How fitness changed my life

Twenty-one year-old Josefin Espeland had two dreams – to travel and to pursue her passion for fitness as a personal trainer. After coming across an advertisement for TAFE Queensland, the Swedish national made the decision to combine them both and set off on a trip of a lifetime that would see her face her fears and take to the stage as a fitness model.

22 May 2017

Training, travel and sunshine – studying on the Sunshine Coast is the perfect fit for me. I’m originally from Sweden, on the beautiful west coast in a small town called Stenungsund just outside the city of Gothenburg, and wanted to pursue my interests in keeping fit, active and healthy. I’ve also always wanted to travel, so when my dad pointed out an ad in the newspaper about studying abroad with TAFE Queensland, I jumped at the chance.

I’m extremely passionate about fitness. Exercise and training is what helped me out of a very dark time in my life. It all started with my mum; she got me off my butt and challenged me to go to group fitness classes with her. After a few sessions I was hooked. I lost 16 kg’s and not only noticed changes in my body, but also changes in my mood. That’s ultimately what put me on this path – I was happy again.

It’s been a dream of mine to one day stand up on stage in front of a room full of strangers and compete in a body building competition, so after several months of studying my Diploma of Sport Development, I decided to seize my chance. I flew up to Townsville and competed in ICN Tropix and was on stage four times; competing in the ‘U21 Fitness Model and Sport Model’ category together with the ‘Fitness Model and Sport Model First Timers’ category. I was really only in competition with myself, but was grateful to be awarded third and fourth place medals for my efforts up on stage.

Josefin at her first fitness competition
Josefin at her first competition

Training and dieting for a competition is not easy. You’re striving to push yourself every single day and I wanted to push myself to my limits and see what I could do with my body – to learn more about myself, my body and how both it, and I, respond to different things. The hardest thing I found was that as the calories started to drop, I didn’t have the same energy as I would normally have. I would come home from TAFE in the afternoon and fall asleep, only to wake up to eat dinner and then be back in bed by 8pm. I felt like a zombie for those last few short weeks leading into the competition, but if I’m serious about training others I first needed to know what they’d be going through – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

The feeling of being up on stage showing off what you’ve worked so hard for, for such a long time, is an indescribable feeling. Sitting back and reflecting about all of the preparation I’d done and all I’d achieved, I can’t help but smile and feel proud of myself and the person that I have fought to become.

I decided to compete in Australia because here I’m surrounded by people I knew would understand what it’s like to train for competition and who would support me in doing so. I was lucky to have my awesome TAFE Queensland teacher Paul Barr coach me in both a professional sense in class and in my own personal training. Being trained by him was such an honour – I felt confident knowing that he knew what he was doing and I am forever thankful to him for everything he has done for me. When you’re training, you’re putting your health, your emotions and often your sanity in someone else’s hands, and to see him so passionate about what he does makes me want to be just as good a trainer as him in the future when I’m working in this industry.

My advice to others who are thinking of competing is to surround themselves with supportive people, people who understand you and will do anything in their power to be there for you when you need them. People like Paul, and people like my amazing best friend and roomie who did cardio with me, pushed me to go to the gym, cooked my meals and prepared my lunch boxes, and threw the occasional affirmation or motivational speech at me when I needed it most. She even flew to Townsville with me and was with me backstage, pumping me up, taking photos and sharing the mandatory fatty burger with me after we’d finished. We did it all together.

My first thoughts of Australia were that it was a hot, dry dessert with heaps of scary animals. Today, after living on the Sunshine Coast and achieving so much, I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’m so glad I took the chance to study at TAFE Queensland.

For more information about studying at TAFE Queensland visit our website or call 1300 308 233.

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