Gold Coast personal trainer Nardia Norman

If you’ve come across Nardia Norman at Elevation Fitness over the past few months, you’ll probably know she’s a friendly face with a fierce passion for helping members to achieve sustainable results.

What you may not know is that Nardia is an award-winning personal trainer with 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry — not only as a trainer, but also as a mentor and educator to other trainers via her programs and presenting.

Nardia holds the prestigious honour of being named an Australian Fitness Industry Legend and was the Australian Personal Trainer of the Year in 2014.

When Elevation owner Ali Davidson heard that Nardia was living on the Gold Coast, she reached out and invited Nardia to join the Centre’s team of top trainers.

“We had moved from Sydney and needed to meet people, so it was the perfect opportunity,” says Nardia, who is originally from New Zealand.

“I like Ali’s training philosophies, the club has a really nice feel to it and I really like the people.”


Early birds get the workout

Nardia leads the morning Elevate classes (4.45am, 5.30am, 9am) and has worked with the training team to design a program that provides members with an effective and sustainable workout.

“I’ve seen it happen in a lot of gyms where people come in for group training and just get smashed,” says Nardia.

“That increases the risk for injury and it doesn’t mean you’re going to achieve your goals.”

Nardia applies what she calls ‘smart training’ strategies to every session and concentrates on movement rather than muscle groups.

“If a member attends the Elevate class 3 to 4 times a week, they will achieve great overall conditioning including mobility, strength and fitness,” says Nardia.

“As a trainer my superpower is being able to give everyone – regardless of your level of ability – the workout that hits your sweet spot.

“It’s all about creating the environment that makes people feel OK to push as hard or as little as they want.”


Falling for fitness

This year Nardia celebrates 20 years in the fitness industry, having “fallen into” personal training during her time as an elite hockey player in New Zealand.

“My intention was only ever to do this PT thing until I got a ‘proper job’,” she says. “It turns out this is the proper job!”

Nardia’s career has evolved a lot over that time — her passion for education led her to create mentor programs for other trainers — particularly for women training women — and to share her knowledge as a presenter at fitness conferences worldwide.

In 2010 Nardia was seconded by The Biggest Loser television series to train their heaviest contestant, popularly known as ‘Big Kev’. That experience led her to write a book, Body IQ: The Intelligent Approach to Fat Loss and Healthier, Happier Living.

“The sole purpose of that book was to make basic information accessible to those who needed it,” she says.

“It’s all about re-education around nutrition and movement, and learning how to accept your body.”

“No matter where I go in the fitness industry, it’s always important to me to stay relevant at the grassroots level.”


Nardia’s top 3 tips for sustainable results 


  • Sleep ~ helps to regulate our appetite hormones. Science shows that if you sleep for more than 10 hours per night or less than six, you’re more likely to put on weight because it changes the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It’s also the time where your body recharges physically and emotionally.
  • Eat Enough ~  This is huge, especially for women who tend not to eat enough to fuel their body while training.
  • Recovery ~ Results don’t happen in the gym, results happen in the space between sessions. To get results you must recover properly with the right nutrition, rest and with things like foam rolling, stretching, massage, yoga and meditation. If you train hard, you need to recover just as hard.


Elevate classes run five days each week and are available to all Elevation Fitness members. To book your free trial class, contact Ali on 0422 205 752 or book online here.

Gold Coast personal trainer Dan Carruthers leads group training classes at Elevation Fitness Burleigh Heads gym.

Group classes are super popular at Elevation Fitness and there are good reasons why members keep coming back for more…


Varied and challenging?  Tick.

Accountability and support?  Tick.

Amazing results?  Tick.

Fun and friendly?  Tick

World-class trainer… Wait, what?


Former ironman Dan Carruthers coached professional and world-class athletes before qualifying as a personal trainer in 2009.

Dan brings all of his knowledge and experience to Elevation, where he leads the signature class, Elevate — a powerful 45-minute group session available to all members across several time slots, Monday to Friday.

Born and bred on the Gold Coast, Dan’s love of sport and training were passed down from his dad Drew, who was a professional triathlete.

But it was the challenges posed by Surf Life Saving that excited Dan the most, namely the variable nature of the ocean and the fierce competition — such as his rival and mate, world champion Caine Eckstein.

“You have to be so fit, but you’re also solving problems at the same time,” says Dan.

“My big goal was to win a World Title and be the best in the world at something.”

Dan ticked that box at age 24 when he was named the 2008 World Board Paddle Champion. The following year he took up the head coaching position at Kurrawa and North Burleigh Surf Clubs, training the likes of Hayley Bateup and Ky Hurst.


Making every minute count


Dan draws on that wealth of experience for each Elevate class, combining stretches, mobility, cardio and strength to get you maximum results in minimum time.

“I really like to maximise the time that we have by giving a high intensity training session that reduces any risk of injury,” says Dan.

And you don’t have to be a world champ to take part — Elevate is suitable for anyone wanting to build fitness and strength (without taking yourself too seriously!).

“Everyone differs in terms of ability and goals, but they all train hard at their own level and we always have some fun along the way,” says Dan.

“There’s no macho behaviour or bravado at Elevation; it’s much more of a positive, community vibe where everyone supports each other.”


