Profile: Stephen Hotter

Stephen Hotter’s work will be “intense” and his days physically demanding as he strives to set up a gym/resistance training area in just five days, as part of New Zealand’s Preparation and Recovery Area at the Rio Olympics.

Flying into Rio in mid-July, the strength and conditioning specialist will have to provide much of “the grunt” to set up the space inside five days in the basement of the New Zealand Olympic team’s accommodation block.

Once up and running the dedicated area will aid Kiwi athletes when it comes to simulating their normal competition preparation and recovery and also provide the flexibility for them to train and recover without having to battle with other countries to use shared equipment in the Olympic Village gym.

“To be able to prepare and/or reset the body for the next day's event is going to be of a huge benefit,” explains Stephen. “It is hard to put a number on it, but it will provide a great point of difference.”

Expected to work up to 16-hour days during his time in Brazil, it will be Stephen’s role to shift and set up a range of gym equipment – such as large squat racks, an Olympic lifting platform, kettle bells and an artificial turf floor– from the container into to the resistance training area.

He will be expected to work around-the-clock to set up the fully functioning gym in time for the arrival of the first members of the New Zealand team to arrive in the Olympic Village.

“There will be some big days ahead to make sure we have everything right and that everyone is happy with the functionality of the gym,” explains Stephen. 

“It will be intense work and very labour intensive,” he says. “We are a small team so we will have to work efficiently. I’m sure I’ll be tired at the end of each day. Yet I’m hoping the adrenaline will get me through because there is a lot of work to be done.”  

Organisationally Stephen will have to be on point, but much of his duties will focus on heavy lifting, including transporting a very large artificial turf floor he will need to secure to the floor.

He will also have to set up the resistance training area ensuring it is clear of any health and safety issues, which could potentially impact on the athletes.

However, he is confident this will not be an issue in Rio.

“We are working in a relatively limited space but this should not be a problem because I don't think we've over ordered on the equipment and we have a good handle on what we need,” he adds. “My aim is to get as close as possible to replicating how other facilities are set up around New Zealand. If I achieve that goal, then I'll be happy.”

Once Stephen has completed his task the space will then be available for the athletes to use under instruction from their individual strength and conditioning coaches.

“Once the area is up and running and everyone is happy, I will hand it over,” says Stephen, who will fly home back to New Zealand before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Games. “It is then the team’s job to do what they need to do and hopefully bring home some medals.”

And as for Stephen, yes, he has been working out at the gym to prepare himself for his demands in Rio.

“I’ve been going two or three times a week and I might step this up a little closer to the Games,” he adds.



  • Name: Stephen Hotter
  • Age: 46
  • Lives: Wellington

How did you first get involved in strength and conditioning?
“I was working at the same gym which the Wellington Rugby team operated out of and I was fortunate to be offered some voluntary work with them and later some contract work. I then successfully applied for a role as an Academy trainer and an assistant trainer with the Wellington Lions. I later moved on to work with the Hurricanes from 2005 to 2008 and since late 2008 I've worked at HPSNZ initially as strength and conditioning coach with the Wellington Firebirds cricket team (note, Stephen is a former left arm fast bowler for Wellington) and Pulse Netball. My role today is principally as strength and conditioning coach for the Silver Ferns and as a regional relationship manager.”   

Why the passion for strength and conditioning?
“I have never been involved in sports such as rowing or cycling, I'm a big fan of the ground based sports where players use their skill to beat the opposition. I'm a massive believer that while fitness does not guarantee you victory being unfit certainly guarantees you defeat.”  

What qualities does a good strength and conditioning coach need?
“A key aspect of strength and conditioning is to be able to relate to people. At the end of the day you are selling something to the athletes and sometimes that is a hard sell because strength and conditioning can be hard work. I believe you need a good ability to communicate and to deal with individuals. Personality plays a big part. You'll often find a strength and conditioning coach might enjoy great results in one environment but that does not always transfer to another sport. This is because the coach's approach does not fit with the culture of the sport and the different personalities of the athletes associated with that sport”.