“I hated how mundane and unrewarding my work life had become.”

From the Desk to the Gym

Denise Collman's job as a Systems Analyst had become dull and repetitive. After attending the Careershifters workshop, she decided to escape the desk job and become a personal trainer. She hasn't looked back since. Here's her story.

What work were you doing previously?

I worked as a systems analyst for a retail company.

What are you doing now?

I now work as a Personal Trainer, Health Mentor and Spin, Bokwa and CXWORX instructor at Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing.

Why did you change?

I hated how mundane and unrewarding my work life had become. I wasn't happy and had the opportunity to take the leap into something new!

Describe the moment you decided to make the change.

My cousin had moved to Australia and had asked me to visit for a holiday. As we started to plan, I realised that to do everything I wanted to do I would need longer than 2 weeks! So, I left my job and travelled around Australia and New Zealand for 3 months. When I got back, I decided it would be crazy to go back to work I didn't enjoy, so I looked for something more fulfilling.

Are you happy with the change?

I haven't looked back! I actually enjoy going to work now!

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

Sometimes I do miss having my evenings and weekends free. I definitely don't miss sitting in front of a computer all day, repeating the same tasks for months on end.

How did you go about making the shift?

I went to a Careershifters workshop while I was still at my old job and that sowed the seed for my change. It made me focus on two possible areas I could move into: graphic design or a fitness career. I completed an evening course for graphic design and illustration to see if I enjoyed it. The course was fun, but it made me realise that I didn't want to do it for a living. I then went travelling, and realised I really missed keeping fit and going to the gym. I had enough money saved from my job to put myself on a Personal Training Diploma course, landed my current job, and have gradually worked my way up the ranks!

How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?

When I came back from travelling, I temped in a local business to start earning money again. Once I had chosen the course I wanted, I left that job and just threw myself into it! I was lucky enough to be supported by my parents and my boyfriend so I could focus on my studies for a year.

What was the most difficult thing about changing? 

Moving into an industry that was completely different from what I was used to. Starting from scratch is hard, but it was also liberating and did wonders for my confidence!

What help did you get?

My family and friends all encouraged me to go for it. I also had support from some class instructors who I got to know through being a member of a gym. Their advice was some of the best I had.

How did the Careershifters workshop help?

It helped by making me realise that I wasn't alone in the way I felt. It also made me focus on the areas that were going to interest me most. It can be daunting, with so many options out there!

What have you learnt in the process?

Good things come to those who wait! It took time, research and listening to others to get me where I am now. Also, being willing to work hard and gain as much experience in your chosen field as possible really pays off!

What do you wish you'd done differently?

Nothing. It was a steep learning curve and it got me to where I am now! I don't even wish I had done it sooner. Working where I worked before has made me appreciate my work now. Even if I have a bad day, at least it's in a job I like, with people who share my interests.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

Get as much support around you as you can. Surround yourself with positive people! Make sure that you don't leave yourself or your family in any financial crisis. Do your research thoroughly and talk to as many people as possible within the industry you are wanting to move into. Then take that risk and do it!

What resources would you recommend to others?

Some might recommend books to read; I that found talking and listening as much as I could to people and getting their advice was the best resource!

What lessons could you take from Denise's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below. 

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.