My time in Hillsborough with Pete Earsman, owner of Koru Fitness, was eye-opening. I did not expect to learn so much about Pete’s worldview when I first met him. From an outsider perspective he worked as a personal fitness instructor—how much was he really going to share? After meeting Pete, I was immediately struck by his story. Born in New Zealand, he joined the army when he was sixteen and then proceeded to travel the world—Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Baghdad, and now Hillsborough. Pete has had many different jobs including working in goldmines for nine years and working for a private security company.

Pete was vulnerable when sharing information about his personal life. He told me about his wife who experienced debilitating back pain for four years. Passionately, Pete expressed his frustration with his wife’s prescription of opioids. With little improvement in her pain, he sought more solutions and a better life for his wife. After a doctor recommended, she stop using opioids her pain diminished and she was able to walk again. Pete is an extremely determined man and a dedicated husband.

Life in Hillsborough allows Pete’s dedication to personal training to thrive. He is busy with clients at all times, and he creates strong relationships with those you enter his gym. With his two beloved dogs always by his side, Pete’s goals for his clients goes far beyond physical improvements in their bodies. His typical hour workouts focus on productive stress relief, learning how to handle and compose oneself, being unapologetic, and to the extent that his clients confide in him, it even acts as a form of therapy. Many people of different ages and professions seek out sessions with Pete. He is especially passionate about training women physically and mentally. He encourages females to “stop looking like a victim” and to get a chance to “hit back”. Pete emphasizes that women can be strong and powerful and that no man should stop a woman from achieving her true potential. Pete’s outlook on life and dedication to the improvement of his client’s lives was inspiring. My time shooting him not only pushed me to take fast paced photos but to face the challenge of bringing meaning to photos of such a passionate man. When you enter Pete’s gym you are not only entering a physical workout but a place of awareness and personal mental improvement.

Unfortunately, my time with Pete was cut short due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I was no longer able to meet with him and photograph him, yet we have stayed in contact. I plan to use what Pete has taught me as a way to view the world.