, schools and sports people improve health and wellbeing. And, he's fully immersed in assisting sports men and women to perform better on the global stage.
In fact, he is one of a group recently funded by High Performance Sport NZ to work with the sevens team to prepare for the heat expected at the Tokyo Olympics.
Nic says the benefits of working in this "exciting and inspirational environment" are many.
The Adams Centre includes a sport science laboratory kitted with 3-D motion capture, metabolic carts and NZ's first environmental chamber (heat and altitude). He says the facility is one thing, but the people are the key to why he wants to work there.
"The staff we have here are world-class experts that have come from far and wide. They make it really special. It really is a one-stop shop of world class research, quality coaching, physiotherapy, and nutrition, and top athletes. There are lots of excellent people rubbing shoulders helping each other be better and the athletes benefit from that collaboration. It will give them every edge they need to perform."
World-class athletes, representing various sports, training together in the shared location offers growth and learning