In my forties my physical and mental health was absolutely shit. I fell into the fitness thing, I have four boys and one of them was at the Fitness Institute and he needed a guinea pig. I thought I was pretty fit, I was work fit, but I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was – it was a real wake up call.

I’ve always lived in Dunedin, I’ve never really had the drive to do the OE. When I finished High School I had no interest in study, I did quite a lot of different things, I was in computers for seven years and then ended up as a labourer at the Hillside rail workshops, then I worked in the foundry there for 18 years, I ended up as a team leader.

My wife says that if I hadn’t left I would have been dead by the time I was 50. The day I walked out of Hillside was an incredible feeling, a big step into the unknown.

When I started at the polytech it was to do a two year diploma focussing on physical training, it was a revelation that I could do the study. One of the lecturers asked me why I didn’t do the degree. I’m still trying to work my way through a Masters, it’s taking too long but I’m getting there. It hasn’t always been easy.

When I graduated I started Never Too Late as a business, but I pottered around the edges for a bit. I was enjoying the lifestyle, I’d train some people and then go out mountain biking. For the last couple of years, I’ve been more focussed on the business so that it’s not just the lifestyle. I joined a business group and that was the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s not too uptight and formal. A lot of laughs, we look out for each other.

I have one client who turns 70 this year, she came to me 5 years ago and her health wasn’t great but now she’s power lifting. Its breaking the mould. It’s cool fun. I do some rehab coaching with people who’ve had accidents, sometimes concussion, sometimes PTSD – I think they find it more comfortable working with me. It’s getting people to reconnect to their body. Some people say ‘I’m too old to do that’ and I say “bollocks you’re too old”.

I do a lot of talking with my clients, but it’s a tricky balance and I’m careful. I’m not a counsellor, I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve had a life. Sometimes I’ll say to clients you need to go and talk to a professional and I’ll give them the numbers to call.

I bumped into an old school mate the other day, same age as me – he looked so old and tired. Dad was 81 when he died, but from the age of 65 his health wasn’t good, he was a smoker and a bit of a large lad – he gave up the ghost, it was good that he lasted that long.

My choice has been the right one but it hasn’t always been easy. I’m 55 this year. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

20170601_085528For more on Paul check out www.nevertoolate.co.nz

N.B. For this series I’m seeking people who change direction later in their lives than most. Next up is Don who following a medical scare decided to change the way he lived and has helped other people along the way. It’s not all men, I have agreement to interview from two ladies with terrific stories who have as yet been unable to find the time to talk with me.

I’m scouting for others who will be prepared to share their stories with me. It doesn’t need to be a career, it can be voluntary work, study, sport or pastimes. Most stories will be affirmative – but not all. Some will be people following long held dreams, others changing careers for economic necessity. Please let me know if you or someone you know might be keen to talk about a substantial shift in their lives.

It doesn’t need to be in New Zealand – this is a world wide trend. I have one interview in Australia lined up and another in the UK.

Please contact me at pete@petecarter.nz

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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