Nearly 18 years ago Marcus Johnson swapped rendering walls as a plasterer for a rewarding career helping others achieve their goals as a personal trainer. Now he’s helping inspire the Sunshine Coast’s next generation of fitness experts as a teacher at TAFE Queensland’s Mooloolaba campus.
Marcus initially pursued a career running a plastering business alongside his father. But when an AFL injury forced him to take 15 weeks off for rehabilitation, Marcus found himself reassessing his goals.
“Being out of work for that long gave me plenty of time to think about what I really wanted to be doing, and it wasn’t plastering,” Marcus said.
“I’ve always had a passion for sport and health, and a friend of mine at the time was a personal trainer whose lifestyle really appealed to me.
“I also liked the idea of helping other people improve their lifestyles. As a personal trainer, you get to help people work towards and achieve their goals. You can help them move better, function better, and feel better in everyday life, which is a great feeling.”
With a new direction in mind, Marcus enrolled in a Diploma of Fitness and Recreation (now the Diploma of Sport Development (SIS50612)) through TAFE Queensland, kick starting his career as a personal trainer. After completing work experience in his first year, Marcus landed a job with a local gym.
Upon graduating, Marcus then scored roles as the strength and conditioning coach of the Sunshine Coast Power AFL representative team and as the fitness coach of the Caloundra AFL team. He even started his own successful business, Live It Up Personal Fitness, which he continues to run today.
Marcus then returned to TAFE Queensland as a tutor and spent four years supporting students looking to pursue a career in fitness, just as he did. It was a rewarding experience for Marcus, which ultimately inspired him to become a teacher. Now he helps pass on the skills TAFE Queensland gave him to aspiring personal trainers.
“I really enjoyed the interaction with the teachers when I was a student and it felt so great to experience that from the other side and give back as a teacher,” Marcus said.
“I just love seeing our students gain the knowledge they need to become great trainers.”
Marcus has now spent close to a decade helping kick-start the careers of hundreds of local and international students who all share one thing in common – a passion for health and fitness.
“Our students have gone on to do some incredible things, from starting gyms to launching their own successful personal training businesses,” Marcus said.
“We even had one student that went on to train Victoria’s Secret models in New York."
“That’s the best part of what I do – getting to see my students make a positive career for themselves and change not only the lives of their clients, but their own. From the beginning of their studies to when they graduate, you can see their confidence progress.”
Marcus’s classes offer highly practical training opportunities for his students, with TAFE Queensland working closely with industry and the community to provide students with experience working with real clients. These include the Sunshine Coast Council’s free Healthy Sunshine Coast program, various fitness challenges, and the special population and older adults program, which pairs students with members of the public that are older or experience disabilities.
“I take so much pride in seeing our students create these fantastic relationships with their clients and help them on their journeys,” he said.
“I’ve seen some amazing results come from these programs and for many of our students, the rapport they build with their assigned clients lasts long after their assessments end.”
According to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, the number of sports and fitness workers is anticipated to grow by 19.2 per cent nation-wide over the five years to 2023. With so many opportunities available, Marcus said there’s never been a better time to enter the industry.
“It requires a lot of hard work, but if you’re passionate about health and fitness, it’s not hard to succeed and it can be so rewarding,” Marcus said.