Dan’s top training tips 


Staying energized and motivated to train isn’t easy, says Dan, who admits it can be a complex process to find out what works for each individual — and maintain it.

Here are 5 tips that work for Dan:


  1. Start your day early. Get your body moving first thing to get the most out your day, mentally and physically.
  2. Eat more veggies, especially greens (yes, your mum was right). Dan ups his daily dose inside a green smoothie.
  3. Do the work. Dan trains every day to reach his goals — like attempting the World Record for the most pull-ups in one hour!   
  4. Set goals and challenge yourself. Elevation’s 6 Week Challenge (next starting April 29) gives some members the motivation and accountability they need to train consistently and get great results.
  5. Maximise your training time. Don’t train for longer than an hour and plan your session for maximum benefit.


Keen to try a free Elevate class with Dan? You can check the timetable here and book your free session by calling 0422 205 752 or email  


Dean Wildbore

When you show up for a session with fitness mentor Dean Wildbore, his friendly face reveals nothing of what’s really going on.

In those first few minutes Dean is quietly weighing up everything from the energy you’re giving off, to the way you move, what you’re saying (or not saying), and your plans for the day.

“The session I had planned for you might change the minute you walk through the door, depending on how you’re feeling and what you’ve got on that day,” says Dean.

“Connection is everything, really, and the relationships I build with my clients enables me to help them more by tailoring each session to suit their needs on any given day.

“There’s no point flogging you in the morning when you need the energy to be present for an important meeting that afternoon.”


Performance and Play 


This personalised approach has made Dean a favourite amongst high performing professionals at Elevation Fitness in Burleigh Heads.

“My goal is always to send someone out of a session feeling better than when you came in. It’s all about setting you up for the day ahead.”

And while performance is important, so is play says Dean, who prefers a balanced approach by building health and fitness into your lifestyle.

“My clients tend to be lifestyle people — they don’t want to be told what to eat and when to eat,” he says.

“Fitness is a part of their life, but it doesn’t take over their life. Keeping that balance is really key for my clients.”

Dean offers 1:1 sessions and trains small, exclusive groups of like-minded people. He’s also preparing to launch a hybrid program that combines in-person sessions with online resources and 24-7 support.


Burleigh Heads personal trainer Dean Wildbore


More than just muscles


While many people first come to Dean looking to lose weight or to improve strength and fitness, they come to love the by-products of their sessions. 

“Accountability helps people to create consistency to achieve their goals,” says Dean.

“Beyond that, training helps professional people to manage stress, feel more confidence in their clothes, have more energy to perform at that high level and to be more present, at work and at home.”

Dean invests time in getting to know his clients in and out of the gym, and says that level of connection adds to the sense of community that Elevation is so well-known for.

“Having a person outside of your circle that you can talk things over with is pretty freeing for people,” says Dean.

“I’m not a life coach and I don’t always have the answers, but I can listen.

“The atmosphere inside the gym and the on-site cafe lends itself well to everyone feeling part of something pretty special.”


Dean Wildbore personal trainer Gold Coast


To book a session with Dean or any of our trainers, email or call us on 0422 205 752.



Brett Robinson Performance Coach

The start of a new year is a time when many of us are working to establish new habits to improve our health and fitness.

You might have started a new training regime, be overhauling your diet or committing to a daily meditation practice.

But according to Brett Robinson, a performance coach at Elevation, it’s the small daily choices that you make across the board that have the biggest impact — not just on your health and fitness, but on every aspect of your life.

“I say to people that your life is your performance,” says Brett.

“Performance is made up of a lot of different elements. I love to look at those basics and ask, how can you do that better?

“How can you eat better? Sleep better? Breathe better? Move better?”

“You’re already making the choices, but what marginal gains can be made on those? It’s the one percent improvements that add up to shift the bigger picture.”


The backstory on Brett


Since joining Elevation Fitness in May last year, Brett — or Robbo as he’s known! — has cemented himself as a major asset to the training team, with his depth of experience and unlimited enthusiasm.

Brett is a former elite sprinter at the Australian Institute of Sport and has gone on to work with top athletes and sporting teams all over the world as both a soft tissue therapist and high performance coach.

He’s unlikely to tell you himself (shhhhh!) but Brett was named Australian Para Coach of the Year for Track and Field in 2017. He also has his own podcast – Your Life of Impact – offers well-being programs and is expecting his first child with financee Mari later this year.

Having competed at an elite level and coached others to do the same, Brett understands first-hand the impact that simple daily choices have on performance.

“Coming from high performance sport and as coach for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, every little element of their life needs to be dialled in because one split second can mean the difference between a gold and silver medal,” says Brett.

“The best athletes in the world are the ones who consistently do the simple things really well.”


Who does a performance coach help?


Brett applies that same principle to training his one-on-one Elevation clients, who range from those wanting to lose weight, get strong, excel at their chosen sport, prepare for an endurance event or recover from an injury.

“As soon as people experience performance coaching, they love it,” he says.

“It’s not a linear approach. It’s so widespread and focused on getting you better as a person. That goes well beyond getting stronger or losing weight.”

A typical session with a performance coach can cover areas such as movement, mobility, mindset, breathing, sleep, nutrition and even exposure to sunlight.

Part of Brett’s philosophy is to empower you to coach yourself by teaching you tools and strategies to create helpful habits that stick outside of the gym.

