Health, happiness and on-job training with Skills Active Aotearoa apprentice Mark Hurdle

September 25, 2018

When Mark Hurdle embarked on his Gym Manager apprenticeship with Skills Active Aotearoa, he and his wife didn’t have children, and by the time he finished they were parents of two girls under two. He also went from managing one club, to overseeing 16 clubs and 160 people.

These days, Mark (pictured above, centre) is a Regional Director of Fitness for CityFitness, based in Christchurch, and he’s one of three candidates for the Skills Active 2018 Apprentice of the Year.

Each year this award goes to a high-potential trainee with commitment, passion and diligence, who has the skills and qualifications to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, through the medium of sport, recreation or the performing arts.

Mark was working as a club manager when he decided to embark on the Gym Manager Apprenticeship to increase his skill set.

His reasons were twofold. Firstly, he was encouraging his staff to pursue training and it made sense to get onboard himself. And secondly, he had a feeling the apprenticeship would help him to analyse and refine the people management strategies he was using at work – and that’s exactly what it did, he says.

“I had no formal training or education around managing people so I was just going with my gut… Here was a chance to validate what I was doing. Managing people is a huge part of my career, so the apprenticeship was perfect for me to fine-tune my skills.”

When you ask Mark about his job, he says he has three. There’s his professional career, his career as a dad and husband, and then there’s his commitment to his personal health – as a fitness professional he takes this very seriously as well.

“My fundamental belief is that emotions are infectious and if you love something you should pass it on to everyone that will listen. I learnt that early as a trainer, but also as a person who just did recreational exercise. I loved it, it made me feel better, and it made me feel like a better person.”

Helping others to get in touch with that same emotional experience of exercise is what drives Mark and keeps him passionate about the world of fitness.

As a regional director of fitness, he supports club managers at 16 facilities in the South Island and lower North Island. That means he can influence more people and make a difference, but it also means he needs to make the most of every minute that he gets to spend with the people on his team.

“The apprenticeship has helped me to be more productive with my time, rather than ‘busy’… It gave me that substance and that reasoning behind how I do things. And how to make them as impactful as I can.

“I still use the skills I learnt during the apprenticeship every single day. It has helped me to work smarter and achieve the work/life balance I need... I can’t afford to be burning the candle at both ends, not only for my team, but also for my family – I can’t go home and be a great dad and husband when I’m not giving everything I can to that role either.

“And fitness is all about balance. It’s great that my work and life must replicate that. I say that to clients and trainers all the time, so I have to live and breathe that too.”

Mark’s next big goal is to influence his organisation at a national level. But that’s not all. 

“In my family role, I want to continue to maximise my time with them - for me as a father and husband, that far surpasses bringing home a paycheque… And then on the exercise and personal front, my goal is to be happy. I’m the only one who can make myself happy, and if I am happy, I can positively affect the emotional experience of everybody I’m around.”

About the Award

Mark is in the running for the 2018 Skills Active Apprentice of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the New Zealand Recreation Conference in October. Watch this space to find out about the other candidates!


Media contact for Skills Active

Esther McLaren

021 195 5127

About Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is the industry training organisation for sport, recreation, aquatics, exercise, snowsport and performing arts. We are a non-profit organisation, funded by government to promote careers and workforce development in our industries, work with them to create world-class qualifications, and support workplaces to train staff.