A beacon for human performance

09 Jun, 2022
A beacon for human performance

Helping people live longer healthier lives has been a lifelong quest for AUT alumnus and Los Angeles native Matt Kritz.

Currently a linchpin in the creation of a ground-breaking human performance institute at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), Matt has dedicated his career to developing elite athletes and optimising human performance.

From working with Olympic hopefuls and helping establish High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) through to co-founding companies that empower people to maximise their health and movement capabilities, Matt has played a pivotal role in shaping the future of sport.

As UCSD’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Performance and Wellness, he’s drawing on his decades of experience to develop “a beacon for human performance” unlike anything ever seen.

“My work at UCSD has two main drivers: to establish the safest, most effective way to develop athletes in a holistic integrated manner, and to build a centre of excellence that houses some of the most bold and innovative minds, inspired to develop a model for health that enables people to thrive not just survive,” explains Matt.

Not one to rest on his laurels, he has also recently launched a company ‘Thrivata’ (your thrive data) which helps people understand how ready they need to be to face their daily demands, based on their mind, body and energy competency. He reckons it’s his most exciting project to date because of the impact it will have on improving people’s health across their life span.

Both Thrivata, and his trailblazing work at UCSD, have their roots firmly in New Zealand. The PhD in Sport and Recreation Matt gained from AUT (with invaluable support from Professor John Cronin) supplied the ideal springboard for success.

“AUT provided an incredible opportunity for someone like myself. By the time I’d finished my PhD I’d helped build what is now HPSNZ, supported several of New Zealand’s top athletes and national teams as their strength and conditioning coach, and helped establish strength and conditioning as a viable and lucrative profession in New Zealand.

In all, AUT was the catalyst for me to become a high-performance sport specialist in the area of athlete development, and I continue to build on that experience.”

Having worked off and on for UCSD since 1999, returning to the university as Senior Associate Athletic Director in 2019 was “a dream come true”.

“It has allowed me to apply the learnings I acquired while in New Zealand getting my PhD and working for HPSNZ to a NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division 1 university sports department.

Not only that, but it’s a great opportunity to showcase how well New Zealand develops athletes and how their coach-led, athlete-focused and performance-driven ideology can create winners in any sporting environment.”

There’s no doubt Matt has achieved an incredible amount for the elite sports sector and human health generally. But the rewards he has gained personally are also significant.

“I’ve helped thousands of athletes achieve and they’ve helped me be a better me. I’ve helped a country improve its Olympic infrastructure and a world leading university develop its foundation for holistically developing scholar-athletes. I’ve worked with hundreds of inspiring professionals from whom I’ve begged, borrowed and stolen everything I know about human performance. My career isn’t over yet and I have a hell of a lot of very cool memories!”

Read more inspiring alumni stories

This story was originally published in Insight, the magazine for AUT alumni and friends. Read the most recent issue of Insight for more stories of groundbreaking research and great AUT graduates who are making a difference around the world.

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