“Humans are creatures of habit and environment,” says Brett.

“That’s what I love about Elevation — it’s a place where people can be in an environment that’s helping them to achieve their goals. You might only be here for an hour a day, but it can kickstart your day really well or finish it off in an amazing way.

“If you just remember what it means to be human, you don’t have to try and hack the system. There aren’t massive changes you need to make. Once you understand that there are small things you can do every day to fuel what it means to be human, your life performance will change for the better pretty quickly.”


Brett’s top 6 tips for living your best life


  • Connect with your WHY  Set goals based on your core values and take time to understand WHY these are important.
  • Practice mindful breathing  Breathing lowers stress and keeps your mind from focusing on negative or unhelpful thoughts.
  • Be grateful and kind Consciously expressing gratitude releases feel-good hormones and keeps you in a positive state of mind.
  • Movement as medicine  Move your body in different ways, inside and out in nature, to enjoy the biggest benefits.
  • Prepare for solid sleep  Morning sun, breathing, mindset, healthy food, and limited light/fluids at night all aid super sleep.
  • Think better  Thoughts, feelings and behaviour are all linked. Thinking in a positive space way will lead to helpful choices.

To book a session with Brett or any of our trainers, email or call us on 0422 205 752.


Elevation Fitness member Anthony Karos

Name Anthony Karos Age 46  Lives Currumbin Valley 


A keen surfer with an adventurous spirit, long-term Elevation member Anthony Karos has adapted his training to recover a knee reconstruction in record time. He’s also embraced our yoga and pilates classes to improve mobility, core strength and restoration.

Janelle Estreich caught up with Anthony to find out how he is overcoming injuries and what motivates him to keep up his training.


What are you focusing on with your training?

I’m the ‘Rehab King’! I originally started at Elevation in January 2017 after dislocating a toe. I had a 60 km trek that I had to get right for and hadn’t done anything like that before. I was using the Altitude Rooms and mountain climber equipment to help prepare for the trek.


What does your training look like on a usual week?

I normally get to two yoga classes and a pilates class. I’d never done yoga or pilates before but now Tuesday nights is ‘Broga’ — me and about five other mates have really taken to the yin yoga. We’re smashing the women at the moment in the numbers! We come out all floppy and sleepy so that helps with the restoration side of things that Ali encourages us to bring to our training.

I’ve been to a few other group classes with my wife and kids in the past. Because I’ve come off a knee reconstruction and some ankle issues, I use the bikes in the Altitude Room because it’s low impact but I still get the benefits.


It sounds as though you’re either accident prone or very unlucky — what’s the story?!

I injured my ankle in Bali surfing. My knee injury came about partly through the trekking but the dislocation happened while playing beach cricket with my 9-year-old daughter. Before that, my toe dislocation happened playing beach rugby with some Fijians. I have a tendency to go a bit too hard, too often and come away with injuries! I never injured myself from 0-40 years of age, but from 40-46 I’ve caught up pretty quickly.


Has that influenced the way you train now?

From a training perspective, I’m really wanting to do stuff that sets me up for the next 10, 20, 30 years. The focus is more on mobility and strength to keep joints and muscles working well, not so much for walking down the beach with the guns out! I love surfing so anything that can help me with that and the rehab is important for me.


How have you utilised the Centre to assist your recovery?

The beauty of the Altitude Rooms is that you can continue with your training, modifying what you’re doing, but really keep that cardio side up without putting stress on your joints or on an injury. After my knee reconstruction I was keeping up with 20-year-old footballers in terms of my rehab because I was going every day into the Altitude Rooms to do my physio, stretching and strength in there, as well as the cardio.

Within four months of having a knee reconstruction, I was back surfing. There’s no way I could have done that without the Altitude Rooms and the kind of gym that Elevation is where they encourage you to take that approach.


What’s the community side been like in your experience?

I hadn’t been to a gym in 20+ years, so I’ve found it be an amazing bunch of people. The reasons people come to Elevation seems to vary significantly, but there’s a core culture where people will say hello to you and are generally warm and engaging.

I love it when people are passionate about what they do. Ali and Cal have certainly got that passion and are seeing the benefits for their members and in terms of the kind of culture they’re creating.


Anthony Karos and family


How do you refuel after a workout?

My wife is a food Nazi so that certainly helps me! I eat at the Elevation cafe quite a bit, so I can have a shower and go straight to work from the gym after a nice, nutritional breakfast.


When you’re not at the gym, where would we find you?

In the water, definitely. I love surfing, on all kinds of boards — the 4’6″ mini surfboards through to 9’8″ 1960s log. I get out with my three daughters and my wife who is learning to surf. When we’re not doing that, we enjoy travelling and camping in our caravan.


Our 7-Day Free trial is a great way to get a feel for Elevation. Pop in for a chat and see the Centre at Shop 2/151 West Burleigh Road, Burleigh Heads, get in touch via 0422205752 or email

Burleigh Heads gym lovers Wayne and Maria Oksanen

Name Maria Oksanen Age 50  Lives Burleigh Heads

Fitness is a family-affair for Maria and husband Wayne, who are Elevation regulars along with their two adult children, Jayde and Jake. The whole family makes the most of every aspect that the Centre has to offer — be it a session in the gym, training in the Altitude Rooms, classes, workshops and catching up with friends. We love their commitment to fitness and their passion for adventure, which this year saw Maria celebrate her 50th birthday on a trek to Everest Base Camp.  

