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Ninko Pangilinan—Alumni, Entrepreneur, Cancer Survivor


Ninko Pangilinan graduated from the Kinesiology Program at the University of Guelph-Humber; started his own fitness company; and the biggest challenge of all, he survived cancer. 


Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 22, Ninko is now cancer-free and is committed to giving back to the community by holding fitness boot camps with proceeds going toward Sick Kids Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society.   

Ninko enrolled in the first graduating Kinesiology class at the University of Guelph-Humber in 2010, following completion of the Fitness and Health promotion diploma. During his final year of university, he started a personal-fitness, training company in his basement that exploded in popularity.  He risked everything to acquire a prime, indoor location in downtown Brampton for the winter and won the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Fitness Centre in Brampton. 

In June 2011, fate threw a wrench into Ninko’s plans when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during an annual medical checkup. “I was 22 years old. That hit me really hard. The business was in debt and I couldn’t train because I had surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.”

 A friend and fellow trainer was able to take over Ninko’s business during his illness and towards the end of treatment they decided to expand.  They opened Nitro Fitness Mississauga. “However, I was still not healed mentally after such a traumatizing ordeal,” Ninko says.  He moved to Vancouver to recuperate.  “We had to close down the first gym and had to fight to keep the second one open.” Eight months later a healthy and rejuvenated Ninko moved back to Brampton and opened another location with his partner. 

Fate intervened a second time. 

“The very first day we opened up the brand new facility for business,  I was involved in a terrible car accident that left me dazed and asleep for the next five days,” says Ninko. “They told me they had to use the Jaws of Life to free me from the car.  I’m currently still recovering, doing physiotherapy, and seeing a psychologist and occupational therapist once or twice a week.”

The good news is, this story has a happy ending. Ninko is a now a new father, cancer-free and business is booming. “We are hiring more trainers and it’s only going to get bigger. We are a results-oriented, family-friendly facility offering boot camps and personal training. We specialize in sports training and are currently working with The Brampton Blasts soccer team as well as a few professional basketball players.”    

fitness training workout

Ninko shares his message of hope with Humber students, “My main message is to never quit or give up on your dreams. If you want something, go and get it.  Life goes on. I have those words on a tattoo on my forearm.”

Ninko Pangilinan humber graduate

Ninko Pangilinan gives back to the hospital that helped him beat cancer.