After moving to New Zealand from Ukraine, English Language Partners’ Work Talk class helped personal trainer Natalia Hrybko find the confidence to pursue her passion.
From the moment you first meet Natalia, her confidence and energy are obvious. What’s also obvious is that the personal trainer loves what she does.
But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, if Natalia hadn’t joined English Language Partners’ Work Talk class her life might have taken a very different turn.
Having first arrived in New Zealand as a tourist, Natalia later returned to our shores a number of times on short-term visits before ultimately deciding to settle down in Auckland with her Kiwi partner.
Now, despite missing family and friends, she says the country is firmly where her heart is, and she is proud to call New Zealand home.
Having worked as a successful lawyer back in Ukraine, Natalia knew that the challenges of a different language and legal system meant continuing with her former career here would be difficult. Fortunately, she was also ready for a lifestyle change.
“I love law,” she says. “But at the same time, there’s also a lot of stress.”
Initially planning on finding work as a travel agent, Natalia enrolled in Work Talk classes to learn more about how to find a job in New Zealand. The course teaches vital skills such as how to prepare for job interviews, while also providing information about practical matters such as taxes and KiwiSaver.
In class, Natalia wrote a CV and cover letter based on finding work as a travel agent.
But teacher Jan Scott, aware that Natalia was giving the occasional lesson as a personal trainer, noticed the enthusiasm she had for that work and encouraged her to consider pursuing her passion.
“She didn’t tell me ‘Okay, you have to do this’,” says Natalia. “She just said ‘Okay, listen, these are the pluses, these are the minuses, so what, for you, is the best option?’”
After thinking deeply, Natalia decided to take the plunge and become a personal trainer, and she hasn’t looked back. She describes joining the course as “destiny”.
“I never stop thanking my teacher,” says Natalia.
“This course changed my life.”
Now, she can’t imagine doing anything different. “If I was in a travel agency, I would never be a trainer. I would be sitting in an office and doing this work and feeling pain in my back, like when I was a lawyer, and not be happy. I’d come home late and be in traffic because it was in the city. These are all things I don’t like.”
Her new life offers more flexibility and feels less like work and more like fun. “It’s my hobby, so if you see me I’m happy.”
And clients and those in the industry have responded to her passion and positive energy. As well as continuing to teach her private clients, Natalia recently signed on to work at a leading Auckland gym. Her new position involves working at a state-of-the-art ’virtual fitness facility’ at BlueFit gym in Orewa.
And it’s not just a love for working out that drives Natalia. For her, being a personal trainer is just as much about the people as it is about the weights.
“There’s much more between us. They share stories, and I share stories. It’s a friendship. I’ve made friends there.” But it’s not all chat and laughs, she says. “I’m strict, but people like that. I push them. I’m sort of a killer,” she jokes.
Natalia says the best part of her job is seeing the positive effect getting fit can have. “I like when I change people’s lives, when I see that people are very motivated, inspired by me.”
Although Natalia loves spending time in the gym, she also loves spending time outdoors, playing volleyball and hiking with friends. Living in Orewa, close to both the beach and her workplace, she says the balance is just right.
Her long-term dream is to own her own gym, one that reflects her style of work: where relationships with people are just as important as the training.
“I have my clients, I have my job and I have my family. I’m very happy.”
Writer James Fyfe | Photos Julie Zhu
- 48-hour intensive course (flexible hours)
- Learn how to approach employers
- Learn to tailor your CV for specific job applications
- Prepare and practise for job interviews
- Develop your professional networking skills
- English level – Intermediate and above (confident users of English)
- Qualified teachers
- Small classes
- Fees may apply. Ask at your centre.
- In all centres (except Taupo, Marlborough, Auckland Central & West, Porirua and Southland.)