Janelle Estreich caught up with Maria to find out how Elevation helped her to prepare for that challenging adventure.


How long have you been training at Elevation?

My husband Wayne and I have been members since Elevation Fitness opened. My daughter Jayde came across and then my son Jake joined a few months ago, so they both love it too. Sometimes my husband and I will train together, sometimes Wayne and Jake will train together and other times it’s Jayde and I. It’s a great way to stay in touch when everyone is so busy with work and in their own lives.

Are you training for anything in particular?  

We trained really hard in the lead up to my 50th birthday in March, when Wayne and I climbed Everest Base Camp with our best friends of 30 years. It’s always been a challenge that I’ve wanted to take on — it’s mental as much physical and you take on all of the elements.

We got to Base Camp the day after my 50th birthday. At the top it’s 50% of what the oxygen normally is, it’s freezing cold and the winds are howling. You’re hiking for 10 hours a day and it took us seven days. It’s intense!

How did your training prepare you for that experience?

I train at Elevation up to five times per week and do up to five classes a week. If I wasn’t doing a class, I would train in the Altitude Rooms. Having the Altitude Rooms was amazing to train for Everest — it reduces the oxygen so that you get used to it. We’d also then do hikes on the weekends.

I love Elevation. It’s not just the gym, it’s the community. I’ve made some great friends there. Ali and Cal have created this really special community. It’s not just about the gym — there’s the cafe on site and they run different courses as well which makes it like a hub. Their trainers are exceptional and we’ve learnt so much about fitness and our bodies, especially around ageing gracefully and the importance of mobility.

I’ve been going to gyms for 20 years on the Gold Coast and it’s way above any other.

Has fitness always been a part of your life? 

Always. Even when I had young kids at home and I was doing Oz Aerobics on the TV. My whole family is really active — we’re really into the snow sports and we love the ocean for surfing and paddling. A little bit competitive, the Oksanen’s are!

My husband and I are adventurers. For us to go on a holiday, we don’t go and sit on a beach. We’ve done Machu Picchu, Peru and Wayne heli-snowboards. People say, Do you want to go on a cruise?… yeah, no!

How do you recover and refuel after a workout?

I spend a lot of time at P3 Sports and Recovery in their pools. We’re big believers in stretching and mobilisation. Brett Robbo — a trainer at Elevation — teaches the floss bands, so we do a lot of that. Nutrition-wise, I’ll usually have a berry smoothie.

When you’re not at Elevation, where would we find you?  

At the beach with my beautiful French Bulldog. People say we’re the ultimate Gold Coast family and we really are. Every time we fly back from overseas, the first place I want to go is the beach. My tracker goes off if I leave my postcode!

As our member of the month, Maria is gifted a Styku Body Composition Scan at Elevation Fitness, a $25 gift voucher from Espresso 151 and a 1 hour float with 30 minute sauna at Freedom Float Centre. Enjoy! 

Triathlete Jack Murphy

Name Jack Murphy Age 26 Works Team Leader, Tribes Adventure Group; Resident Master, The Southport School Lives Southport

Jack’s commitment to training and his positive attitude to life have made a big impression on the Elevation team. Having faced some major challenges in his personal life, Jack’s focus on nutrition, training and community have been key in his recovery. We love to see him upping his triathlon game in the Altitude Rooms and hope to see those efforts pay off at his next big event in December.

Janelle Estreich caught up with Jack who shared the experiences and events that led him to leave Melbourne and pursue his triathlon goals on the Gold Coast.

How did you get into triathlon?

At age 20 I was 185kg. I was already active in Surf LifeSaving in Victoria so my issue was 100% diet. One day I just decided to flick a switch and get healthy.

Originally I wanted to lose weight to see what I could do with my swimming. Even at 160kg I qualified for the state championships in Victoria for the 50m and 100m butterfly. I then started to do a bit of running, for fun and fitness. My first ever fitness goal was to be able to run 3.5km.

As the fitness came along, I’m a pretty competitive person so it wasn’t just about how much weight I could lose, it was also how fast I could swim and how far I could run. I then did my first triathlon and came second in my category.  Four years later I did my first ironman.

What are you training for right now?

I’m training for Ironman Western Australia on December 2. I recently represented Australia for my age group at the ITU World Championships on the Gold Coast in September.

Having just finished a triathlon for the Olympic distance, it’s been a bit tricky to alter my training quickly to get more volume in. I’m training around 20-25 hours a week, doing a lot more long runs and rides. I’m using the Altitude Rooms at Elevation for some interval sessions and already I’m noticing an increased ability to breathe at a higher threshold level.

What attracted you to Elevation?  

I joined Elevation to get access to the Altitude Rooms — being a triathlete, I’m interested in finding any advantage I can! I also wanted to train with like-minded people. I’ve done a few of the group classes for interest and a bit of cross-training. Everyone has been lovely and I love the way the gym is set up. Rather than being a big gym, it’s more of a community environment. I’ve used a lot of gyms and used to run gyms, and it’s by far the nicest gym I’ve ever used.

