When an AFL player hangs up the boots, there’s any number of paths he can travel down next. For Tim Hazell, those paths took him through foreign jungles and up volcanoes and five-kilometre-high mountain ranges.
The former Hawthorn and Adelaide player, turned player manager, often travels abroad to tackle notorious landmarks with his clients from ProSport Health and Fitness.
Hazell after running the New York Marathon
Along with ProSport co-founders Tim Strap and former AFL player Tom Allwright, Hazell currently trains more than 200 clients per week in sessions that include running, boxing, outdoor fitness, strength sessions, altitude sessions and travel adventures – both within Australia and around the world.
Through the ProSport programs, Hazell has been up both Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest, run the New York Marathon, climbed volcanoes in a boot-camp-style Bali trip, and has completed the Kokoda Trail an astonishing number of times.
“I’ve done Kokoda 11 times, been up Kilimanjaro and Everest, and done our Bali Boot Camp 10 times,” Hazell says.
“I try to keep myself fairly fit because the clients are sort of expecting us to do it with ease, so having a high level of fitness is crucial for the job.
“I love routine and I reckon having a football background engrains that healthier lifestyle. I still enjoy myself but also like feeling fit, training, and releasing those endorphins… It’s a bit work-driven but mainly routine and lifestyle.”
The 33-year-old recently opened a high performance centre in Richmond for his ProSport clients; the centre includes a ten-person altitude chamber, ice bath recovery rooms, and areas for boxing as well as strength and conditioning circuits.
But Hazell’s focus has broadened beyond ProSport in recent years, as he takes up greater roles at athlete management company Velocity Sports.
“After about four years Alastair Lynch came to me from Velocity Sports and wanted me to be our Melbourne-based athlete manager,” he explains.
“I split my time between the two, which is probably more Velocity based with the boys [Tom Allwright and Tim Strap] growing the ProSport arm of the businesses… Velocity is my main focus.”
After playing five AFL matches in a career that finished in 2004, Hazell found work reasonably quickly. He admits though, that his transition out of the game proved more difficult than he thought.
“Initially it was really tough and I was a little lost. I did my fitness and business management course just after I finished playing at the AFL so I went straight into doing personal training and then into ProSport health and fitness. I was really lucky to have a great mentor and manager in Peter Lenton who made that transition a lot easier,” he says.
“YOU GO FROM STRUCTURE, ROUTINE AND HAVING EVERYTHING DONE FOR YOU TO SUDDENLY NO STRUCTURE, NO ROUTINE AND NO ONE THERE FOR YOU” TIM HAZELL
“But it’s definitely eye opening because you go from structure, routine and having everything done for you to suddenly no structure, no routine and no one there for you.
“You go from getting paid and playing the sport you love to suddenly getting that taken away from you. It’s a bit of shell-shock and I think it’s the hardest thing any footballer goes through.”
Ten years has passed since Hazell played footy at the elite level, but he’s certainly not just putting his feet up in retirement. The Tasmanian recently completed one of the most physically demanding challenges known to man.
“I did an iron man this year. I can honestly say that’s the hardest day I’ve ever had,” he chuckles.
“I signed up with Tommy Allwright and we trained for over eight months and competed. It was pretty epic physically and also mentally.
“I had a few of the current AFL boys who came to watch and support and even those boys were saying ‘what were you thinking?’
“That was definitely the hardest event I’ve ever done.”
But Hazell has strong willpower, and a knack of accomplishing what he sets out to achieve. It’s something he tries to pass on to the athletes he works with as part of his role at Velocity Sports.
“From a player manager’s perspective… I try to give them those experiences of what to expect when entering and also exiting the AFL [and how to deal with those challenges when they arise].