Find your own path: From farm girl to fitness guru
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Taking a leap of faith from farm to fitness.
Caroline Gaston had been living life on a farm in Australia before she decided to pursue her passion for fitness. A week at a fitness camp in Thailand proved to be the catalyst for an unlikely career change.
Although she's still involved with farm life, she has since gone on to become an established fitness guru and lifestyle coach. We contacted her to chat about how she ended up following her dream and writing a brand new chapter in her life.
Did you always want to be involved in the fitness world?
I have been particularly interested in keeping active and leading a happy, healthy, balanced lifestyle for most of my life. A part of growing up in the country had a massive influence on this. I also believe it is of extreme importance to one’s mental health. So naturally, the health and fitness industry has always been of interest to me. However, it took me longer than I thought to enter the fitness world itself.
Timing, self-doubt, the fear of going back and studying - there were numerous variables that I kept telling myself that stumped my progress. Lifestyle choices like living in rural areas also contributed to this. With a severe lack of access to gyms and fitness establishments, there was still so much for me to learn. With the beauty of online education, however, I was finally in a circumstance that allowed me to take the leap I always intended to make.
What made you step away from the farming industry?
Luckily for me, I haven’t in fact had to step away completely. Since our move to Wagga Wagga NSW, and the acquirement of a new family farm, I still go out twice a week to help where I can. Being only half an hour from where I reside, I still like to divide my time between being an F45 trainer, studying my Diploma in Nutrition and spending time with my family on the farm. I have the best of both worlds now and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I have always, and will always be, a country girl at heart.
How did your fitness career come about?
Ironically, I was at a point in my life where societal expectations had me experiencing anxiety. Somehow, I let myself believe that I was at an age where I was meant to be settled down, that is, married, kids planned for the near future, have my career figured out and the big old house to share with my family. Well, all I had was the house, ha! So, for me, the career was the next thing to pursue. I wanted to truly find what I was passionate about and go at it full speed, no more excuses.
So, off I went to Thailand, for probably one of the strangest birthday presents that you could give yourself - a week at a fitness boot camp. It was absolutely phenomenal. I felt so inspired by the people that I met, from all over the world. I loved hearing their stories, and how exercise made them feel so much better about themselves, on the inside and out. I felt so strongly about people realising how healthy is not just about having a ‘good body’ but it’s also a state of mind, what you’re thinking, feeling, and saying.
It was from this that I realised becoming a personal trainer would be the perfect fit. I love being active, helping others be active and reaching their full potential. I wanted to help people realise that health is not a fad, but it’s a lifestyle. As soon as I touched back down on Australian soil, I signed up to do my Certificate in Fitness and a Diploma in Nutrition (non- clinical) through AIPT.
What are the pros and cons of being fitness guru?
Being involved in an industry that enables me to help people be the best versions of themselves is by far the biggest pro of being in the fitness industry. There is nothing more rewarding for both me, and the clients. People’s level of dedication is also truly inspiring. I keep being surprised by just how much people want to achieve their goals. They have made this commitment to themselves and they will move mountains to achieve it. People just never cease to amaze me with how a challenge can change their lives. Also, the fitness industry is constantly evolving, there is so much still to be learnt, and I love that it will always be an industry that is forever growing and unfolding with time.
As for cons, I think the thing that disheartens me the most is seeing people disappointed and unhappy with themselves. Exercise should be a celebration of what the body can do, not a punishment for what one ate. This is something I see all too often, and it just breaks my heart. Comparison is a very close second. We are all born unique and beautiful in our own way. And whilst I absolutely love social media and all its benefits, it also pains me to see people view pictures of these absolutely perfect figures splattered all over their news feeds, and think “Well why don’t I look like that?" Comparison is the thief of joy.
Fitness looks different on all of us, and just because we don’t all have bulging biceps or abs of steel doesn’t mean we don’t care about our health and aren’t taking care of ourselves. I really want people to know this, and realise that everyone is at different stages of their fitness journey. It’s great to have idols, but the best person we can be is ourselves, the best version of ourselves.
