A Gymnast’s Journey: Mark Holyoake’s Unique Career


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Within the global sphere of professions, only selective handfuls of individuals professionally pursue athletic ventures, and find success within their chosen passions. Some never have the courage to pursue their passions to their fullest potential, while others break silently at the first sign of struggle, pain, or adversity. Selective athletes, however, pummel through the physical and mental agility required to pursue their chosen sport on a full-time basis, succeeding within the delicate balancing act of athletic endeavor, maintaining a private life, and ensuring financial balance. Even fewer athletes utilize their professional career as a cornerstone, and a building bloc, for their future career trajectory post-athletic career. Blinded by a single focus, some professional athletes do not retain focus on educational endeavors, or ways in which they can proactively dictate their career path well in the future. These potential issues befall even the most athletically gifted individuals, at times, being the deciding factor between long-term success and failure.

For Mark Holyoake, however, none of these potential limitations came to fruition. His long-term career success, however, was not the culmination of luck, combined with sheer athletic talent. The record-setting professional gymnast combined his athletic prowess with motivation and focus far wiser than his years, the macro-level thinking needed to pursue educational opportunities for future self-betterment, and the self-awareness required to balance a flourishing professional athletic career, whilst preparing for the chapters of his life following the culmination of his undoubtedly impressive career.

Holyoake was born in Wellington, New Zealand on March 1, 1983. Developing his love of gymnastics at a very early age, Holyoake was heavily involved in the sport since the age of 9. Competing as an “all-rounder”, Holyoake excelled within the arenas of floor routines, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar. While many hopeful gymnasts specialize in one or two disciplines, the even-keeled athlete excelled within each niche form of the sport. Impressively, by the age of 10, Holyoake was making the team for various national development squads, teams focused on fostering the skills of the most talented children worldwide, aimed at creating professional athletes. From a young age, Holyoake learned to balance his formal education, with his ever-increasing love for competitive gymnastics. Forgoing a traditional childhood of focusing his freetime on playing with friends, young Holyoake honed his skills at the gym when most of his friends were frolicking. With dedication and drive from a young age, he excelled academically, and in sport, from a young age.

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Upon the completion of his primary education, Holyoake relocated to attend Auckland University, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Sport and Exercise Science. Juggling between being a full-time student, and a full-time athlete would have undoubtedly found some individuals unable to dedicate sufficient focus to each discipline. However, Mark thrived within this fast-paced, independently driven atmosphere. Throughout his undergraduate studies, Holyoake parlayed his previously perfected self-motivation through excelling within his education, competing and training within the realm of gymnastics, working as a part-time personal trainer, and joining the Tri Star Gymnastics Club in the Auckland Regional Gymsport Centre at Keith Hay Park. There, he became a shining beacon for younger athletes, proving that hard work pays off in terms of rising up the ranks within a chosen sport. As his gymnastics career continued to soar, he became an inspiration and motivation for younger members of the Tri Star Club, encouraging other hopeful gymnasts to pursue their passions.

Swiftly, Holyoake began seeing the fruits of his labors via recognitions, placements, and other impressive feats. Competing in showcases of all magnitudes, Holyoake welcomed each opportunity to hone his talents, perform in front of sporting enthusiasts, and further his reach within the realm of professional gymnastics. In 2005, Holyoake placed 25th at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. During the following year’s Commonwealth Games, Holyoake stood proudly in 11th place.

In 2009, Holyoake made great professional strides toward garnering the Olympic dream of every professional athlete. Through competing in various strategic competitions, Holyoake worked toward qualifying for the upcoming Olympic games. In early 2009, Holyoake worked tirelessly to perfect his craft in preparation for Germany’s World Championships. Determined to make it through the qualifying rounds, and retain his spot en route to the Olympics, Holyoake’s fitness regime was dramatically increased throughout this rigorous period of competition. Training up to thirty hours a week, perfecting his routine became a literal full-time job for Holyoake. Though he vastly enjoyed the sport of gymnastics, and excelled within his training, the athlete recognized the all-encompassing dedication required to achieve his ultimate goal of qualifying for a spot on his beloved nation’s Olympic team.

