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Nicole’s original goal was to study physiotherapy down in Otago. But the karate coach couldn’t see herself sitting in a lecture theatre competing with 300 or 400 hundred other people for a space in first year health science.
“My best friend went down and did first year health science and I remember she called me in tears saying it’s crazy busy, they don’t care about you whether you pass or fail. If you aren’t there they don’t really care.”
She had always loved sports and human movement though so was thrilled to see she could study applied fitness with NMIT straight out of college and remain in Nelson connected to the Kimura Shukokai International Nelson Dojo.
Scroll forward to 2017 and Nicole is now working as a contractor for No Child Left Inside(external link) which operates throughout Nelson and Tasman. NCLI is a community organisation that helps children feel capable and confident to take part in physical activities.
Each week, Nicole visits three schools - one each in Mapua, Upper Moutere and Mahana - equipping new entrants to year eight with fundamental movement skills. Running, skipping, jumping - all the movements that children should know how to do, but sometimes don’t.
“Children just don’t get out as much as kids did a few years ago. I want to ensure that every child that I get to work with goes away and moves on into high school with those fundamental movement skills. Then they can go on to have a lifelong participation in recreation out in society.”
The 22-year-old thoroughly enjoys working with children on an individual level as well as in groups. Not only does Nicole coach karate (she holds a 1st dan black belt) but during her final year, she ran a sport and recreational programme for children with dyspraxia for the Child Development Service at Nelson Hospital.
“I really thrived in that environment and with those children. I really loved making a difference. And now I get to do that everyday with No Child Left Inside. It’s really been the perfect transition for me. I’ve really found my happy place.”
The journey from applied fitness student to regional deliverer of the NCLI programme was a positive experience from start to finish. Initially, Nicole harboured concerns about fitting study in alongside her karate commitments but found the support at NMIT incredible and credits Claire Dallison, Mandy Stephens, Pogo Paterson and Brodie Hewlett for helping her every step of the way.
“I participate in karate at quite a high level so I did have to travel away quite a bit and at one point I went away overseas. All the tutors were really helpful. You don’t miss a lot, they help catch you up. Everyone made it so easy for me to integrate back into my work.”
Nicole completed the Diploma in Applied Fitness initially and then went on to complete the Bachelor of Sport and Recreation. Right from the get go, from year one to final year, students learn everything there is to know about fitness.
The programmes cover personal training, marketing and management, injury management, massage, anatomy, physiology, high performance training, and also how sport affects society. In addition to this, students spend time in professional environments during work placement. Nicole taught physical education at St Joseph’s, completed practical tests and trained other NMIT students at Results Gym for a short spell, and then of course there was Child Development Service in her final year.
Nicole graduated in July 2017 and was accepted as a contractor for NCLI a week later making her one of the youngest deliverers of NCLI for the region. She is also self-employed which at 22 is quite an impressive achievement.
To anyone wishing to study applied fitness at NMIT, Nicole says: “It’s fantastic you know. We can get such a high level degree right here in Nelson. I loved the support that we got from tutors. I also love the fact that when you go into NMIT you have your smaller groups so you really get to know the people and you make lifelong friends. The overall professionalism that I’ve come away with is fantastic. I’ve evolved as a person and I’m really appreciative of it.”