Fitness education is a cornerstone of the development of the role of fitness professional. Entry level qualifications offer prospective trainers and instructors a sound footing on which to determine their own training philosophy and career direction, alongside a plethora of continuing education options. For more experienced fitness pros, an eagerness to share their knowledge and skills with the next generation of trainers leads many to consider moving into education.
We asked National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Manager of fitnessU, Paul Bulatao (a.k.a. Paulie B), for the low down on what it’s like to marry a love of fitness with the structure of VET.
‘VET Manager’ – that title sounds more like animal-oriented work than adult education. What does your job involve?
I look after the college’s operations from student enrolments and education support, designing and creating the content, adhering to government-set standards, leading the education and support team and managing the mentoring program (with 130+ Pro-Trainers who mentor our students), and I also look after the three qualifications that we offer.
How long have you been working in the fitness and Vocational Education and Training (VET) industries?
I’ve been in the fitness industry for 12 years and have also worked in VET for the past 8 years with colleges such as Open Colleges, ACPEA – Study Group, and FIA Fitnation – Endeavour Group.
How do you spend your weekends?
Each Saturday I teach my regular cycle class at Fitness First Kings Cross in Sydney, followed by brunch and then, a little later on, the most amazing, deep arvo nap. Do I sound really old? Lately I’ve been finding that doing absolutely nothing on the weekends has been such a treat!
Other than that, I love Olympic lifting, dining out, art and fashion, interior design, and I’m obsessed with collecting Swiss watches. I also have 3 ‘furbabies’ – a chocolate Labrador, a cavoodle and a groodle.
Do you have any special training that has prepared you for your career?
Other than my fitness qualifications, I hold a double Diploma in Vocational Education and Training which is essential in a role such as mine. It was a very painful qualification to attain but has helped me so much when it comes to complying with all the government regulations.
Being active within the industry is also essential so you are able to understand the ever-changing landscape of fitness and the skills required to be current.
What's the next skill or knowledge set you want to add to your repertoire to make you a better VET Manager?
Currently I am studying my Advanced Diploma of Leadership Management as well as the Diploma of Leadership, Coaching and Mentoring. The former will help me with the skills of leading a successful business commercially, and the latter with focusing on people and leading staff for better results.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to get involved in fitness education?
Complete your Certificate IV in Training and Assessment first (as well as your fitness qualifications of course!) Working in VET can be a structured and demanding environment so it’s not for everybody. Having said that, it’s incredibly satisfying seeing the results of the work – happier and more competent students, and more satisfied external stakeholders in the wider fitness industry.