On the road to success: how Matt overcame barriers to study

On the road to success: how Matt overcame barriers to study

“The hardest part is starting. Once you get that out of the way, you’ll find the rest of the journey much easier.” That’s author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek‘s quote, but it rings true for VFA fitness student Matt. He started the Diploma of Fitness earlier this year, and the obstacles he overcame to get here are truly inspirational.

Let’s rewind to 2015. Matt had been living in the fast lane, enjoying his career in motor racing when his life crashed into the barriers. Now he looks back on that time in his life with positivity and understanding.

“I had to step away from everything to fix myself because if I’m broken, I will not be good to anyone else. Things got terrible, especially after my relationship ended. I suffered depression.”

The snowball of mental health combined with stopping a career he loved and other health issues saw his weight hit 110 kilos. He has been diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), fibromyalgia and anxiety. He knew he couldn’t keep driving on the same road. He had to go in a different direction and make meaningful changes.

Pastoral care and personal connection

Matt is the first to admit his education in fitness and nutrition was limited. Then he watched a documentary, and his thinking started to change, and he became more proactive with his health.

He started with small challenges, like signing up for a park run, and he continued to challenge himself. Finally, he was making progress and was passionate about fitness, and that’s when he says other people started to notice.

“I had trainers and my osteopath and physio telling me I would make an excellent trainer. And that was when I got the idea in my head that I’d like to go in that direction, and now I’m here at VFA.”

During the first week of class, he approached fitness trainer Trent and had a long chat about his learning disability, health issues and barriers to starting the course. He says the staff have been fantastic at setting him up for learning success.

“I’ve never had support like this before in any learning or professional environment. So I’ve come in here, and I’ve been upfront with my struggles, and I’ve got support and offers of different ways they can help me with my study.”

“I’ve learned so much, and I’ve been able to take it in. So even with my fears and day-to-day battles, the support has really helped. I’m passing everything and kicking goals.”

Experiential learning helps students learn and succeed

Like many people, Matt has tried a few courses in the past without success. However, he says this is the first time he’s not missed a single class despite having days where he has found it challenging.

“My philosophy for this year is no matter how bad things get – especially with my social anxiety – I need to keep turning up because I’ve got confidence that VFA will support me, and everything will take care of itself.”

One of the unique benefits of studying at VFA is the hands-on learning we embed in our courses. People have different learning styles, and many learn best by doing. Our experiential learning delivery is a huge advantage, plus our students are taught by industry experts, have access to specialist guest presenters and go on regular field trips during their course.

On the right track to career success

So, how has the course helped Matt?

“Doing this course hasn’t just helped me professionally so far in getting new skills, but it’s also helped me get back on track with my life and health.”

It’s exciting times ahead for Matt. He says that he hasn’t felt this excited in a long time and feels confident and energised about the journey ahead. Of course, it also helps that he has support and wants to pay that forward and help others with his newly acquired skills and knowledge.

“Life’s hard. If you can help people get through the journey, that’s the reward itself.”

If you’re like Matt and have a passion for fitness but just need to get started, he highly recommends studying at VFA. And, if you have health issues or barriers that might stop you from applying, you’ll get the support you need. Contacting our team can set you on a new and exciting path.