“Strong people are harder to kill”~ Mark Rippetoe.
Role: Founder/Chief Coffee Acquirer
- 5 x World Finalist Firefighting Combat Challenge
- Guinness World Record for Greatest Distance Climbed on a Ladder in 24 hours (Team) 109.59km (13 times the height of Mt Everest)
Will never give up: Coffee (he tried to give up...but nothing got done!)
Army alumnus Rob Holah founded IA when he noticed a need for high quality, functional, strength and conditioning equipment for his own training as a world championship level Firefighters Combat Challenge (FCC) competitor. Rob loves the community that the IA team provides. He loves both working and working out with the IA team and also with affiliate members and owners on his travels around the best boxes and strength facilities in the country. He says the affiliate owners he deals with are "some of the most inspirational, and driven individuals I have ever met, and this is highly contagious to everyone. It shows in their members, and their events too. It’s an inspiration, that makes me love my job.”
He says of his role at Industrial Athletic:
My primary role is in sourcing great people to produce amazing products, and then educating clients as to why quality will always be a better long term savings strategy than penny pinching from the outset. It’s a hard road. In the creation of the company, I have been a hands on part of every facet of this company - Accounts, sales, website, product testing, events, sponsorship, logistics, you name it. I now have a unique, and potentially irreplaceable overview of the entire operation.
Rob loves seeing people in the field achieve their personal goals and thinks there is little better than seeing the smile on someone’s face after a PB or their first muscle-up. His own current personal goal is to win the FCC world championships in 2014.
Rob and IA have supported the National Burn Centre, Leukemia and Blood foundation, Child Cancer Foundation, Breast Cancer Foundation, and a few others too. The most successful efforts being a successful Guinness World Record for climbing a ladder over 24hrs, and TV fundraisers with Wheel of Fortune (is it a family thing?), and Deal or No Deal.
“Train like a beast, look like a lady”
Role: Social media, marketing, ambassador liaison and keeping the boss in line.
Top Achievements: Personal Trainer of the year runner up 2009-2011, Fitness Life cover 2012
Will never give up: Wonder-dog ‘Rockstar’ Rocky
Amber has a long history in the fitness and strength and conditioning fields. Perennially finalist in fitness industry awards. Over the years she has developed a reputation as an elite level trainer with a constant and driving search for innovative and highly functional training techniques. This has lead her to train with and learn from highly regarded strength coaches and athletes such as IAs own Cliff Harvey and Richie Patterson and world renowned coaches such as Steve Cotter. Amber now has a keen interest in CrossFit.
Amber loves that at IA she is able to work with a group of highly talented team mates and athletes doing something she loves. She describes it with one word: ‘AWESOME!’
Team IA Ambassadors
Role: Photographer/Photo editor.
Top Achievements: Being on Wheel of Fortune...
Will never give up: Beer
Contrary to popular belief John’s illustrious past as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune wasn’t the reason John became part of the IA team...
As it turns out he’s pretty good at taking snaps and equally great at editing them to look amazing, something our ambassadors are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief about. John’s a CrossFitter himself, and loves the powerlifting based side of the sport. When asked what he most loves about working with the IA team he replied sheepishly “the occasional pair of free shoes that they throw at me.” But to be fair we throw all sorts of things at John...
John harbours dreams of flying, which would really come in useful with his passion for travelling.
Role: IA’s very own happiness Coach and Weightlifting Guru
- IAWA World Champion 2004, 2007
- 2 x IAWA World Record Holder
- 3rd Place Grappling Nationals 2011
Will never give up: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, spreading #PMA all day, every day
Cliff has been called ‘an enigma wrapped in a riddle’. In clinical practice he is a naturopath and nutritionist with specialities in mind-body medicine and holistic performance nutrition. As an athlete he is a former world champion and world record holder in All-Round Weightlifting, and is currently a competitive submission grappler. His journey in strength sports began as an outlet after making the tough decision to not pursue boxing further due to a series of concussions.
