“It was always my dream to work for Nike,” says Kirsty Godso. “I just thought that I would work for them in the office, I didn’t even know you could be a Nike trainer. None of us knew that it was even a possibility.”
The queen of Kiwi fitness isn’t simply a trainer however, rather she holds the guru-like title of Nike Master Trainer, having been scouted by the sporting giants while working for Les Mills. After a couple of years with the company, Kirsty was bestowed that mystical title—the only one in the entire Pacific region.
“It’s funny, because people are always like, ‘That’s awesome, but what does Nike Master Trainer actually mean?’,” chuckles Kirsty from her Manhattan apartment. “Well, individually, we all have our own strengths and talents. I’m known as the ‘hype girl’, I’m very high energy. I take the lead in a lot of the Nike training app, present workouts, and do photo shoots.”
Kirsty also trains Hollywood stars and models (she’s also a cover star in her own right, including for Women’s Health Australia), consults, fronts ads and helms classes up to 3,000-strong. Does she, I wonder, feel a bit of a rock star when on stage in front of so many souls?
“It’s pretty surreal, but I just go out there and think about the workout and try to teach the same whether it be 20 or 2,000 people. I used to get really nervous back in the day, but now I just think, ‘Okay, cool, let’s get to work.’”
Kirsty jokes that her relationship with Nike is like that of wife and husband, committed to each other and achieving their goals together. I ask if she has an actual husband. She doesn’t, but if there are any eligible six-foot-three hunks out there, she’s all ears.
Potential suitors wouldn’t just have to be tall though, they’d have to also be ridiculously fit to keep up. Kirsty’s typical teaching schedule begins at 6am, and after conducting classes for around four hours (“I might be doing anywhere from 40-90 percent of the class with them”) she begins her own training. This most committed of Kiwis even works up a bit of sweat during her downtime, usually with her best pal and top New Zealand model, Georgia Fowler. “We are pretty good at taking our days off together,” continues Kirsty. “We go walking or bike around the city. We go to yoga. We do also play games and hang out with friends.”
Rest days, she adds, are vital, and warns about getting into an “abusive relationship” with exercise: “It’s about listening to your body.”
Are people’s expectations too unrealistic in terms of how fast they can transform their bodies?
“People certainly need to think more about longevity and what they’re trying to achieve. When making a dramatic shift in behavior you should attach it to something a little more grounded than ‘I want a six-pack’ or ‘I want to lose 20 pounds’. Habitual changes are the ones that will stay with you in the long run, whereas aesthetic goals wear off. People go too fast and burn themselves out and miss targets. Things come up in life, and you must be resilient, a little more committed and able to adapt your schedule and training.”
Discipline is key.
“One of the most beautiful things about exercise is how it reveals your weaknesses. It’s always funny when people say that I’m lucky to be a trainer. But I still have to work for it. I still have to earn it every day. You always have a choice, and you can always make a new choice. Never feel that you are limited.”
Similarly, Kirsty says it’s essential to alter the way we view food.
“Instead of thinking you can’t have something, exert power over it and make a choice not to have it. And rather than living in a little world of restriction, remember it’s still okay to have the odd guilty pleasure. We’re here to live. I wish people would stop using phrases like ‘cheat day’ because why would you want to say ‘cheat’? It’s a really negative connation to be feeding yourself. It’s food. Let’s be realistic.”
Kirsty partly puts her vast reservoir of self-motivation down to her upbringing.
“My mum’s a professional golfer and my dad also played at a high level,” she says. “I certainly learnt discipline from them when I was growing up. When I left school and went to university, that’s when I hit the gym a lot as I was no longer playing as much team sport.”
Outside of the gyms and studios, Kirsty has also been putting her double business degree to good use, launching her own range of protein powder (called Made Of) and founding Pyro Girls, a workout-cum-community health project that now has its own sports clothing range in partnership with the likes of Nike.
Kirsty’s also thrilled to be flying the flag for Aotearoa.
“It’s crazy when you live in New York and tell people that you’re a New Zealander they look at you like you’re some mythical being!” she says. “It really just does have the best reputation and I think it’s really important that we don’t take that for granted. It’s such a special place in the world and I’m so proud to hail from there.”