So you’re from Melbourne, what prompted the move north? 

I’d had a pretty rough year with both of my parents having passed away. My dad had a fall down the stairs and hit his head. He had a bleed on the brain and never woke up. Two months later, Mum passed away from breast cancer.

I was partly running away from what happened in Melbourne and also wanting a fresh start. At the time I was really getting into triathlons and the environment on the Gold Coast for training is ideal. It’s so much better waking up here at 4.30am where it’s already warm, rather than spending an hour just waiting for the car to thaw out like you would in Melbourne!

How have you settled in on the Gold Coast?

I’ve been really lucky to meet some quality people up here, especially during those first few weeks at uni. I was still going through that grieving process so they were there for me, even though they weren’t there when my parents passed away.

I’m working at The Southport School as a Resident Master, which involves assisting the students in the boarding house while they’re away from home. I also mentor kids with mental and physical disability through a group called Tribes Adventure Group. We do one-on-one mentoring with kids and the occasional weekend camp to get them together outdoors. I love it, even the hard days are still really good.

I’ve studied Exercise Science and I’d like to go on to study a Masters of Teaching to work in a secondary school, teaching HPE and Psychology. For me, I think it’s really important for kids to understand the basics of how their body works – whether it’s the psychological side and mental illness or how get the best performance from your body. You’ve only got one body, so you may as well look after it and start as soon as you can.

When you’re not training or at work, where would we find you?  

Probably at the beach when the weather’s not so terrible! I’ve done a lot of indoor training lately due to the rain. The ability to watch Netflix for 3 hours while training on the bike is fantastic!

As our Member of the Month, Jack scores a Styku Body Composition Scan at Elevation Fitness, a $25 gift voucher from Espresso 151 and a 1 hour float with 30 minute sauna at Freedom Float Centre. Enjoy! 

Angie Montey and friends

Name Angie Money  Works Owner, Calmer Therapies, Surfers Paradise  Age 45  Lives Southport

Angie is a regular at our 5.15am classes. She’s an amazing mum of three girls and a hard-working business owner. Angie shows up with a smile on her face, puts in 100% during her workout and enjoys a Campos coffee at Espresso 151 with her besties afterwards. We are so inspired by Angie’s positive attitude and her commitment, travelling from Southport for her early morning workouts. Amazing effort Angie!

Janelle Estreich caught up with Angie to find out what keeps her motivated and discovers that a major life change has given her a new lease on life.

How long have you been training at Elevation?

I’m a foundation member! There’s a little possie that goes there – myself, Megan, Ross and Renae. We do the group classes with Dan Carruthers. His love and passion for health and fitness is outstanding. And now that Jaime has come on board we’ve been to a few of her sessions too. All of the trainers are very different which changes things up a bit and is so great for the body.

I’ve been going 3-4 times a week. We usually go to the 5.15am Elevate class on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Lately I’ve been upping the anti by doing Shred class on a Tuesday 5.15am as well because that’s got the weights.



I travel from Southport to train at Elevation. I was living with my family in Mermaid Beach but unfortunately separated from my husband which prompted the move to Southport. It’s about a 20-minute drive but I use that time to oil pull. It’s been the best thing for my teeth!

I set two alarms — one for 4.30am (that’s my warning bell), I’m out of bed at 4.40am and on the road at 4.50am. It gives me that time to get my brain sorted and I like the quiet – it’s like a driving meditation.


That’s true dedication! What motivates you to maintain that?

It’s mental health. There’s been a massive readjustment to my life and I’ve had to start from scratch again. It gives me that ritual and keeps me disciplined. I love the accountability and the trainers. The Altitude Room is another reason why I love Elevation — it does up the ante with my exercise routine.

Al and Cal are just such beautiful people. They bring that energy to the gym. And bringing Jaime and Brendon on board, the sense of community there is really growing. It gives us all a community to be a part of. It’s such a blessing to find a place with such a community feel to it, especially a gym.

It’s a pleasure to wake up so early and get there. It has just become the ultimate start to my day. I feel like I’ve done something amazing before I go off to work and run a business. It sets my attitude to start the day off really well.


You must be feeling pumped when you get to work! What do you do? 

I’m a massage therapist and dermal specialist at Calmer Therapies Day Spa in Surfers Paradise. When I acquired my business I was so emotionally unprepared due to the breakdown of my family, but the owner at the time suggested it would keep me focussed. I thought, ‘You know what, I’ve got nothing to lose.’

I’ve learnt so much in terms of running a business but it’s taught me a lot about myself as well. It’s really been a personal growth journey. It’s made me realise that you can’t limit yourself to what you think you can and can’t do. As much as it’s hard work, it’s made me the person that I’ve become today.


So you run your own business and you’ve got three children, how do you fit those workouts into your week?

It’s all about time management and setting clear boundaries. I say to my girls that the gym is ‘me time’. If I get me time then I can give you the best of myself — and they all get it. If anything I think they’re inspired by seeing me with this routine and I stick to it. I don’t have excuses… 3 to 4 times a week I roll out of bed, I put my shoes on and I just go. When I come back feeling mentally prepared for the day, my kids get the best of me.


How do you like to refuel after a workout? 

I always have a black coffee at Espresso 151 after a workout. My first meal of the day is high protein, so like an omelette or a protein smoothie. Then I throw in salads for lunch and dinner, I also love my quinoa — all very clean eating.