What kind of following do you have?
My Instagram account is admittedly where it all started. It’s been active for less than a year, but I wanted to develop a page that offers motivation and inspiration for leading a happy, healthy, balanced lifestyle, regardless of where you are located, be it rural or in the city. I don’t think people should limit themselves because of where they are situated. Especially when rural, as exercise has been linked to helping mental health, which is a real and worrying issue out in the countryside.
Exercise has numerous documented benefits. It can combat health conditions and diseases, help control weight, improve mood, boost your energy levels, promote better sleep, it can even increase libido, and it can also be social as well as fun. By moving for at least 30 minutes a day, exercise can help bring these benefits into a person’s life, and it need not cost a fortune.
Get creative, have fun with it. This is what my page is all about. I want to reach a wider audience, and social media helps me achieve this. I want people to see the real, genuine side to being active. In most of my pictures, I have admittedly just rolled out of bed, no makeup and bam, picture taken and I post it. I don’t want to create something unrealistic, and in fact, have the opposite effect of motivating people by creating an unreal expectation of what being fit is. I want people to be healthy - mind, body and soul - and I hope the people that follow me are these people.
What were your best and worst career experiences?
I would have to say the best moment in my career to date is seeing the transformation that my own brother has made. Not only just physically, but mentally as well. Forever grateful I will be, for my elder brother agreed to be my guinea pig as soon as I started studying for my fitness certificate. He was the perfect guinea pig too. He was as eager to learn as I was, and so desperately wanted to make a change to his health and fitness. He had reached the point in his life where he was so disappointed with himself, for the lifestyle choices he had made and how he felt and looked physically. He signed up to the gym with me.
I tried and tested the weights programs I had developed with him. He let me aid him with his technique, he started drinking less, being more conscious about what he ate and thought, then as I became a F45 trainer he jumped on board and even did the F45 8-week challenge. He was beyond dedicated and, sometimes, was even the motivator for me. Not only did he smash his goal, he ended up winning the males category for the F45 8-week challenge, with absolutely astounding results. The person he has become in achieving his goals is what has made me the proudest, not only as a trainer, but especially as a sister.
Luckily for me, I haven’t had any bad experiences in my career thus far, and let’s hope it remains this way. I like to think people within the fitness industry are on the same wavelength towards life and achieving goals, that the small, insignificant things really don’t interfere with the bigger picture. People come to me, and the F45 studio, to become a healthier, fitter version of themselves, and I will do my utmost to help them achieve that.
What advice do you give to people who are studying/working but thinking about switching professions?
I am a firm believer in doing what you love. Yes, that’s right, I’m one of those people (chuckles). But let’s be honest, you only get one life to live. Why be doing something day in and day out that you don’t even enjoy? The majority of our lifetime we are expected to work and make a living. So why be involved in something you aren’t passionate about? Whilst it isn’t always easy to make a change, or even go back to studying, which I myself have even found quite challenging at times, it’s always worth it if it enables you to do what you ultimately want to do.
Time is one of our most precious commodities. You can always get money back, but time, time you can’t get back. So, for anyone looking to try something different, I really encourage those people to explore all their options, challenge yourself, set goals, strive for more and push yourself outside that ‘box’ that so often we and societal expectations put us in. Live to your full potential.
What's next for you?
I am currently extremely grateful for where I am at but super excited about where I am going. There are many plans in the pipeline, not that I can reveal all just yet, sorry. But, what I can say is that by the end of this year I will hopefully, fingers crossed, have a Diploma in Nutrition, have developed a blog linked to my Instagram account (I’m admittedly tech-challenged, so that will be fun) and do a few body weight exercise videos out on the farm, for those who don’t always have access to a gym but need inspiration for farm workouts. My ultimate goal will allow me to travel more internationally and keep doing what I love, spreading the goodness of leading a happy, healthy, balanced lifestyle.
This little quote embodies my beliefs about life and these questions as whole. It’s also one of my favourites.
"I realised how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is NO GOOD." - Roald Dahl.
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