When we first met Isabella in 2005 she was in hospital suffering from an eating disorder and emotional issues. Partially blind, the challenges that faced Isabella on her journey to recovery seemed immense.

With the support of Maria,* her Workwise employment consultant, Isabella found her feet again. When we last caught up her she had made enormous progress managing her health, holding down a part time job and pursuing her dream of writing by undertaking a course in creative writing.

Three years ago we called Isabella’s story ‘Strength’. Today that title seems even more apt. As Isabella has progressed on her journey of recovery she’s learnt a lot about health and fitness and decided that she’s now pursuing a career as a gym instructor and personal trainer to help others learn some of these lessons and to grow their physical strength.

With a huge amount of support from Maria her employment consultant including regularly taking her to Auckland, being her reader and writer on courses, co-ordinating support to ensure that the course information and exercises could be undertaken by someone with limited sight and negotiating work experience placements, Isabella has been able to undertake study with Net Fit in Auckland.

Never one to sit idle, Isabella continued to work at the chocolate factory, completed a first aid certificate and starting teaching part of an aerobics session at the local gym during her first year of study via correspondence.

She is now working towards her Personal Trainer qualifications and has jumped at every
opportunity she’s been given, including travelling to Australia to the Re-Energise Nutrition Convention to study further with one of her instructors.

Maria has worked tirelessly to help make this opportunity work for Isabella. “I’m always relieved when things work out in her favour. Progress takes time but with Isabella’s resoluteness we always get there in the end,” says Maria.

A key factor in Isabella’s progress has been the support of people in the community like Meg, the owner of the local gym. “Meg is a real treasure. I doubt we would be this far along if it wasn’t for her.” says Maria. “She’s been so supportive and genuinely cares about Isabella’s situation.”

For Meg the experience has been worthwhile too. Not only has she had the benefit of a personal trainer for her and her clients but she says Isabella has done amazingly well. In fact, Isabella has impressed most people who have come in contact with her including the Net Fit team who have found her enthusiastic and eager to learn.

Tamara Middleton-Echave, the assessor for personal trainers and fitness instructors throughout NZ, says “It has been an inspiration to watch and assess Isabella. Her dedication to the industry has been magnificent. She demonstrated an amazing ability to learn from her assessment and I’m looking forward to working with her as she progresses on to becoming a personal trainer.”

“Isabella still sees her therapist twice a week and continues to battle with anxiety issues and a lack of confidence, but with the close support system she has built around her she generally manages very well,” says Maria.

Isabella is focused on her goal of a career in the fitness industry and while it hasn’t always been an easy journey, she’s found her passion and she’s determined to make it happen.