From Men’s Health to Planet Fitness, Neil van Rooyen

Neil van Rooyen, a man of planetary fitness

Fitness involves more than a mere exercise regime. It is a lifestyle that entails dedication, determination and passion. It is a lifestyle that Neil van Rooyen dedicates himself too daily.

But there is more to Neil than mere brawn. As a family man, married with one daughter, Neil’s journey is one of strength and perseverance. From a chubby varsity student to a gym owner, Neil is proof that hard work pays off.

“I wasn’t the most sporty or athletic guy in high school. But after going to university in Potchefstroom, I went from being the skinny guy to the chubby guy, because of all the fast food and booze,” he laughed.

Yet, there lingered a desire to improve his health, a yearning that grew and grew. “I used to read fitness magazines and who doesn’t want to look like one of those guys? One day in 2009, I decided to join the gym.”

Training three to five times a day, Neil discovered a latent passion for fitness he never realised he had. “After a year, when you start seeing results, it becomes addiction. When I lost all the weight, I wanted to become more muscular and set myself new goals.”

Through a proper diet and training on a daily basis, Neil’s mission was accomplished. He became the picture of fitness. “In 2012, I took part in the Men’s Health Magazine Cover Guy competition. While I didn’t win, I came into the top 10 and was featured in the magazine.”

From there, he set his sights on new horizons. The time for greatness had arrived and he took up bodybuilding. “Bodybuilding takes one’s training to an entirely new level. I started training twice a day, cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon.”

Neil van Rooyen, Newcastillian, Newcastle
Neil van Rooyen is most at home in gym.

Dedicated to his new regime, Neil saw himself flourish in bodybuilding. “My new diet saw me eating six to seven meals a day. Proteins and calories counted religiously. Training six days a week. It is hard work, but it is rewarding.”

His hard work paid off in 2016. Participating in his first bodybuilding competition hosted by International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB), Neil flexed his way to first place. “It took some convincing to enter, but I am glad I did, as it is a privilege to be associated with IFBB. But I must be honest, it was nerve wreaking walking onto the stage in front of hundreds of people.”

He classifies winning the bodybuilding competition as one of the highlights in his fitness career. “I also took third place in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincials in 2016, then second place in the 2017 KZN Provincials.”

Neil also has two big sponsors backing him, namely Nutri-tech and Derange Clothing. “I have been a fan of Deranged Clothing for years and to be a brand ambassador for them is amazing. Nutri-Tech is a supplement agency and for someone from Newcastle to be a brand ambassador is a privilege.”

But one the biggest highlights in his fitness career is bringing Planet Fitness Just Gym to Newcastle. It is a dream that he has harboured for years. But how does he juggle running a gym, training and being a husband and father?

“You don’t know how much you are capable of until you have to do it. I am also one of those people that thrive under pressure. As a perfectionist when it comes to gym, I strive to ensure my gym members are happy and everything runs smoothly.”

But, he said it is through his wife that he can juggle everything so smoothly. “I am blessed to be married to my wonderfully, supportive wife, Natasha. The gym is something we both wanted and as soon as our daughter is a bit bigger, she will be more hands on with me at Planet Fitness.”

But while his wife supports him and his endeavours, Neils says it is important to find a balance in one’s life. “My wife and I are always there for each other. When I get home from work, I help around the house and with the baby.”

With his sights set on the future, Neil is eager to continue his journey in the fitness world and bring a sense of health to the community.

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