Niël Hamman from Stellenbosch in the Western Cape is something of a feature in this town.
But this bodybuilder is quick to point out that there’s more to him than his six-pack abs, bulging biceps and muscled legs: Niël is in the process of becoming a lawyer.
Though Niël, a former Paul Roos Gymnasium learner, is focused on his physical appearance, he believes the same discipline that made him a successful bodybuilder is what’s helping him on his path to a career in law.
“I think people are surprised when they find out I’m studying law. They struggle to reconcile my seemingly unrelated two passions.
“But there are similarities. With law, I want to help people who are in difficult situations and with bodybuilding, I can help people by inspiring them to live healthier and gain self-confidence.”
After matriculating, Niël started out studying a BA degree at Stellenbosch University but switched to a course in project management. He’d always been into sports in school and played rugby. Early on in his studies, Francois Retief, a biokineticist and Niël’s personal trainer from his schooldays, made him aware that it’s best to approach training in a gym with goals and insight.
“You need to realise you’re training some muscles in your body for better functioning and that’ll you’ll see results if you’re committed on a daily basis,” Niël says.
This insight and self-discipline trickled into his professional life and he realised he wanted to have a career in law.
In the meantime, he’s participating in bodybuilding competitions at an amateur level, and was often placed in the junior top three. Now, he participates in the junior category and is confident his results will improve the longer he practises the sport.
His goal is to compete professionally.
Niël spends five to six days a week in the gym and follows a healthy eating plan. “It’s a lifestyle and needs to be sustainable.”
When he’s competing, he weighs around 90kg and outside of competition season he weighs between 98 and 102kg.
His diet includes foods such as oats, chicken breasts, nuts, avocados, sweet potatoes and rice.
He says his girlfriend, Lizzie Kotze, has learnt to be patient when he’s preparing for a competition because he can’t just eat what he wants in a restaurant.
“She’s very supportive,” he says.
(Pictures: Henk Oets Photography)