His interest in ‘old-time’ weightlifting and strength exploits lead him to the sport of All-Round weightlifting, and after battling the effects of Crohn’s disease for several years he was able to regain his health and win two world championships and set several world records for feats of strength.
As a mind-body and nutrition coach Cliff has worked with a diverse clientele, ranging from athletic programs at prestigious universities such as the University of British Columbia through to Olympians, world champions and national teams and professional fighters.
His coaches have included Richard Dryden and Andy Rodgers (weightlifting), Wilf Betz and Chris Martin (boxing and kickboxing) and more recently Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts: Shane Rice and Pedro Fernandes, for BJJ and submission grappling.
When he’s not lifting weights or wrestling, Cliff can be found working with patients, writing, at the library or regaling beautiful women over a glass of fine wine (or tea...)
Role: IA’s CrossFit guru, chief equipment tester and all round good guy.
Top Achievements: 2 x 4th place finishes at the CrossFit Regionals.
Will never give up: CrossFit, 85% dark chocolate, and anejo tequila
Sick of getting sand kicked in his face by bullies as a scrawny 11 year old kid, Te Awamutu born Darren Ellis began training in martial arts and eventually (after not growing) became hooked on training in the gym at the age of 16.
A rotator cuff injury started Daz on a journey of rehabilitation that saw his interest in physiology and the art and science of strength training piqued - prompting him to go back to University and complete a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology.
Daz is known for being the man to introduce CrossFit to New Zealand, founding CrossFit New Zealand (CFNZ) in 2008.
Darren is now a beast in the CrossFit and strength worlds, but unlike those who exhibit machismo and bravado, he is one of the most humble athletes we at IA have come across. He prides himself most, not on working with big name athletes (although he has) but on helping ordinary people with “kids, jobs and a mortgage” to achieve their own incredible feats of strength.
He counts amongst his coaches and mentors his good friend Matt Swift from CF Brisbane, Andy Petranek from CF Los Angeles, and CJ Martin from CF Invictus, San Diego. He also credits Mick Shaw and Commando Steve Willis from CFX, Sydney with helping him get his head around starting a CrossFit business.
His passion outside of the strength game is travelling and experiencing the wonders of foreign places, people, sights and sounds, and this is something he continues to make time for in his life of balance, passion and purpose. And when he’s not training, competing or coaching at CFNZ you’d be most likely to find him in the water surfing, diving or swimming, and he plans to at some stage in the near future take up kite-surfing and spear fishing.
“People who train CrossFit are a special breed, and I am fiercely loyal to every single member of my community as in my opinion they are in the top 1% of the population - the other 99% of reality tv watching, fast food consuming people who hate their jobs and hate their lives don't want to be helped.”
“If I would like to be known for a particular philosophy, it would be that exercise and nutrition is not that complicated. Just stick to real movements and real food, and do it everyday.”
Role: Powerlifting Consultant.
- 6 x National Titles
- 7th place - World Championships, 2004
Will never give up: Exercise
Initially entering the iron game wanting to be a bodybuilder, Craig soon realised that his body was more suited to gaining strength than muscle.
In his 14 years of competing he has become known as a lifter who while not being the most naturally gifted, has made up for this lack of genetics with technicality and a lot of hard work.
Craig has been more or less self-coached in his strength career but counts men like Derek Pomana and ‘Mad Dogg’ Matt Jonson and other powerlifting legends as his inspiration in the sport.
He is passionate about keeping the sport of powerlifting alive and vibrant and shows his commitment to this by giving his time as a National Referee and is president of his local association. His other love in the sport is being able to see lifters overcoming barriers and succeeding and to this end he has helped several lifters including his sister: Celia McMillan and recently the Holah boys (Rob and John) in their pursuit of greater strength for the Firefighters Combat Challenge.
Outside of the sport of powerlifting Craig counts his family as the most important thing in life, taking first place and narrowly over his veggie garden - where you’re likely to see him spending Sunday afternoons getting dirt under the nails and growing food for the table.
Craig would like to be remembered as “Someone who always had time for people and was friendly and always helpful with a smile or a joke.”