Heart, soul and big weights – up close with trainer Nick Antal

May 09, 2017
Ashley Ann Lawrie


Nick Antal was once like a lot of young men who might fall under the umbrella of “jock.”

He played football, soccer and even reached semi-pro status as a hockey player in a European league. To advance his athletic ability, he hit the gym regularly through his teens. He wanted to be ripped and strong with the physique to compete in fitness competitions and attract some attention from the opposite sex.

Being in shape and working out was just his thing. “I craved it, I loved it, I want to do it everyday,” he said.

But he came to realize there was something else, too.

“I enjoyed helping other people training in the gym get better and get stronger,” he said.

After high school, he took Algonquin College’s Fitness and Health Promotion program and acquired certifications as a personal trainer in the Darby Training System and from the Poliquin Group. More recently, he earned his certifications as a Fascial Stretch Therapist and Holistic Lifestyle Coach.

He first worked as a group trainer with a local circuit training gym, but has been a big part of the Kanata FFF team for about two-and-a-half years.

The 23-year-old has gained a new perspective on fitness since his teens – true health and wellness begins on the inside.

“I help people look better for sure, because who doesn’t want to look good naked? But the most important thing is feeling better, so they can do better in all aspects of their life,” he said.

Call it the spiritual side of fitness, if you will – Nick focuses as much on the healing aspect of fitness for his clients as he does on being that boot camp coach who helps them push their physical limits.

But the greatest challenge he faces is client’s perceptions and expectations around time – the time to get lean, gain muscle mass and undo the damage many people have done to themselves through poor lifestyle habits.

“This is a marathon and not a sprint—it almost always takes longer than people will expect.”

And most of that battle is fought in the kitchen, not the gym.

“Fad diets don’t work,” he said. “Clients often ask what is the best nutrition plan and I always say it’s ‘The one you can consistently do the longest without getting bored with it.’”

Which means what works for one person may not for another and it may take longer to achieve desired results.

As a rule, Nick is a big fan of a concept advocated in many corners of the fitness industry: “If you can’t kill it, pick it, or grow it, don’t eat it.”

In other words, stay away from processed and packaged foods and the “four white devils:” refined flour, sugar, salt and milk.

“It’s not rocket science, but it is mentally hard to overcome addictions to things like sugar,” he said. “It takes time, but the key is consistency – making a habit of it.”

It’s no different than making the commitment it takes to develop any skillset, like becoming a good software programmer, or musician, or communicator, or whatever else you pursue in life or career.

“I want to help as many people as possible, so in return they can help others,” he said. “The world just needs to calm down and take a massive breath – people need to take more time to look within themselves instead of just outward.”

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