People of Fitstop - Mark Vaiao

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I remember taking a really long pause, I had sweaty palms, I looked over at my mother, and with tears in her eyes she gave me a nod of approval to sign on the dotted line for a contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs. I didn’t know it then, but that was the the moment that would change my life forever. Fast forward 20 years that moment happened again only this time it was just my wife and I, as we put pen to paper for our very own Fitstop location.

I grew up in a tight knit, Catholic Samoan community in South Auckland, New Zealand.  We didn’t have much but we were always surrounded by faith, family, friends and happiness. My heart will always be drawn to these things.

When a hobby becomes a career

Growing up, I played a variety of sports and loved them all but I was always drawn to rugby league. I had just finished high school in Auckland NZ and in the coming days I had agreed to terms and signed a contract. Four weeks later, I was on a flight to Australia to begin my career with the Canterbury Bulldogs in Sydney. As a 17 year old away from my mother, younger brother and everyone close to me it was hard.  However, I had a dream and was given a great opportunity so I spent the next three years developing and learning from the best. The hard work paid off and I was fortunate enough to play first grade in the NRL for the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs in the following years, sharing the field with childhood heroes like Brad Fittler and household names like Brett Mullins, Craig Fitzgibbon, Bryan Fletcher, Ashley Harrison, Justin Hodges and many more. I represented my country of heritage, Samoa in the 2000 Rugby league World Cup. I also spent 5 years in the English Super League for Leigh Centurions, Whitehaven and Castleford Tigers. I finally came back to Brisbane and played 7 years for Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup.

A nation’s culture resides in the heart and soul of its people

I have great pride in my Samoan heritage. I speak, read and write in Samoan fluently. It may not be my country of birth but it resides in my heart. The traditional tattoo known as ‘Tatau’ has been practiced for hundreds of years and is still carried out today. It is a rite of passage, a mark of family pride and honour of our heritage. The Tatau covers my entire body from my ribs down to my knees. The entire process took me 10 painful sessions, but each section denotes a special meaning our Samoan culture. This is very symbolic and the elders say if you can handle the blood shed and pain then you candle anything life throws at you. The Samoan culture is based on religion and family, which is why these are the values I live by every single day.

Behind every good man there’s a great woman

I am very blessed to have a loving and supportive wife Jayne. She is an absolute superstar who always puts our family and others before herself. She is amazing at everything she does, and while her focus is razor sharp when it comes to business, she manages to always remain such a loving, caring person. We both have a passion for health and fitness which is why it such a massive part of our lives. We have 2 daughters - Eva (8yrs old) and Serafina who is turning 2 in December. We are excited to announce that we are expecting another child this October!

My family is my “WHY”.  They are my motivation and they keep me grounded. Nothing is more rewarding than coming home to our girls running down the hall with arms outstretched ready for a big cuddle. No matter what has happened during the day, it quickly fades away as soon as I see their smiling faces! My family is the foundation on which I will build a loving caring home. The same foundation I take into my job everyday.

Choose a job you love and you never work a day in your life

I have been in the fitness industry for over 10 years. I have learnt a lot over the years working with individuals, small groups, kids and sporting teams. I have always wanted something to call my own and it wasn’t until our good friend mentioned her new gym at Fitstop Morningside, and expressed how much she LOVED it! She loved the facility, the method of training and that the people were all very motivating and friendly. It was her enthusiasm towards Fitstop that made me investigate it further. So investigate is what we did, and I soon realised it was a great fit for us. Like any small business, it is very challenging to open your own facility, but I felt supported and loved from day one. This was evident on our open day, where we had close to 100 people from all over Brisbane attend!

Everyday I am fortunate enough to be able to change lives for the better through Fitstop. Moving people further away from disease and death and towards a sustainable, healthier lifestyle. These aren’t just people or members, they are an extension of the family; they are my Fitstop Family. I’m not going to lie, from time to time I will push the relationship and they may not love the 1km run or 100 burpees that gets dished out, but ultimately everything is given with LOVE. That love comes from the knowledge that I have everyone’s best interest at heart and the end result is overwhelmingly in their favour!

Fitstop believes in fighting for healthier and happier humans, something I value and whole heartedly believe in. If you would like to be part of my Fitstop Family, I open my doors and my arms to you and invite you to come and experience the difference for yourself.

May God keep you safe as Fitstop keeps you healthy and happy.

Faafetai, Faafetai lava - Thank you

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Mark Vaiao

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