What fitness qualifications do you hold?
I’m a qualified group exercise instructor and have done many courses, workshops and qualifications over the last 33 years. Many years ago you’d have to travel out of your area and spend time away from your family to attend courses, but now you can study online, which is wonderful.
Where do you live and work?
I live and work in the Hills District of Sydney. I teach my classes from a Community Centre in Carlingford.
What is your main role in the fitness industry?
My role is all about community. I’m very different from the gym scene. I don’t have memberships or joining fees. A lot of families cannot afford those, so I have casual class rates only. There’s a big demand for my classes, and I’ve been going strong since 1983.
How did you arrive at where you are today in your career?
I attended my first aerobics class at the opening of a brand new squash centre 36 years ago – and was offered a job! There were no qualifications needed in those days, so I accepted. Not long after, ACHPER began delivering training courses, and I enrolled straight away. It was there that I met Nigel Champion and Garry Egger. I told them I was not happy teaching at the gym. They saw the passion I had and Nigel suggested I should open my own business to teach the way I wanted. I was horrified at the thought but also excited. When the gym owner heard of my intentions I was fired on the spot. That made me more determined to begin my career. I thank Nigel for that advice he gave me all those years ago.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m up at 5:30am for a power walk around my neighbourhood, then come home to do a weights workout and have a protein banana shake before heading off to teach classes. I teach five days a week (all my classes are freestyle and I also instruct yoga), but not at weekends – that’s family time. I’ve been married to my wonderful supportive husband for 45 years. We have two children and two grandchildren. I began my career as a 35-year-old mum and am still teaching as a 68-year-old grandmother.
What skills are needed in your role?
Number one is compassion for others. You are not in this business to show off how fit you are or how good you look – it’s about teaching others how to lead a healthy lifestyle and change their lives. You also have to be friendly, approachable and a good listener. Also never stop learning. My passion is nutrition; I’ve done many courses on this subject and share my knowledge with my classes.
I could write a book about my 33 years in the industry – the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve formed. I have clients hug me and say my classes have saved their lives. Everyone at some time suffers anxiety and exercise is the best antidepressant available. I work with doctors, physios and health professionals who refer their patients to me.
What have been your greatest career challenges and highlights?
When I began my business all those years ago, I was terrified of failing. But from that day I’ve never looked back, only forward. I love my fitness life and I love my family life. I challenge myself every day and encourage my classes to do the same. People ask me when I will retire and I tell them ‘When my body tells me to.’
What motto or words of wisdom sum up your fitness/life philosophy?
I have so many! I’m a real believer in ‘You are what you eat’, but my favourite quote is ‘Nothing tastes as good as heathy does.’ I don’t believe in counting calories, just in eating well. I’m vegetarian, eat organic and don’t touch junk food, but I don’t tell everyone they need to be as strict as me – everything in moderation!
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