The quote on Maioro Barton’s business card is a perfect fit for him: “Dwell less on the disability and focus on the opportunities.” Maioro lives by this motto; as a mentor, public speaker, wheelchair basketballer, public figure and sports co-ordinator living with spina bifida. Fitness Journal’s Simone Ackermann caught up with Maioro as he adds bodybuilding to his list of accomplishments.
Over the last few months Maioro Barton’s physique has gone from ‘unrefined clay’ to sculpted muscle, as he has taken up the new challenge of bodybuilding.
Already a member of the Senior Waikato Wheelchair Basketball team, this new pursuit has seen him gain more size in preparation for his first competition; the New Zealand Wheelchair Bodybuilding Federation (NZWBBF) Online Showdown later this month (May 28).
The Cambridge local was initially reluctant when his trainer David Robson (founder and president of the NZWBBF) proposed the idea of bodybuilding. However, the hard training and impressive nature of the sport drew him in.
With two main sporting objectives now; bodybuilding and basketball, Maioro and David have had to make subtle adjustments to his training routine, in order to hone his physique for the online showdown. Departing from his standard sessions with David, the weights used have been increased and Maioro focuses on exercises specifically for bodybuilding.
The biggest adjustment and challenge though has been the change to his diet. He has had to up his protein intake, cut out fizzy drinks and be more consistent about his nutrition.
Three times a week he does weight training, splitting his time between the Fit Futures gym and the Cambridge Fitness Centre. On top of this he also has basketball training.
David says he is impressed by Maioro’s no excuses attitude.
“It is just total tunnel-vision,” says David. “It is the focus that impresses me.”
Although it will be Maioro’s first competition, he knows the preparation routine involved on the day of the competition; shaving, waxing, tanning and muscle flexing. The tan is known as “dream tan” and gives the skin an instant tan.
To get the muscles looking pumped, Maioro will “pump up” which involves doing three or four exercises to get the blood flowing.
“I love the pump,” Maioro jokes. “I would love to take out the event,” he says, although he would be happy to get a top three finish.
Maioro’s spina bifida has resulted in him being a wheelchair user. His spina bifida is a result of his spinal cord not being formed properly at birth. However, he has always focused on the opportunities rather than the hurdles.
Early on Maioro had ambitions to represent New Zealand and started off by playing wheelchair rugby.
“After a year of playing I was told I could not play internationally, because, pretty much what they said was, I was not disabled enough.”
To play internationally you are required to be quadriplegic, where all four limbs have impairment.
As a result he took up wheelchair basketball. He has now been a member of the Senior Waikato Wheelchair Basketball team since 1999 and has represented New Zealand in the Under 20 team.
In his final year with the Under 20 team, 2005, Maioro was vice captain. That year the team competed in the Junior World Championships and made it to the final against the United States.
This year, as part of the Senior Waikato Wheelchair Basketball team he will compete in the Northern League, consisting of four regional tournaments around the North Island, before going to the Nationals in Auckland in September.
As well competing in bodybuilding and basketball, Maioro works for Sport Waikato.
“My role is to get youth with disabilities involved in sport,” he explains.
He also works for the organisation, Seating To Go, as a mentor to teach wheelchair users the skills to handle their wheelchair confidently and independently.
With Maioro’s attitude and abilities, he is a perfect fit for this role.