We are incredibly pleased to welcome this months guest, Warren Hirst, founder of Defined Health, Australia. Warren takes us through his journey of reflection and self-development that has allowed him to live out his dreams…
I have been a professional in the health industry for 17 years. I first started out studying to be a fitness trainer in Vauxhall, London in 2002. Before I qualified, I was working in hospitality and fashion in Warwickshire but I was getting tired of the split shifts; serving and ordering booze all day, and the fashion work was too erratic to rely on and full of fake people. I needed a change. Once I qualified as a fitness trainer, I applied to get a job with a well known group of gyms in Solihull, near to where I was living. I didn’t get the job and returned home to Johannesburg, South Africa where I landed a job working for the very same group of gyms that I’d missed out on in the UK.
Working in one of Joburg’s upmarket suburbs in Sandton wasn’t quite what I had expected and I realised that I didn’t want to work in a gym. Where to from here? What did I want to do? I knew I wanted to stay in the health industry but I figured I wanted to do something more personal. I thought deeply and questioned myself about what I thought was important to me and I what I wanted from a career. A few things stood out:
- I wanted to help people in some way
- I did not want to be stressed at work
- I wanted to work in a healthy industry
- Eventually, I wanted to be able to work for myself
- I wanted work to be positive
I decided to pursue massage therapy. Where would I study… I had no idea!
I met an interesting Sydney sider whilst on holiday in Zanzibar and he suggested that I could begin learning massage in Thailand. I couldn’t think why Thailand would be the place but I began researching and, wow! Thai massage looked and sounded incredible, I had to check it out. Another buddy of mine had been to South East Asia and had taught English in Cambodia. He said that I should look into teaching abroad as a way of earning some cash while learning Thai massage. I did a short Diploma in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), packed my bags and left for Thailand to start a 2 week course in Chang Mai. A whole new world opened up to me! After completing the first course, I went on to train in Thai Massage. I needed to save money for more training so I started working as an English Teacher. I spent 4 months teaching at government schools and private language centres, zipping around on my motorbike. It was a unique experience that I’ll never forget.
Thereafter, I found more courses to learn from including Shiatsu and Reiki with an incredible teacher based on a remote retreat. It really opened up my eyes to a different understanding of health, wellbeing and compassion.
When I returned to Johannesburg, I soon discovered that people weren’t so familiar with Shiatsu and Thai Massage. I started a formal accredited course in sports massage which included more theory and luckily, the college where I studied was the preferred college for a company recruiting therapists for cruise liners. Straight after qualifying, I was put in touch with the recruiter and within 6 months, I was off to the training academy in London. A short time later, I was deployed to my first cruise ship in Miami. My cabin mate on the ship was an Acupuncturist from Australia who was extremely knowledgeable about anatomy and pathophysiology. He was ultra-inspirational and one hell of a top bloke! It was then that I decided to stay working on cruise ships for a few years, save some moola, head to India for a yogic experience, and then to Australia to study acupuncture; seed planted, goals set!
I went on to complete 5 contracts on cruise ships over 5 years visiting many places that I otherwise wouldn’t have got to; the Caribbean, Mexico, USA, Canada and South America. One of the most interesting places I worked at was in Zambia at Hippo Lodge on a safari reserve, providing massages for the guests. It was far from the commercialisation of many safari places, very wild but stunning.
Following this, I emerged myself into Iyengar Yoga and fulfilled my dream of 6 months travelling and practising yoga in India. I’m very passionate about Iyengar and I still practise this today, in-fact I’m busy with a teaching training course now.
In 2011, I arrived in Australia and started university at the age of 35, going on to successfully complete a bachelor of clinical science degree in acupuncture. Never in my life did I imagine that I would ever attend University! After completing my studies, I found myself a work sponsor in Ballina, described by the Aussies as the gateway to Byron Bay. In South Africa, I had grown up 600km away from the coast and I had always dreamed of living in a small coastal town, and here I was in Ballina, paradise! I worked as an employee for my sponsor for 2 years and then at his clinic as a self-employed therapist for another 2 years.
Last year, I took the plunge and found a shop space to rent and after 5 months of dealing with tradesmen, the council and various others, Ballina had the newest acupuncture and massage clinic, ‘Defined Health.’
If you have dreams or ambitions, keep them strongly in mind and they will manifest. We need to stay in touch with our physical, mental and spiritual health. Without our health, we are in the wilderness, spending our valuable time and resources trying to get it back. Remember, we’re not trying to stay healthy just so we can help ourselves but so we can help others too, who may be less fortunate and without the opportunities some of us have had.
If you ever come by Ballina, please call in, come and say hi! 😊