BEN COOPER, PT & GENERAL MANAGER, VIC
What fitness qualifications do you hold?
I have my Certificate III and IV in Fitness, as well as a BA. This combination enables me to support a strategic approach to industry issues.
Where do you live and work?
I’m a Tasmanian who lives and works in bayside Melbourne.
What is your main role in the fitness industry?
General Manager of fitness industry peak body Physical Activity Australia (PAA). I also maintain a small outdoor personal and group training business, and am a musician in my ‘spare’ time.
How did you arrive at where you are today in your career?
About five years ago I had a career change, pursuing my passion for health and fitness by becoming a personal trainer. Wanting to contribute more to the industry, I applied for the General Manager role with PAA, as it seemed like the perfect way to draw together my management and PT skills. I also value maintaining my work as a trainer, which keeps me in touch with our members.
What does your typical day look like?
My PAA work usually involves meetings with related organisations and industry partners, and presentations to students. I often train small groups or individual clients around my PAA commitments, and also go to the gym or do boxing training most days.
What skills are needed in your role?
The ability to communicate, empathise and build genuine relationships is vital in every aspect of my work life. I believe that good leadership means collaborating with the whole team, valuing all members and drawing on their strengths to compliment and support your own.
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
Engaging with great people from across the industry. We have a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and collectively improve. The biggest challenge is managing our interactions with competing interests in the industry. It’s a juggling act, but we enjoy strong relationships with many stakeholders.
What’s your main focus now and what are your goals for the future?
My current focus professionally is to continue to contribute to fitness industry standards, work to better support members and maintain a continual improvement and consultative approach to our work. In the longer term, I plan to work in a space that draws together my passions for helping people and engaging people in physical and mental wellbeing. These areas are so important in sustaining quality of life and so rewarding to be involved with.
My other focus is recording music that I have written, and which should be released any day now – it’s incredibly exciting that it’s finally coming to fruition.
I’m also planning a European kite surfing, touring holiday which is another immediate and exciting goal that I’m looking forward to ticking off my list. The balance between creative, active, social and professional is incredibly important to me and I work hard to make sure I don’t let that balance slip.
Who has inspired you in your fitness industry career, and why?
My clients. I have the privilege of working with great people, like my client who had not participated in exercise in many years and was very unhappy with her physical condition. She bravely decided to overhaul her way of life, with the goal of walking the challenging 7-day Overland Track in Tasmania. Done! She followed that up with two half marathons and continues working hard. Physically and mentally her approach to life has changed dramatically and her determination and courage is truly inspiring.
What words of wisdom sum up your fitness/life philosophy?
Be authentic; we have two ears and one mouth – use them accordingly. Be kind and generous to yourself and others.
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