About Us

Steel Springs – the story behind the name

When we announced the name of our coaching business to friends and family we got some bemused looks.  In the names defence, we believe it’s catchy and in a roundabout way, summarised what we want to be to all our athletes.  We want to motivate you all to achieve all you can as an endurance athlete.

The name comes from a quote from the 1981 movie “Gallipoli” starring a young Mel Gibson.  The quote is as follows:

What are your legs?

Archy Hamilton
Springs. Steel springs.

What are they going to do?

Archy Hamilton
Hurl me down the track.

How fast can you run?

Archy Hamilton
As fast as a leopard.

How fast are you going to run?

Archy Hamilton
As fast as a leopard!

Then let's see you do it!

The quote is a motivational one intended to psyche Archy up before his race.  It’s relevance to the owners of Steel Springs coaching goes back to us using it on Toni Bradshaw before races back in the day.  Although a successful athlete who represented NZ on many occasions, pre-race nerves and doubts always surfaced before Toni’s big races.  When we started to quote the movie on one of these pre-race occasions, Toni hadn’t seen the movie.  We explained and when we restarted the quote: “What are your legs?”, Toni replied with a very timid “steel springs”.  Not really the reply as it was meant to be delivered, but it got a laugh.

Aaron Strong
 – started his passion for endurance sport in 1984 while at school.  Suffering from chronic Asthma as a child, a “radical” Doctor of the time suggested that some endurance exercise would be good for improving Aarons breathing.  Joining his parents on Saturday runs with the local Harrier club was where it all began.

After some slow progress for a few years, Aaron eventually started to compete in road races, cross country and track.  With a view to being more competitive at these events, Aaron enlisted the services of a coach and soon started to progress quickly, winning his first Auckland Cross Country title as a 17 year old.

It wasn’t until some time spent in Dunedin that Aaron realised a talent for running uphill which would see him specialise in Mountain Running.  Going on to represent NZ six times at the World Mountain Running Trophy and finishing 4th in 1996 were his highlights as a runner.  Pushing his body to the limit in the chase of a World title led to a pretty serious Achilles injury which cut short that dream.

Moving to cycling in 2001 as a means to rehabilitate following Achilles surgery, Aaron never ran competitively again, but instead found that his training in the mountains of Europe gave him some pretty good fitness for cycling, especially whenever the road tilted upwards.

Cycling career highlights include winning a stage of Tour of Southland and wearing the yellow jersey for two days.  Winning Tour of Tahiti in 2004.  Racing a year on the Australian professional cycling team – MG X Power.  2nd in the Oceania Games Time Trial.  NZ Time Trial Champ.  Multiple Auckland road and TT titles.  7 times NZ Age Group Time Trial Champion.

In 2007 Aaron joined an Auckland based Cycle coaching company as assistant coach.

Aaron didn’t want to be a coach who simply got his athletes to do as he had done.  He wanted to know the science behind the training and this is why he joined this particular company to take advantage of the huge knowledge of Amy Taylor.  Amy taught Aaron how to apply sports science theory to the coaching of individuals who all had different needs.

Through his experience as a coach, Aaron soon found that a similar thrill could be gained from his athletes winning as he used to get as an athlete himself.  “The buzz of seeing an athlete I have helped making fitness gains and getting satisfaction out of achieving their goals is what drives me nowadays.  I am continually looking to enhance my coaching knowledge in order to keep this improvement going.”

Aaron is well skilled in analysing Power files and training with Power on the bike, having attended training seminars on this specific skill by the guru of power analysis, Hunter Allen.  Using the powerful WKO+ analysis tool, Aaron is able to fine tune your training even further if you choose to train with power.

Toni Bradshaw – with a love and natural ability in all sports as a youngster, Toni found her direction heading towards endurance sports as a teenager where she took part in swimming and running events which naturally lead to her taking up Triathlon.

Toni represented New Zealand at age group level in Triathlon on three occasions before turning her attention fully to road cycling in 2001.

As part of New Zealands high performance road programme Toni spent the next 6 seasons racing Northern Hemisphere summers in either the NZ squad environment or on Professional Womens road squads.  The time competing in Europe and the USA have taught Toni a lot about what it takes to be the best.

In this time Toni has represented NZ at 4 World Championships where she was known for her selfless team work.  Toni was also part of a talented squad to race in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Road Race in 2006.  Under team orders to get in the early break, Toni did just that and was at the head of the race for over 90km, before the break was finally brought back close to the finish.

Toni is a qualified Physiotherapist and her knowledge of anatomy and its application to endurance sport is vast.

Currently coaching the highly successful St Cuthberts School Cycling team, Toni is keen to pass on her wealth of experience to cyclists and triathletes of all abilities and help them learn to be the best they can be.