Core Fusion Athlete Development and Conditioning

My interest in fitness began at a young age. I grew up playing all sports but once I was in high school I focused on football, hockey and lacrosse. With these sports came a huge emphasis on health and fitness. At my high school, Lakeshore Catholic High School in Port Colborne ON, there was a large emphasis placed on academics and athletics and that was right up my alley. I worked hard to be athletically and academically sound while managing to play Jr Hockey, Varsity football and Varsity Field Lacrosse and excelling at all of them. I had the opportunity to play all three sports at the University and Amateur Level so decisions had to be made. After finishing out my Jr Hockey career and playing in the Canadian Jr Football League I decided to focus on my academics. I finished my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and pursued a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology. It was in between my undergraduate degree and my masters degree where my focus shifted to strength and conditioning from a functional training perspective. At the time I worked as a Strength and Conditioning coach for the Brock University Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams and an Assistant Coach for the Women’s Hockey team.

Nicholas (in red)

While at Brock University I conducted research for Hockey Canada on the prediction of fitness levels in hockey players of all ages as well as the impact of body checking on injury occurrence in young minor hockey players. I then realized I had a passion for research! I was accepted into a PhD at Western University in Exercise Physiology but knew it wasn’t for me. While working on my PhD I was offered the position at Mohawk College and withdrew to become a Professor in Health Wellness and Fitness.

I have been a professor in the Health, Wellness and Fitness program at Mohawk College since its inception four years ago. I was hired to aid in the development of the program from the ground up. Our first intake was expected to be approximately 30 students and we ended up with 130 first semester students. Since then our program has grown significantly and it is now highly recognized and respected among industry professionals in Southern Ontario.

Core Fusion Athlete Development and Conditioning is a business that I run out of the college. I started Core Fusion as an initiative to provide Mohawk College students with the opportunity to observe the strength and conditioning industry first hand. I wanted them to see what it is like to work one on one with clients or run group training sessions or team training sessions. In four years Core Fusion has become a well-recognized strength and conditioning business in southern Ontario. We work with people of all ages and abilities, athletes, teams, groups of all ages, sports and abilities and the best part is that it is being run by my colleague Chantal Szpak, two former students (Mark Cormier and Kim Dehaan) and a current student (Danielle Lavoie). We are constantly looking for new clients and new teams as well.

“I remember working with personal trainers (friends of my parents) at a young age and that is what sparked me. Seeing how committed people were to the industry and constantly seeing myself improve. I remember the rush of noticing improvements in my performance at such a young age. I have had my ups and downs. I have always known how important fitness is from an educational perspective and I have worked as a personal trainer, coach, strength and conditioning coach, professor, and health and wellness educator working with students who have made poor lifestyle choices. At the same time I have lived and learned. I have made the mistakes of showing up to training camps out of shape, trying to periodize my own training and being overweight, following the wrong advice, reading the wrong magazine etc. One thing I have learned and I preach is that you have to get out there and do it. You have to try it. Try different programs, try different lifts, try different workouts, workout with as many different people as you can and do their workouts, learn from as many people as you can BUT be open-minded. See what works for you, find out what works for you and for others and formulate your own theories. Do not always believe what you read works for everyone because it does not. Everyone is different and everyone responds differently to different training.”

Fitness is a significant aspect of all parts of my life. I am surrounded by it every minute of every day. It is more difficult to not be influenced by fitness than it is to be influenced by fitness. There is a point where you start to know your body so well that you know how your body will respond to a poor workout or poor foods or missing a couple of days of training. Fitness and Wellness is my life. I am wondering what I would be like it without it. I have a couple of major influences in my life. My dad taught me the importance of commitment and dedication at a really early age. My Mom and Dad worked really hard to make sure I had the best opportunity to succeed and worked really hard to make sure we lived comfortably. They spared no time or expense to ensure that I was the focus of their lives. My high school football coach and mentor Brad Johnstone was one of the biggest influences in my life. He taught me the importance of exercise and fitness in life. He was also one of the most influential people in my life in terms of attitude and character instilling values of hard work, dedication, commitment and confidence. He helped developed so many qualities that came from my parents. As I aged and achieved my parents pride continued to grow. They are still proud of me to this day and they are still proud of all of my achievements. My Mom and Dad never missed a game I played and my Dad never missed a hockey practice.

Nicholas with his Dad

I am an independent associate with USANA Health Sciences. USANA is the highest rated nutritional supplement in the world. I take a daily Health Pak (Chelated Mineral, Antioxidant, Calcium), Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Protein. Other than that I do not take any additional supplements. I no longer periodize my workout routines as I am out of the competitive stage of my life (from an athletics point of view) so now I typically lift 6 days a week but train 7 days a week. All of my training is functional with a focus on the core. I train from the inside out with a focus on improving strength and power from the core in order to improve strength and power through the peripheries. I typically train with a slow and controlled eccentric and a powerful concentric movement. I also always train with a movement perspective and utilize as many variables of instability as possible (stability balls, BOSU Balls, ViPR’s, Sandbells, TRX, Medicine Balls, Battling Ropes, Lifting Chains etc.). No matter what I do I work with supersets or compound set depending on the day, with 30 second to 1 minute rest periods. I also always try to incorporate 1 power day a week with Snatches, Deadlifts, Hang Cleans, Upper and Lower Plyos and Push Press. Basically, I hit every muscle group 2-3x in a 7 day period with some sort of circuit or split routine.  I am always experimenting. From a cardiovascular perspective, I run with my Golden doodles for 30 minutes every morning. Over the course of a week I teach one spin class, run 10km twice, do two sprint interval training sessions, and do two days of lower intensity, longer durations.

Nicholas with his Mom

I have USANA Nutrimeal for breakfast (15g protein, low glycemic and high fiber shake with fruits and yogurts), USANA chocolate and peanut butter bar and a banana. For lunch it varies. Sometimes a chicken wrap or sandwich and sometimes a salad and sometimes a protein shake or a chicken pita. Dinner is always depending on my days. I am always on the go. I work at the college as a professor, I still sell supplements on the side so I am busy with meeting with clients and I also still have my own clients on the side as well. I am typically up at 5am, run the dogs; train a couple of clients and on the road to work by 8. Work for the day, meet with clients at the end of the day or train more clients and then home sometime around 7pm.

My current fitness goals are to always challenge myself! I do not have a specific goal or a measurable goal but I push myself every day to be a bit better or try a new lift or run a longer distance or at a higher intensity. Whatever I am doing, I do not short it. I commit myself and everything I have into everything I do. That is what I pride myself on. I do not give up, I do not quit and I do not give 50% to anything.  There is no time like the present. The most difficult part is getting to the first meeting or session. I always refer to some motivational people when I need inspiration and Jim Rohn has some of the greatest sayings. Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. It is never too early or too late.

Take pride in everything you do. Live every day like it is your last. One thing I have learned is that only you can make the changes you need to be happy. Once you know what you need to do, work on making those changes for the better.

Yours in good health,



Twitter: nickjpetrella or

Website: (coming soon)

Facebook: Nick Petrella

  1. What really scares me here… is that you’ve only just begun!! Quite incredible. You’ve set the standard really high. Charles Poliquin autographed one of his books for me, and wrote inside three simple words, “learn and grow”. You’re a living example of that.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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