It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I decided to start my own coaching and PT business. So much has happened in these last 12 months, both personally and professionally.
Apart from venturing out on my own, I also became a dad! Our little Ash is now 8 months old. I never realised that being a parent could be so difficult yet amazing and rewarding at the same time.
I also received my brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), a martial art that keeps me sane, yet drives me insane at the same time! For me BJJ is a true outlet, and the fact that I don't teach it ensures that it's the one place where I am truly able to switch off the teaching part of my brain, and just learn.
I've now worked and trained in the fitness and martial arts industry in Canberra for more than a decade, and have had the opportunity to learn from some really talented folks in all kinds of gyms.
There are so many experiences that have led me to this point; starting the first Capoeira classes in Canberra back in 2000; training people with physical and mental disabilities; and coaching alongside professional athletes with backgrounds in power lifting, football, athletics, and gymnastics.
In thinking about these wide ranging experiences through my 20s and 30s, I can't help but reflect on where my own passion for movement and exploring my physicality began.
I was born here in Canberra in 1979 (yep, now you know my age), and was raised by my mum and uncle. Mum's family moved from Vietnam to Canberra in the early 70s during the Vietnam war, and my dad was apparently Italian, although I never knew him.
I grew up in one of the housing commission blocks on Northbourne Ave, where I spent most of my spare time playing out in the street behind our flat with other kids. I remember games of cricket, soccer, and basketball almost every afternoon.
As the sun would go down, our family members would inevitably start calling out our names to go inside for dinner, but we'd always stay out there as long as we could, without getting into real trouble!
When I think about our little Ash and the world that he's growing up in, I want to set an example, and make sure that he spends as much time as possible playing, taking risks (hopefully not really big ones), and testing the boundaries of his body.
When I was a teenager in the 90s, I (along with the rest of the world it seemed) became obsessed with martial arts. My bedroom walls were piled high with magazines, posters and VHS tapes featuring Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Dam, and Jackie Chan - all the good stuff ;)
My friends and I would spend every waking moment when we weren't at school (although sometimes that's where we should've been) watching Chinese martial arts films, and practicing all the moves in the park.
We would literally jump off rooftops onto old mattresses to teach ourselves acrobatics and tricks, fly kick brick walls, and spend countless hours training ourselves in our backyards.
My first formal introduction to martial arts was when I studied Wushu with the talented Sifu Jinju Liu, which then lead me to Capoeira. You can read all about that part of my story in another blog post. But apart from fancy moves, this early martial arts experience taught me some fundamental lessons that I still carry with me and draw on today.
For example, my personal training clients and Capoeira students know all too well that while I'm there to guide them, they are responsible for carving their own path to better health and fitness. I'm there for a small percentage of their free time each week, so it's up to them to develop the habits and lifestyle in order to reach their goals.
Over the years many people have made comments to me about my physical abilities as being "natural talent" or attributing them to my genetic makeup. But I can tell you that everything I can do now is a result of persistent, consistent and methodical training.
This doesn't mean that I spend hours and hours in the gym, it means I've incorporated good movement patterns, healthy eating habits, and movement exploration into my day to day life.
But above all else, I am always learning ways to improve what I do in my own training, as well as how I coach others.
One of the things I most love about what I do is having the opportunity to train so many different people, from all walks of life, with all kinds of goals, aspirations, and needs. I'm really looking forward to what the next 12 months has in store for me!