Nick Holt: Fitness is a State of Mind

Written by Marisol
WAYRA Instituto de Español

By Ellen Zoe Golden  Photos courtesy Nick Holt

Like others, Nick Holt moved to Costa Rica to change his life. Along the way, he improved his health, nutrition and physique, and started successful businesses with Julie Gohring, who became his wife. His in-person training, Nick Holt Fitness, and the couple’s Saltwater Fitness, an online coaching platform, are “where all the magic happens.”

His own workout regime of weight lifting and cardio is supplemented with surfing, tennis and yoga, to better his mind, body and spirit.

THE Tamarindo News caught up with Holt after a beach workout.

THE Tamarindo News: Talk about your early athletic life?

Nick Holt: As a kid, sports was everything to me. It was how I identified in the world and it gave me so much joy. My parents had to drag my brother and me off the field or court. It’s funny because my parents were not big athletes and never pushed it. But I had an early growth spurt and used that to my advantage excelling at tennis and basketball from a young age. By age 13-14, I was traveling around playing in junior national tennis tournaments, playing with the best basketball players in New York state. As I got older in high school, and competition got fiercer, coaches more serious, a lot of the joy was lost. The 6 a.m. workouts, the double workouts per day, the sacrifices to social life, the missing out of fun school breaks, all that stuff made me question the pursuit of being an athlete as a way to make a living. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It allowed me to get a 4-year degree at a top university that would have never happened if I didn’t get recruited to play college basketball. It also gave me incredible discipline that I’ve been able to apply in other areas of my life as I transitioned out of sports.

TTN: Why did you give up sports and go into finance?

NH: A crushing back injury playing high school football at 17 set me back and made me reevaluate things. I was sidelined for 6 months. It made me realize that everything can be taken away in a second. Life is precious. It opened my eyes to the perspective that there was so much more to life than just sports, that focusing on school would better prepare me for the real world. At university, I chose to study Economics as I thought it would best prepare me for the real world. I have an analytical brain and numbers come easy to me so it was a logical choice going into finance.

TTN: How did Costa Rica come about?

NH: Surfing was the big draw to Costa Rica. I met Joe Walsh, owner of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, through a mutual friend. We connected at a San Diego surf trade show, and 3 months later, I quit my finance job, sold all my stuff and moved to Costa Rica to follow my dream of living in a foreign country on the beach. I had never been to Costa Rica before but of course heard so many good things. It was an adventure I needed to go on. Joe showed me a path of success that was different than what I was exposed to in the corporate finance world. It had nothing to do with status, or making more money, it was a simple focus on a passion of surfing and the business followed from that. I helped Joe with various business projects and then started doing fitness-related classes at the surf camp. That was the beginning of Nick Holt Fitness, my in-person training business here in Tamarindo.

TTN: Why are you the trainer that someone needs?

NH: We all need coaches or mentors. We all have blind spots that we can’t see. For the guys that I work with online who are busy, stressed, and working in the corporate world, I get their struggle. I’ve been there. I’ve had to deal with the same stuff. I can relate. Because of this, I can help them figure out ways to get unstuck. I can help them find time to squeeze in workouts. I can help them find ways to make better choices when eating out.

TTN: How do you inform yourself about fitness and nutrition?

NH: It’s tough. Just like every other industry, the internet has completely transformed the fitness and nutrition space, both in good and bad ways. We have access to information about training, nutrition, recovery, sleep, supplements, genetics that we’ve never had access to. It’s pretty incredible. But at the same time, there’s a lot of bull**** out there. A lot of bad science. And a lot of self-proclaimed “gurus” using fear to profit off this bad science. The 2-year training to become a nutrition coach that I did with Precision Nutrition, a leader in the online nutrition space, gave me the tools to deal with all this information out there. For me, it’s about critical thinking. If someone makes a bold claim, what are the grounds for that claim? Is there legit evidence to back it up? Is there a study to back it up? Who’s funding the study? More importantly, are they selling something and maybe leaving out information that doesn’t support their claim?

TTN: You are your best example of how your philosophy works, right?

NH: I’m one example, I practice what I preach for sure and I feel good where I am right now at 38 years old, way more fit and healthier than I was 10 years ago. But I think as a coach, the best example is how well you can replicate results for others. At Saltwater Fit, we created the concept of Active Passion, the physical activity that you love to do that doesn’t take any motivation or willpower to do. For me, lifting weights and practicing yoga are there to compliment and elevate my surfing and tennis – my active passions. I lift weights to get stronger so that I can surf longer and play tennis better. I do yoga to become more flexible so that I surf better and become more agile on the court. I also love the mental aspect of both lifting and yoga. The discipline of showing up every day, putting in the reps, doing the work. There is no finish line. This thing called fitness is a lifelong journey.

TTN: How can you be reached?

NH: Reach out to me at nick@


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