WIND the clock back to football's 1999 under-17 World Cup in New Zealand ... former Hawke's Bay goalkeeper Gary Bridle can with reluctance.
It was the first time since 1982 the average Kiwi sports fan actually talked about the round ball game in regular conversation. For former Taradale High School student Bridle, who spent the final two years of his secondary education at Auckland Grammar School, that tournament was supposed to be a highlight of his sporting life and the launch of a professional career.
That was when Bridle, who was on the subs bench for all three of the New Zealanders games, should have been rewarded for the sacrifices he and parents Gary and Carolyn had made in his quest to make the New Zealand team for that Fifa tournament. One of the sacrifices included ending a promising cricket career to make football the priority.
Bridle was just as talented a wicketkeeper through Hawke's Bay age group cricket teams during the summer as he was a football goalkeeper during the winter.
"I had a couple of terrible years up in Auckland because of the relationships between me and a couple of the coaches. I didn't have the ability to take myself out of that position," Bridle recalled yesterday.
Now 36 and a co-owner and co-founder of The Hive CrossFit Ahuriri with Nick Ashcroft, Bridle is keen to make sure others don't find themselves in the situation he was in.
"I was getting poorly coached and I didn't have the tools to deal with what was happening and defend myself. I want to help people take something seriously but with a healthy sprinkling of humour and fun and always achieving," Bridle said.
"I had put so much pressure on myself to succeed that I lost a sense of perspective and balance which crippled my ability to perform at any level," he recalled.
"This pressure filtered into everything I did, and in turn, removed the lightness and fun from sporting activities. It wasn't until I started attending classes at my first CrossFit affiliate that I began to find myself again. I was fortunate enough to be well guided early on in my CrossFit journey and it eventually became clear to me how much 'success' was intertwined with the ability to be patient and listen. Inevitably these two simple concepts were directly benefiting my health and wellbeing," Bridle said.
"Now, as a coach, I pride myself on finding a balance to communicate clearly and simply.
"While listening and responding to an individual's needs with the same degree of patience that I 've applied to my own learnings. The Hive is a space that nurtures all the positive virtues I have accumulated through my own experiences and provides a safe and supportive environment.
"Have patience when you have to and find courage when you need to."
Bridle pointed out he liked to be in a position where everything is inclusive, all conversation is taken seriously and everyone's opinion is part of the process.
"I want people who walk in the door to feel welcomed. I want people in our group class situations to always be coached and always in contact with someone with an answer."
A former CrossFit competitor, Bridle has given up his own pursuits to focus on those of his clients.
"It's time for everybody else. I was never going to get any better."
Bridle said he has been in situations when a coach has been inconvenienced by taking a class.
"That's an egocentric view. I want the focus to be on our customers."
Former Hastings Boys' High School, Havelock North Intermediate and Havelock North Primary School student Ashcroft and Bridle met in Auckland where Ashcroft was a part owner in a gym Bridle worked out at. Ashcroft, 33, moved back to the Bay last year.
A younger brother of former Hawke's Bay basketball representative and Havelock North premier rugby player Leighton Ashcroft, Ashcroft, still competes in CrossFit and recently completed his third consecutive Judgement Day event in Hastings. The grandson of former Havelock North mayor Bill Ashcroft pointed out The Hive name is a little ode back to his father Hugh in recognition of his beekeeping hobby.
"The Hive represents a very personal connection for me and the values of kindness and respect. It also speaks to a broader ideology of a space where, together, with a common goal, under guidance and support, we each work with our own focus to achieve success for ourselves and in turn our community," Ashcroft said.
"My career in the fitness industry has developed from my passion for helping people. Encouraged by my own personal results since starting CrossFit in 2012, I decided to refocus my career into something that would help people experience the positive changes in the body and mind that I had found. Since then, I had an amazing opportunity to co-own the CrossFit gym that started it all for me allowing me to refine my skills as a coach and personal trainer," Ashcroft explained.
"Seeing clients set themselves a new challenge and being able to guide them, offer support and see them find support from within our community makes every day an exciting and rewarding one," Ashcroft said.
"As a CrossFit kids coach I love that I get to be a part of setting up our future generation with tools to succeed wherever their lives take them; building confidence in themselves, teaching them skills through movement, and making exercise fun and rewarding.
"The Hive is much more than just the 'workout'. It's about setting you up to succeed; mentally and physically so you are ready for life's next challenge. It is fun, engaging and rewarding, but for me, it's the level of genuine care at The Hive that really makes the difference," Ashcroft added.