Climbing the ranks throughout the prestigious Commonwealth Games competition, Holyoake was a member of the New Zealand team, which stood in 4th place in 2010. Independently, Holyoake placed 4th on the parallel bars within the same competition. The same year, Holyoake became a Guinness World Record holder for beating the record for most double leg rotations on a Pommel Horse in 60 seconds with a total of 65 rotations. Not only was this tremendous feat of athleticism renowned for its’ difficulty within the niche of gymnasts who consider the Pommel Horse their worst enemy, but by anyone who understands the sheer athleticism required to complete this impressive task.

After many professional accomplishments, accolades, and international recognition, Holyoake retired in 2010. As an experienced gymnast, he pivoted his career as a personal trainer at Les Mills International.

Understanding the time-sensitive nature of a professional athlete’s career, Holyoake’s choice to garner his BS Degree in a field of interest, one that would also provide him with a viable income after the completion of his gymnastics career, was a forward-thinking move that many athletes do not consider. With a single focus on dominating their chosen sport, many athletes cannot see a life beyond competing within their sport of focus. For gymnasts, specifically, the lifespan of a career can last only a few years. Thus, with a “big picture” plan in mind, Holyoake successfully set up his future post-gymnastics. He parlayed his previously perfected skills in this new role, coaching clients on not only the basics of diet and exercise, but the unique motivational aspects needed to succeed in any long-term training regimen. Having excelled firsthand within the demands of a rigorous training regimen, Holyoake remains uniquely qualified to be a source of ongoing motivation for his clients.

Holyoake’s athletic endeavors didn’t end after the culmination of his professional gymnastics career. As a professional trainer at Les Mills, he is actively involved in the wellbeing of clients, as well as setting a positive example for those seeking a healthy, athletic lifestyle. Thus, he continues to focus on his own personal health, and wellbeing. The competitive spirit that sparked Holyoake’s focus throughout his gymnastics days still reigns supreme, as Holyoake now remains active within the ever-growing CrossFit community, and competes within several New Zealand based CrossFit events, ranking within each competition. In addition to these endeavors, Holyoake also develops gymnastics clinics for students of all ages, and athletic capacities. 

Most recently, Holyoake, along with co-founder Tila Hamad, opened Carbon Method Crossfit, taking his newly forged love of Crossfit to the next level professionally. With a focus on precise coaching, and an involved staff experience, Carbon Method aims to provide the highest level of individual attention for all clients, further drawing upon Holyoake’s previous experiences within the realm of athletics. Within this new business venture, Holyoake draws upon his prior athletic experiences, combines them with the knowledge garnered during his undergraduate studies, and his continued forward-thinking nature. In this capacity, Holyoake works closely to develop the skills of Carbon Method’s Coaches, and even partakes in teaching a Gymnastics class throughout the weekly group class schedule. Interested in the manner in which the body moves, and the impact of such movement on day-to-day life, Mark’s commitment to his clients lies in assisting them to develop healthy habits, and maximize their workouts for the betterment of daily life. Utilizing his knowledge, skills, and experiences, Holyoake can break down the movements involved in CrossFit unlike many peers, making him a highly effective coach, instructor, and mentor.

Throughout his professional trajectory, Holyoake has remained highly dedicated to the task at hand, working diligently to excel within a particular endeavor, whether gymnastics, education, or CrossFit. Throughout each of his highly-specialized endeavors, however, he also retained a macro-level of thinking, considering ways in which he could parlay the current day’s experiences into a successful future, stacking his experiences in a useful manner. Rather than relying on being able to float into the next phase of his professional career, Holyoake took matters into his own hands, and developed his own opportunities, including his newest entrepreneurial venture that combines his education, passion, experiences, and unique qualifications into one successful venture. While many athletes succeed in a single venture, or burn bright before fading away, Holyoake has positioned himself very purposefully in a place that allows for long-term success, a unique feat unto itself.



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