On the days that I don’t exercise I love intermittent fasting. It works for my body in that I feel a bit lighter and more energetic. I also have more clarity, and with that comes more focus. I find that may day is super sharp.

I have a background in personal training and a nutritional qualification, so health and nutrition has always been an important part of my life. When you do look after your body – not just from a physical point of view, but also inside – it gives you that stamina to just do it!


When you’re not at the gym or at work, what brings joy into your life? 

If I’m not with my kids, I love doing long beach walks. My ‘partner in crime’ is a surfer so we both love to be at the beach. That’s the place that puts everything into perspective for me. I also love long bike rides while listening to some podcasts.

My dad has gone into high care with dementia so at the moment I spend as much time as I can with him as well. He still knows who I am so I feel I need to go and let him know I’m there. I could be doing so many other things but I’m proud that I’ve got this opportunity to have as much time as I can.

I’m at the best time of my life! At 45 I feel like I’ve got a new start to just do what I want in life. I’m quite grateful and feel blessed to know that what I had wasn’t working for me and I’ve put myself in a position where I can really bring into my life what is working for me. It’s all heart-centred these days.


Keen to try one of our classes? Pop into Elevation Fitness at Shop 2/151 West Burleigh Road, Burleigh Heads, call 0422205752 or email


Nick Ray, Elevation member of the month, August 2018

Name Nick Ray  Works Owner, Onesector Construction  Age 37 (“And proud of it!”)  Lives Mermaid Beach


Nick joined Elevation when we first opened more than year ago and has fast become one of our favourite faces around the gym each week. His commitment to training to achieve some major goals is inspiring to see, as are his efforts to raise funds for his charity of choice. We can’t wait to see Nick’s hard work pay off when he next takes on the Bass Strait (for the second time!). Such a mammoth achievement from one of our most humble members.

Janelle Estreich caught up with Nick to get the backstory on his training efforts…

How did you come to be training at Elevation?

A friend told me about their Altitude Training Rooms, which interested me. I tried it out and liked it, but once you’re in there you kind of become part of the family.

Ali and Cal know what you’re doing, they know what you’re training for and everyone says ‘hi’ to each other. It’s not like some of the gyms around where you’re surrounded by “roid boys”! Everyone is so friendly, which made all the difference for me.

How often do you train and what do your sessions involve?

Nick Ray loves the Altitude Training rooms at Gold Coast gym Elevation Fitness.My training fluctuates, but at the moment I’m training to paddle across Bass Strait at the end of the year so I’m training six days each week.

I’m building up my endurance by doing interval training. I’ll do an hour on the treadmill and every two minutes I’ll jump off and do 10 sets of push-ups or pull-ups.

Every second day I do strength training, using the weights to build up my shoulder muscles so they don’t give up halfway across!

I get in the Altitude Rooms and work on my cardio in there. I get on the rowing machine or the treadmill for half an hour at a time. I struggle with breathing so training in the Altitude Rooms puts your lungs under a bit more pressure. I find if I train in there a couple of times a week and then do, say, a 10km run outside on a Saturday, I’m leaps and bounds ahead.

Tell us more about this Bass Strait mission…

This is a second attempt — a friend and I tried to paddle across back in March and got stuck on an island halfway, due to weather. Now I’m back on my feet and going back for a solo attempt early next year, weather-depending.

I’m hoping to be the first person to make it across Bass Strait on a stand-up paddle board.

It’s 300kms and there are islands in between, so you’re paddling for up to 8 hours each day and then stopping overnight on an island. A safety boat drops gear on the island and the support crew will pack it up the next day then catch up to me and drive alongside to make sure nothing goes wrong.

I’m training for it to be a 7-day crossing, which allows for a bit of weather. Bass Strait is very unpredictable so you can end up sitting on an island for 10 days, which is what happened last time. We ended up running out of boat hire, food and water. I’m just hoping to get the weather forecast better this time!

I need to get back there – I can’t move on until I do.

That’s one heck of a challenge, what’s your motivation?

I have a construction company called Onesector Construction and was looking for a charity as a way to give back to the community. I was introduced to Men of Business on the Gold Coast. They run a program to help out youth who are not fitting in with the traditional school system.

I found it fairly relatable because I was a bit of a delinquent. I dropped out of school in Grade 10 and really didn’t respond to traditional learning. I could have gone down the wrong road pretty easily.

It’s great to see these kids who’ve been in a bit of trouble have access to mentors and training that gives them options. It’s not hard to see that it’s a good thing these guys are doing.

I started doing these paddles to raise money for them. I did the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race in Hawaii last year. We (Dan Carruthers and I) raised $25,000. The second one was the first Bass Strait crossing in March this year, when we raised $40,000. I’ve since been added to the (Men of Business) board and we’re about to release plans to build a school on the Gold Coast that’s designed for these disengaged youth.

There’s a luncheon coming up on September 7 which will help raise funds but the paddles that I do are really important for our fundraising as well. It’s a win-win because it’s something that I really want to do myself, but at the same time we will raise good money and get us a step closer to building that school. We’re aiming to raise $60,000 from this next paddle.

How has training at Elevation helped to achieve your goal?

