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Philip Sherriff – On Overcoming Adversity….

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Written by Kristine Beissner

January 2, 2020

News | Testimonials

Philip Sherriff Fitness Institute

Having already achieved many personal and professional goals, Head Trainer, General Manager and part owner of Fitness Institute, Philip Sherriff has a keen interest in seeing others succeed.

Whilst Philip’s Bio details his experiences as a Trainer in Townsville and Canada, his time as assistant coach for WNBL team Townsville Fire and eleven years as an IT Manager, it does not capture what drives him. When Philip took on the Training / Managerial role at the Fitness Institute in 2014, he admits he had a lot of learning to do – so he learned on job and from the people around him. The business needed efficient, technology driven systems to grow as an online training provider and this was something he excelled at.

What people see today as a fully established provider of Sport, Recreation, Fitness and Weight Management qualifications, delivering training Australia wide, has not come without its challenges, especially considering that at a critical stage of the project, Philip discovered he had a life-threatening medical condition.

Talking about his bowel cancer diagnosis in 2015 the toll it has taken is clear to see, even though he is happy to discuss it. Initially putting the symptoms he was experiencing down to a change of eating patterns, Philip demanded a colonoscopy after seven visits to the doctors failed to provide answers. The words “There is no easy way to say this, we have found bowel cancer”, seem as clear today as when they were first spoken by his doctor.

Even though the challenges of starting a new business provided some distraction, the three months following the diagnosis proved trying. Philip believes himself lucky to live in the same city as a specialist surgeon who performed the keyhole surgery that prevented the need to cut sternum to waist and risk permanent disability. “Every challenge I have had in the past has helped me deal with what I faced during and after treatment.” Philip said, “From that first piece of bad news, almost everything that came after was good news and a big relief each tome. What I had to go through is minimal compared to what others have to deal with.”

Determined to share the lessons he had learned, Philip agreed to appear on a 2015 Channel Seven news story, sharing his experiences and raise awareness of Bowel Cancer month.

Philip’s partner Debra was with Philip at his diagnosis and remembers being sent away not knowing much about cancer. Debra remembers the questions people asked for which there were no answers like “Why Philip?” and “How could this happen to someone so focused on health and fitness?”

“We chose to be positive and organised, almost procedural in our approach.” said Debra, “After the surgery, when the doctor said they had it all, we learned that if it had been undetected any longer, it would have gone into the lymph nodes.”

Ask Philip how he deals with challenges, he will tell you that even when upset he tries to overcome awkwardness and get through it.

Ask Philip what he has learned about being in business, he will tell you he doesn’t delegate enough.

Ask Philip how he wants others to see him, he will tell you he wants to be perceived as good, honest, polite, hard working, respectful, helpful and only seeing the good in people.

Ask others what they think of Philip and they will tell you exactly the same things.

Philip has been instrumental in taking Fitness Institute through three significant phases of growth over a three year period. Starting in a small converted cycling studio with 3 staff delivering face to face courses, then a larger converted cycling studio with 9 staff delivering face to face adult learning and school programs as online nationally, Fitness Institute’s current location (as of December 2016) is the top two floors of an iconic, heritage building in the main street of the CBD.

An advocate for outreach programs, Philip regularly organises opportunities to talk to people about health and fitness and volunteers for local charities. Fitness Institute Director Dean Bodle says “Philip Sherriff brought Fitness Institute to a new level when he came in as RTO Operations Manager in May 2014 and co-owner in June 2015- our RTO would not be where it is today without his expertise in technology bringing the potential of completing our courses to every gym and  computer in Australia.”

At present, over 64% of the Australian population is overweight and Philip enjoys seeing students help their clients achieve composition and fitness goals, both during and after achieving their qualification.

Philip’s advice to all students to stay true to their dream of becoming a Personal Trainer. For those worried about the prospect of work after graduation, if you work hard, organise clients well, are willing to wake up early and make the necessary sacrifices – a career in sport, fitness and recreation is a very achievable goal. Don’t take any days for granted, while you have your health and fitness – it is a privilege to be in a position to be able to coach others…

Phil’s philosophy, can also be summed up in his favourite quote…“What I don’t know I’ll learn. What I ain’t got I’ll earn.” – Edmund Rice

As well as these three quick Q & A’s…..

Q1. What drew you to the Fitness industry or what do you love the most about the Fitness Industry? 
The positive nature of the Fitness Industry is what drew me in. Being around happy, like minded people made me want to me around these people more often. 
Q2. Who or what inspires or motivates you and why?   
Anyone who makes the most of any opportunity will always inspire me. We have so many opportunities here in Australia regardless of your current position. If you’re willing to put in the hard work and put aside your excuses, it’s amazing what is possible.
Some of our students manage to work through anything from financial hardship to having physical disabilities to then training others – it’s amazing what some of our students and their clients have now achieved. 
Q3. What is your favourite fitness, sport and/or recreation activity?  
I grew up playing Rugby Leave, Athletics, Basketball and Table Tennis. I now focus on Gym and CrossFit as my main 2 sports and activities. 

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