SMITH & WELLNESS
Hi, I'm Bek Smith.
I'm a fitness industry professional, a former physiotherapist, a professional public speaker, psychology educator, wellbeing advisor and coach.
Below is the story of Smith & Wellness and the Mental Fitness Movement. I hope our evolution inspires you to drive positive change in your world.
My final year of high school is also when I first join a gym. After years of hating sports day and being the last one chosen for every team in physical education at school, I discover the joy of group fitness and start to love exercise for the first time.
I start a Bachelor of Science where my major fields of study will become human physiology and (more importantly) psychology. . . I'm determined to figure out how to overcome my childhood traumas and adolescent struggles.
WORK + MORE STUDY
My first "serious" job is in psychology research for the Defence force, where I study cross-cultural communication training and its impacts on Army troops deployed overseas. This is also the year I decide to become a gym instructor and enrol in a Certificate III in Fitness.
I return to university to study a different research project in physiology - the effect of hand pain on dexterity. I have no idea that my own hand pain will later impact my career direction. I start teaching classes at the gym as a newbie instructor, unaware of the public speaking skills I'm developing.
I realise research isn't people-focused enough for me, and decide to upskill as a physiotherapist. Fortunately a local university has just introduced a Master's degree that recognises my prior learning so I can become a physio in two years instead of four! This is also the year I start seeing a psychologist with support and encouragement from my fiance.
A TEN-YEAR CAREER BEGINS
I'm fortunate to land a physiotherapy job in a supportive clinic with great professional development and an amazing team; some of whom will become friends of mine for life. I negotiate a full-time offer down to half-time so I can continue teaching the gym classes that put me through uni and bring me such joy.
I complete my initial teacher training in the ChiBall Method, which integrates the discipines of tai chi, dance, yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais and meditation. I become a teacher trainer, then develop the ChiBall Remedial Pilates course.
This is a turning point year - I split with my fiance, although the loss of a relationship brings other gains. I am introduced to the work of two authors - Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle - who will become hugely influential in my work and in my life. I also gain my wellness coaching certification.
RECOGNITION & REWARD
I'm invited to join the national presenting team for a global gym program I teach, and start an 7-year journey of upskilling other instructors. This also leads to a Reebok sponsorship, and the uncoordinated child in me finds delight and humour in now being a sponsored athlete!
I find out Eckhart Tolle is coming to Australia to run a five-day retreat - and I can't afford the cost of the trip interstate to attend. Then life intervenes beautifully, and I receive the exact sum I need from an unexpected tax refund! The retreat is transformative and inspires me to start a business that will help others to find the same kind of internal freedom that I have.
THE NEXT STEPPING STONE
I've been working as a physio with injured and sore hands for a while by now, and decide to do more wellness coaching with my clients. I upskill with a Diploma in Positive Psychology and Wellbeing with the intention of becoming a better and more hands-off kind of clinician.
ANOTHER TURNING POINT
A friend sends me an email with a job description. While I wasn't considering a change of direction quite like this, I have to agree it's a great fit! I spend the weekend throwing together an application that's due on Monday, am invited to an interview, and then offered the role of Lead Trainer in Wellbeing and Resilience at SAHMRI, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institution. So begins two-and-a-half years of teaching and training positive psychology.
ENTER MENTAL FITNESS
I'm thinking more and more about the parallels between training the body and training the mind. I start to think of psychological skills training in terms of building "mental fitness" and am accepted to do a TEDx talk on the topic. This is also the year I resign from my paid employment and dedicate myself full-time to the business I began years ago after being inspired by Tolle's retreat.
DISASTER OR OPPORTUNITY?
A global pandemic begins and for a few moments in time I regret launching into a training business! Fortunately the rest of the world starts to put more value on wellbeing, and my wonderful adaptable clients invite me to continue running psychological skills training via tele- and video-conferencing.
PROGRESS TOWARDS IMPACT
I continue with corporate training and consulting work, and in the background start making plans to make a difference for a broader audience. I begin piloting a train-the-trainer program to develop mental fitness coaches, and consult a wide cross-section of people I work with to determine what a social movement for greater psychological fitness could look like.
NOW, AND . . . ?
"I" is now "we" and the Mental Fitness Movement starts to gain traction. We launch weekly discussion groups, start offering coaching more broadly, and take a focus on unconventional leaders as our niche audience. Our common ground is being quirky out-of-the-box thinkers who want to make a difference supporting other fringe dwellers to drive positive change. We can't wait to see what evolves next!