Start Now, Find Out What You’re Capable Of
Meet Matt Palmer (@mattypalmer_), lululemon Pacific Fair Ambassador. Matt inspires us to realise our full potential through his achievements across many different areas of life. Find out more about Matt below.
Standing there in front of 70 men of all ages and backgrounds but with the same desire to connect and learn, I had a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. Picking up the microphone and doing a mental skim of the notes I had scrawled earlier, I had a feeling of pride in what I’d achieved to get to this point and a sense of realisation that this project I had put so much time and effort into over the last few years may just work.
"As a young boy from the rural Queensland town of Mackay, I spent a large majority of my childhood kicking the footy around in the backyard and watching my idols take flying marks at the MCG. I always had a vision of being a part of something bigger than myself but it took me a while to find my feet."
After finishing school knowing that my main passions lay in sports and helping others, I studied Sports Science at JCU Townsville and then moved to the Gold Coast at 21. Young and relatively naive, I jumped at the opportunity of an apprenticeship in strength and conditioning at the Gold Coast Suns. I had only been outside of Queensland a handful of times prior, so this really was like moving to the big smoke!
Fast forward 7 years and I am now trying to take what I’ve learnt through sport and coaching to provide opportunities for people to engage with others and achieve social connection; something which many people can lack in this day and age and which I believe is absolutely crucial for good health.
Mindpak is a very important project to me. It came about as I saw men, post their football careers, struggle to replace that social aspect; they found it hard to meet new people and as a result, felt a sense of isolation. I wanted to create a safe space for guys to chat about, well, whatever it is that they want - like they would at a home BBQ.
"We all have different life experiences and when you get a group of guys in the one room who are willing to share their experiences and learnings, it’s a pretty powerful thing."
And so, MindPak was born; a monthly catch up where guests speakers share their stories over a few beers and attendees can freely mingle afterward. Mindpak has now grown from being held in a local cafe with a dozen attendees, to being held in a business school with 70 in attendance.
I also knew people were craving social connection through the increasing numbers at my local run group, 440 Miami. Based on the 440 RUN CLUB, anyone is welcome at 440 Miami. It’s a cost-free activity and we run hills in the dark, go for a dip in the ocean and grab coffee afterwards. I can’t think of a better way to start the day and have met so many amazing people including entrepreneurs, students and parents.
In addition to Mindpak and 440 Miami, I am lucky enough to work in strength and conditioning with the Southport Sharks AFL club, which is excitingly entering the VFL league this year. I also manage the Gym at Salt in Kingscliff and find that both my paid work and side hustles tie in so well. They all come back to the two things I have always been passionate about but couldn’t define when I was younger; movement and connection.
Though managing these different projects keeps me busy and on my toes, I have received so much back. I feel an enormous sense of satisfaction in seeing individuals connect and feel valued. I have been amazed at the generosity of others in reaching out to help. If a few guys walk away to the end of the evening holding their head a little higher and feeling inspired, all the work has been worth it.
"Though I work in my chosen fields as a leader, I am just as prone as anyone to fear and doubt. I have had to overcome many of my own insecurities. Ironically, through helping others with their confidence, it has in turn helped my own. Though it can be hard not to worry about looking silly or messing up, if you are truly passionate about something, the passion will overrule the uncertainty with a bit of persistence."
In terms of the future, I’m very excited about the potential for Mindpak to grow on a national scale. I believe men from rural backgrounds like my own could greatly benefit from the project and would love them to mix with men from metropolitan areas- who knows what opportunities a connection can bring about?
I will continue to work hard to develop my professional career in AFL and to chase the goal of working with athletes at the highest level in strength and conditioning. And a few other ideas may be in the pipeline, so you’ll have to watch this space!
I continue to learn more about myself everyday through challenging myself to be as productive as possible, which brings out the best me. I’ve learnt to never underestimate what I’m capable of.
So my advice to others with big aspirations - take a risk, don’t be afraid to ask for help, do what you’re passionate about and you never know the opportunities which may arise!