SCMP Saturday, September 15, 2001

How to stay in shape by climbing the career ladder


Name: Susie Misini.
Job: Director, New York Fitness, Hollywood Road, Central.
What are your reflections on school? I played piano from a young age and through it I got a scholarship into one of the best schools in Melbourne, the University High School. Although I was talented at the piano, my academic skills were average, so this school wasn't easy for me. It was very competitive. There were students in my class up to three years younger doing the same work, and better.
How did you cope? I wasn't discouraged and it made me more determined to do well. I kept a strict regime and got up very early, around 5am, and went to private piano practice before going off to school. I also worked part-time as a music teacher when school ended, after which I'd study until whatever time I could.
What happened after school? I decided not to do a music degree because I didn't want to become a secondary school music teacher, which is probably where that would have led. Also, after getting my associate diploma in piano I was already well qualified to teach in a private school, which I did for a year.
When did you start fitness training? I'd loved dancing since I was a little girl, and started getting into fitness and aerobics training more seriously in my final year at secondary school. I went to college and got a certificate in "exercise training through music", and when I was about 18 I started giving aerobics classes part-time, just for fun.
Did you study fitness at university? Yes, I got a certificate in fitness instruction through part-time study at the Swinburne University in Melbourne. At this point it was just a backup to my music teaching, which was still my main source of income.
When did fitness training become your main job? It was a gradual process, but when I came to Hong Kong at the age of 26 in 1994 the fitness side became more focused. I started doing a lot of personal training, though I carried on with piano tuition for some time.
What courses would you recommend? If you recognise your interest early enough, do a degree in physical education, or similar, at university. Or, you can take the private route with a school like the Asian Academy for Sports and Fitness Professionals, where many of my staff train.
Have you studied business management? I've learned most of it on the job. I read more now than I ever did at school, especially books or magazines which advance my knowledge of this industry.
Has business management taken over from training? I still teach a couple of classes a week and train a few clients individually, but most of the day is devoted to running the business, supervising staff and planning the future.
Are you studying anything now? Fitness training certification needs constant revision and upgrading, keeping up with developments and so on, so in a sense I'm always studying. If I had more time I'd like to focus on languages, Italian and Cantonese, and an MBA could prove useful.
Any advice? Take some time out in the "real" world and get work experience for a year or two when you're still young, before your education is over, because at 16 or 17 most of us have no idea of what we want to do.