I’ve been to four big name gyms on the Coast and I’ve never experienced anything like Elevation. It really is like a family in there. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone feels welcome. Especially for paddlers and surfers, it’s really well set up.

There are so many different people in there from all walks of life, and Ali and Cal manage to connect everyone up. It’s like networking without trying!

What’s your favourite post-workout food?

Religiously, I head straight to Espresso 151 (Elevation’s in-house cafe) and get the smashed avo on toast with two poached eggs and the Post-Workout Smoothie.

When you’re not at the gym, where might we find you?

You’d definitely catch me in Tallebudgera Creek, paddling up and down on my SUP, or surfing out the front of my place at Mermaid Beach.


  1.  To purchase a ticket for the September 7 luncheon (Nick is guest speaker), make a tax-deductible donation or find out more about sponsorship, contact Nick at with ‘Bass Strait’ in the subject line.
  2. To take a tour of the Altitude Training Rooms, you can visit Elevation Fitness at Shop 2/151 West Burleigh Road, Burleigh Heads. For membership options, call 0422205752 or email


Most of our lives, as women, are spent comparing ourselves to others.  Those we see on tv, our friends, family, and co-workers are all used to guide us toward deciding what is good and beautiful.

About the time we begin to accept the way we look, the way we feel, and decide to stop comparing ourselves to others our bodies begin to take a turn for the worse.  The weight begins to build again and we don’t feel as good about ourselves.

This is because perimenopause has taken hold with its hot flushes, headaches, and weight gain.  You are not alone – this is a very common occurrence that many women experience.

Although it’s common, it is not mandatory.

Keeping the 7 hormones that most affect weight loss during menopause balanced will help you avoid those unwanted symptoms.


Estrogen & Progesterone

Known as the two primary hormones in women, estrogen, and progesterone work together to keep the female reproductive system function properly.  While estrogen is the hormone that controls your mood, it also maintains cortisol, insulin, and other metabolic hormones.

The counterbalance is progesterone, which encourages calming and sedating effects in the brain while keeping your insulin and thyroid hormones balanced.

What happens when unbalanced? – The most common result is known as estrogen dominance.  This may cause mood swings, irregular periods, fat gain from changes to the hormones that control your metabolic rate.

Other changes you may notice include elevated cortisol levels, increased appetite due to changes in leptin and ghrelin levels, and decreased physical activity which all lead to a caloric excess and fat gain.

Menopausal Changes – As you near menopause, your ovaries will stop producing as much estrogen while your progesterone levels remain the same.  This causes a smaller gap which can lead to sensitivity to insulin, resulting in fat storage around the abdomen.  Making a few changes to your lifestyle will help you fight some of the side effects.


Your body is dependent on insulin to control how your body uses or stores glucose and fat.  It signals your liver, muscles, and fat cells to use the glucose from your blood as energy.  Once your body has enough energy, the liver will then begin storing it as glycogen to be used later.  Once those stores are filled, any excess energy will be converted to fat.

What happens when unbalanced? – Due to a lack of physical activity, or an unhealthy diet, anyone can have a decreased insulin sensitivity.  This causes the insulin levels to rise and requires more of it to extract the glucose from your blood.  Since higher levels are needed, your body will begin converting the excess energy to fat much more quickly and cause problems with your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.

Menopausal Changes – When you reach menopause, your insulin sensitivity will decrease.  The decrease is due to a combination of muscle loss because of less physical activity, and because estrogen helps sensitize insulin.  At Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads we can will help you make lifestyle and diet changes that improve your “metabolic protection” throughout menopause.


Cortisol is commonly known as the “stress hormone.”  It is released on a regular basis throughout your day, such as when you wake up, exercise, or experience acute stress.  Its main role is to help your body maintain its functionary processes.  However, it also plays a huge role in your nutrition.  It keeps your energy balanced by selecting the right type of macronutrient (fat, protein, carbohydrate) your body needs to function.

What happens when unbalanced? – If you enter an extremely stressful situation or experience chronic stress, cortisol levels will become elevated.  This will trigger an increased intake of high carbohydrate foods, resulting in excess calories and high insulin levels.  This combination will create a fat gain, muscle loss, and lowered immunity.

Menopausal Changes – Since estrogen levels decrease during menopause, you may also find things causing more stress than they once did.  You may also notice that physical and psychological challenges are more stressful.  You can fight the effects the reduced insulin and high cortisol levels have on your stress levels with the help of the friendly staff at the best gym on the gold coast Elevation Fitness Centre. Be sure to see Ali to arrange a time to chat or any of our friendly staff on the desk during staff hours

Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones regulate every cell and organ in your body.  They are what control the speed at which your body functions – your metabolic rate.  These hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) – control your heart rate, body temperature, how quickly your body replaces dying cells, how fast your digestive tract works, and how quickly your body burns calories and gains or loses weight.

What happens when unbalanced? – Calorie restriction, over exercising, too few carbs, and changes in other hormones greatly affect your thyroid hormones.  As an example, you can enter a “plateau” when trying to lose weight because your thyroid hormones are too low.

The balancing of thyroid hormones is a complicated process through which the hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to release a thyroid stimulating hormone so that your thyroid gland will release the two thyroid hormones.  T4 can be turned into T3, but if your cortisol level is too high the process is hindered and your levels of active T3 hormones becomes out of balance.

