Words by Felicity Bonello
ZACH VICKERS: TRANSPOSE FITNESS co-owner, one half of an exercising power couple, coach, boxer, and father - talks life in and outside the ring. Meet the ultimate contender…
PE: You and Siannon are an exercising power couple. What are the benefits to having an exercise buddy (romantic or not) or should you go it alone?
ZV: "For support mainly. For those times when you feel like it's too cold outside or it feels too hard to train, it's about accountability. A partner can help keep you accountable. But in the same breath there are perhaps times when you need a bit of self-reflection or you need a bit of time to yourself, I think it just depends on the person. For me personally, I like to train by myself but I also train with a boxing team and I have for many years. Obviously boxing is a solo sport when it comes time to fighting in the ring or in competition; but in the lead up, you have your coach and your training partners who are like family and I guess they hold you accountable too. For Siannon, she's always been really disciplined, she's literally one of the most disciplined people I've ever met so she always tends to hold me accountable; she's pretty strict with her schedule, which is something that's quite rare to come across."
Zach wears the Pace Break Tee
PE: Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby boy Navah. Between training and photography projects, you and Siannon have built up an incredible business together. How has having a baby changed the way you work?
ZV: "It’s hard to describe, but it’s like you’re running a race and you put blinkers on and you just hone your focus. We now no longer live just as a couple and live for ourselves as a couple, we now have this other small life that depends on us. I think having a baby forces you to focus more towards the things that are positive and constructive and try not to focus so much on the things that are negative and probably don’t really matter so much in the grand scheme of things; you just don’t let certain things bother you anymore because you kind of have a greater perspective on life. When our little man came along it really forced us to focus in and live in a way that’s selfless.”
PE: When it comes to business, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how did you tackle those challenges?
ZV: “I think we’ve been pretty fortunate. Prior to the training business we were both modeling and travelling through Europe and the States and then doing trips back here. During that time we managed to build a bit of a community, and when we did decide to start our business, we started with models who needed to be trained or wanted a form of training they could enjoy, as well as with friends. Being in the industry we understood what was required, which helped. I guess, one of the challenges when it comes to the boxing, is that there are a lot of boxercise places around and we had to distinguish ourselves with a point difference; I’ve boxed for so long and teach a technically correct form of boxing, that’s also enjoyable. The relationships we’ve built have always been really supportive. No one’s ever been negative or tried to tear us down, (that we know of!). We’re good friends with FluidFormPilates and we’ve built up a really great relationship with them so now we co-work and run events together. Kirsten (FluidFormPilates owner) has become a really close family friend and she’s got three daughters of her own so Navah’s almost like an extension of her family.”
PE: Everyone has a different body and we all respond to training techniques in various ways; you’re an advocate for boxing. What does boxing give you that perhaps some other types of exercise doesn’t?
ZV :“So much I think. For me personally, when I was growing up I got into a little bit of trouble so boxing was a way to focus my attention and keep me away from trouble. In terms of that, I think boxing can provide mental clarity and mental resilience as well as the physical benefits. In terms of physical benefits it’s obviously a full body workout; muscular endurance, muscular strength, it kind of ticks all the boxes. It’s got coordination, timing, and rhythm. It burns fat; it’s a high intensity workout. It provides you with a useful tool in the form of self-defense, if you ever did find yourself in trouble it could potentially get you out of trouble. But I think for me, and probably Siannon, it’s more the deeper side where you actually form a connection in terms of a ‘family aspect’ that appeals to us.
A lot of people from broken homes and from a lower socio economic demographic get into boxing; when you’re boxing you spend so much time with your coach, you become so loyal to them, and your coach becomes almost like a family figure, whether that’s an uncle or a brother or even father to some people. Boxing helps settle your mind if you’re feeling a bit lost and when you do find that coach or that one place to train, you have a little team and that then becomes an extension of you. A lot of people that might feel a bit lost have this massive support network purely through training and love for a sport.”
PE: You’ve said before that boxing is a ‘mind active sport’ – how important is nutrition to your mind and your overall wellbeing?
ZV: “Nutrition is massive. I think nutrition is probably the greater percentage in mental clarity and in physical stature than the actual training itself. I find people often overcomplicate a very simple equation: train hard, eat well, and listen to your body when you need to ease off and do a recovery session - it’s a simple recipe. A lot of people these days ‘detox’ and they often say they feel so alert, so awake and so responsive. I’m not a qualified nutritionist but I can speak through personal experience and what I’ve found is that certain foods do make you feel sluggish, heavy, foggy in the brain and not as quick to respond. Your body is like a complex engine and if you’re feeding it the wrong fuel, it’s not going to run smoothly and efficiently. Nutrition plays a bigger part than training. Training is matter of consistency, showing up, doing work, training hard. But nutrition’s more discipline, staying focused, eating as part of a lifestyle rather than dieting.”
PE: Your business is exercise, and you’re getting around in street active wear most of the time; what do you look for when you’re choosing gear to work out in?
ZV: “I’m a bit different on that front. I grew up quite heavily influenced by hip-hop and rap and grew up listening to Tupac and Biggie and those other guys that were around in the 90s. Obviously I’m coming from a boxing culture where if it’s boiling hot outside it’s not too uncommon to be wearing a full tracksuit with a hood on and a beanie on. It fully depends on the exercise though. I like training in baggier jumpers and beanies when I’m boxing - it gives me more freedom; but when it comes to running, I like a bit more skin out for breathability and general cooling of the body. It really depends on what the work out is.”
PE: P.E Nation has expanded its offering beyond women’s athleisure; with its menswear collection, what do you like about this latest collection and what do you hope to see in the next one?
ZV: “Finally! Men’s fashionable athleisure has been a long time coming. Not many men’s brands do it. In my opinion PE has a hip hop kind of thing going on, clothes are a bit more oversized, design is a bit more exaggerated and that’s what I really like about it. They’re keen to push the boundaries a little bit more. Because I’m friends with Pip I get to see collections before they come out, and see the look book, so in terms of what I’d like to see, I’d like to see more buyers buying the more fashion forward pieces that get made into samples but never get mass produced because buyers might think they’re too fashion forward! From PE’s latest collection there’s this jacket, it’s almost like a bomber it’s really nice - red, white, black - and it didn’t get mass produced. It was this key piece! I’d love to see more bomber jackets, maybe a bit of leather and denim for men.”
PE: You’re a busy guy. And now with a beautiful baby in the mix, life is more likely, even busier. What advice do you have for men out there that are adjusting to the juggle of work and parenthood?
ZV: “I’m only 5 months in, I don’t think I’m in a position to give anyone advice, not even on the best of days! But if I had to, I’d say - switch off. Put the phone away. Be present in this moment in time with your kid because if you bring work home with you, it can crowd your mind. That crowding of your mind can then take over from the time you want to spend with, for me, my son and Siannon, at which point you can miss that once in a lifetime precious moment. Work is definitely important, but the family side of your life should always come first. We need the ability to go hey, that’s work. Work is work, but the minute you get home, I’m purely a father, partner and I want to spend time with my family. We also take a Polaroid of Navah every Friday – he was born on a Friday – at the end of the year we’ll put them all together and watch that transition and that change. You don’t want to miss moments when they’re so young because you literally won’t get that moment back. You want to try and find a balance but don’t forgo precious moment with family.”
PE: How are you and your family planning to spend your inaugural Fathers Day?
ZV: “Well it was Siannon’s first Mothers Day not so long ago and I organized a surprise for her and I’m pretty sure she’ll reciprocate that so I’m not too sure! It’ll be a surprise.”
Follow Zach and Siannon at @transposefitness