Having been a PE teacher for more than 20 years Phil, 45, has seen a steady increase in the number of parents and students asking for nutritional advice. Last year, he took the plunge and opted to go part time at his teaching position in order to undertake a Level 4: Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Management with Future Fit Training (FFT).
“This is such an important area, particularly with adolescents. I see kids on sporting pathways who have real potential but are being given generic and infrequent nutrition advice, as well as the promising young athletes that don’t even make it onto pathways, so miss out on advice completely. I want to make bridging that gap and supporting these youngsters to fulfil their aspirations my new career path.”
Phil’s desire to make a difference to young people in Yorkshire won him an Inspire Award in the Raising Your Bar category of the Future Fit Legacy Awards, as well as £500 to put towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD), CIMSPA membership and access to FFT’s CPD platform, ProZone.
“I wasn’t even sure whether to enter, as I had only just qualified. Now I am so glad I did,” he says. “Winning an award is such a boost to someone like me, who is starting something new up. Just speaking to a panel of judges about my vision was a huge motivator for me.
“Modern life is challenging and society is harsh about what people should look like. As a teacher I see kids that aren’t happy within themselves – both boys and girls – every single day. I want to help change that and to make a difference to the next generation, combining my coaching knowledge and background in physical fitness with my nutritional training from FFT.
“So few adolescents know how to make good food choices, or understand why they should follow the nutrition plans I recommend, and some don’t have a positive relationship with eating.”
After two decades in the teaching profession, Phil is more than qualified to talk about kids, what makes them tick and how to help them fulfil their potential. But it was a conversation with his son one bedtime that inspired him to officially retrain.
“I was Director of Sport at a private school. It was a job I loved, but it had started taking over my life. Working lots of weekends at sports tournaments meant I was constantly missing out on seeing my own 10-year-old son playing sport. One bedtime he asked: ‘Why do you spend more time with other people’s kids than you do with me?’ I didn’t have an answer.
“I was massively into nutrition personally and, more and more frequently, parents were asking my advice on what to feed their kids. Especially parents of the children that were competing to a high standard. I did some research, found FFT’s Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Management, took the plunge and signed up. I knew if it didn’t do it then I never would, and I might live to regret it.”
Phil’s aim is to help aspirational athletes in an adolescent age group to achieve their goals by equipping them with sound nutritional knowledge. In his experience, young people tend to focus on going to the gym and exercising, but have little idea about nutrition, even at an academy level.
“I see super talented kids with real aspirations and a real chance to go far. But, even if they’re with professional clubs, they have limited access to nutritionists, who often only work with the first team and rarely drop down to academy level.” “At the other end of the scale I see kids everyday who are scared in changing rooms because they’re ashamed of their bodies and the way they look. I understand teens and how their relationships work. I want to help them feel better; many teenagers aren’t happy with themselves.”
Having honed his skills over the summer months, Phil is now four weeks away from fully launching his new business, pHSportsNutrition.
“I’m working with a 21-year-old golfer that’s just turning pro, a 14-year-old rugby player and a tennis player who wanted a better body this summer, which confirmed the information gained from the FFT Diploma works and gives me real confidence going forwards.”
“My Legacy Award CPD prize will give me a great opportunity to further my knowledge; I am the sort of person who always wants to learn more. Being a CIMSPA member and having access to the ProZone will allow me to pick experts’ brains, increase my rate of learning and hopefully avoid some pitfalls start-up business tend to run into.”
Within a year, Phil is aiming to have a good client base across a number of different sports, focusing on helping girls and boys improve their athletic ability and sporting readiness.
“In five years, I want to have given up teaching entirely and be running phSportsNutrition as my sole venture,” he says. “Then I can reach out to more and more adolescents across Yorkshire and further afield. It’s not about money – if I was going to be financially motivated, I wouldn’t have gone into teaching in the first place! I want to connect with as many adolescents as I can and really help influence their futures.”