Menopausal Changes – Having too much or too little estrogen can cause your body to produce low levels of T3.  Lower levels of T3 slows your metabolic rate, decreases body temperature, and cause you to become tired and less active.  The right amount of lifestyle and diet change will help you manage your thyroid hormone levels.

Leptin & Ghrelin

Leptin and ghrelin and necessary hormones in appetite control.  Leptin is the appetite regulating hormone released from fat cells.  Ghrelin is the hormone that increases your appetite and plays a major role in body weight.

The more body fat you have, the higher your leptin levels will be and the lower your appetite.  Ghrelin, on the other hand, is not affected by body fat and comes from your stomach.  It is the hormone that signals hunger and activates the reward center of the brain.  This means that ghrelin is also responsible for our emotional hunger that causes us to eat those high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.

What happens when unbalanced? – These hormones do not work appropriately if you are overweight, binge eat, or are in the dieting cycle.  These two hormones become unbalanced because the brain becomes resistant to leptin (the appetite suppressant) due to restrictive eating.  It is important that you eat a balanced diet that includes high-quality foods.

Menopausal Changes –  The lower levels of estrogen in your body effect the amount of leptin your body produces, causing a decrease in leptin levels while your ghrelin levels seem to rise.  Your sensitivity to the leptin will be reduced making it more difficult to keep the hunger hormones balanced.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes that Will Balance Your Hormone Levels Through Menopause

Even though you may feel as though you are losing control as you get older, you can gain back that control.  Making a few diet and lifestyle changes during your 30s will help you balance your hormone levels through menopause.

  1. Include Protein in Your Daily Diet

As you create your nutrition plan, by yourself or with the help of Ali who is our in house nutritionist at Elevation Fitness Centre Gold Coast gym, make sure you include plenty of protein.  The protein will help regulate your appetite and maintain lean muscle.  It is recommended that you eat 1.6 grams of protein for every kg (0.73 lbs.) of body weight.

  1. Aim for High-Quality Protein with Each Meal

You will be able to hit your protein goal, manage blood sugar, and keep insulin in check with high-quality proteins.  The amino acids in proteins such as Include poultry, red meat, fish, eggs, and Greek yogurt, are used as an energy source and aids in repairing muscle tissues.

  1. Eat Plenty of Leafy Green and Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables such as leafy greens, cauliflower, and broccoli help your body metabolize estrogen.  Plus, they have compounds that help your body remove chemicals that mimic estrogen or induce cancer.

  1. Avoid Highly Processed Carbohydrates

These foods do not add much nutritional value.  Instead, aim to eat high-quality carbohydrates such as fresh fruit, whole grains, and root vegetables.  Your insulin and stress levels will be kept at lower levels.

  1. Eat Fruits and Carbs in Moderation

It is important to eat fruits and carbohydrates, but too many can quickly increase your glucose and fructose levels causing your insulin levels to rise.  You can still enjoy your berries and fruit, or that baked sweet potato after a workout, but remember to do so in moderation.

  1. Include High-Fiber Grains, Fruits, and/or Vegetables with Every Meal

Eating 35 – 45 grams of fiber each day will help keep your gastrointestinal (GI) tract in optimal health.  Plus, keeping your fiber levels balanced aids in weight maintenance.  Include foods such as broccoli, lentils, Brussels sprouts, blackberries, avocados, and oatmeal at every meal.

  1. Lower Your Caffeine Intake

You may enjoy your caffeine in the morning to get you going, but avoid drinking it all day.  Caffeine increases your cortisol levels and increases stress levels.

  1. Include Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Daily Diet

Drinking a dessert spoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal with carbs will reduce your fat storage.  Plus, it is also a natural insulin sensitizer.  You can always mix it with a glass of water or eating it on a salad.

  1. Remember Strength Training

Make sure you include strength training as part of your exercise routine.  It will help you maintain muscle mass and improve fat burning efforts.  You can also find the improved mobility and stress reduction a great benefit.

  1. Manage Your Stress

Find ways to manage your stress.  Doing something each day to manage your stress will help keep your cortisol levels low.  You can use deep breathing exercises, or be sure to join us in one of our yoga sessions at Elevation Fitness Centre in Burleigh Heads and be sure to keep an eye on the Group Class timetable on our website.

  1. Don’t Let Yourself Become Deficient in any Nutrient

Low nutrient levels can cause many hormonal unbalances.  Magnesium for insulin and stress management, vitamin D for bone health and hormone balance, and vitamin C for metabolizing cortisol and synthesizing hormones are three you should focus on.

  1. Include Supplements

There are a few supplements that can help you balance your hormones.  DIM will keep estrogen levels balanced.  Rhodiola rosea or holy basil will help reduce stress.  Fish oil help you metabolize estrogen, keep cortisol levels low, and improves your insulin sensitivity.

Again if you are wanting more information simply drop by the desk at Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads and speak to Ali or one of the friendly staff and we are more than happy to help with information and guidance.


Elevation Fitness was born out of a desire to #trainforchange and cultivate an environment of members who have a passion around giving back to vulnerable communities in our local and global world. We partner with PROJECT FUTURES an Australian not for profit that combats human trafficking through projects in Australia and Cambodia. Read More