Body Building couple reach national heights together
With early morning starts, months of training and restaurant meals completely out of the picture, it helps when your partner is into the same sport as you.
And Brendon Lawrence and Nikayla Baker's relationship has pushed them to become two of the top body builders in the country, both taking out their categories at the recent WFF (World Fitness Federation) Pan Pacific International Body Building champs in Auckland.
They met around two years ago through body building and since then have been pushing each other to perform at their best.
"It just wouldn't work if we didn't both do it, put it that way," Baker said, as the couple sat in a side room of the Rampage Fitness gym in Westown where they train.
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"When you get a bit scratchy there's someone else there to offload on."
Lawrence, 35, was the first to get into body building while Baker, 20, became interested after meeting him.
"There's a lot of days where you don't have a lot of energy, you're doing a lot of work, you've just kind of had enough but it is nice to have someone there to just crank you along and pick you back up and drag you down to the gym and make you hurt," Lawrence said.
"We seem to enjoy it, as crazy as it sounds."
Their preparation for each competition starts months beforehand and since Baker has been competing for most of the year, she's been fully focused on training since the end of 2016.
She admitted having a partner who was also into the sport was more beneficial for her than Lawrence, as he was already quite controlled when it came to sticking to the structure.
"Because you've got to put so much into it that...it's not like 'honey can we go out for dinner this week', it doesn't even enter the equation," she said.
The Auckland competition was the first in which they had competed together and they said it was great to both gear up for it at the same time, as in the past it was usually one person on the special diet while the other was still able to eat what they liked.
"Seeing him still enjoying his food and I'd still try and make things he liked to eat, not being able to eat them myself, is a mental struggle," Baker said.
"So this time around we were eating the same foods and doing cardio together.
"It motivated me to go and do it because he'd make me get out of bed."
The couple live and breath the sport and their daily routine includes tracking their meals down to the gram as well as at least three hours of training, on top of the personal training they give clients and the nutrition business they run.
"We had photos on our bedside tables for weeks and weeks beforehand of those trophies, and every week it was getting up and looking at them and reminding ourselves, especially on the days it was hard, why we were doing it, that it was what we wanted and that was what we ended up going and getting," Baker said.
That work paid off with Lawrence winning the amateur men's performance class and Baker winning the women's amateur superbody class, which meant they were both offered "pro" certificates.
Baker accepted hers and went on to take second in the professional class, while Lawrence turned his down as he had other aspirations.
"I still want to win an overall Mr New Zealand title," he said, a feat that wasn't possible if he had accepted.
"Next year will be the goal of going through to the national championships and winning that."