Ashley Simonic, AES, Disability Sector

Ashley Simonic

Job title: Exercise Scientist and studio supervisor

Company/Organisation: The Holt Bolt

How long have you been in the role?
Worked here for 8 and a half years, initially as a PT, event coordinator and administrator and then an Exercise Scientist.

Give us a brief background on your career to date?
I started in 2012 as a PT, working with mainstream clients. In 2013 my director also started an obstacle race event called The Holt Bolt of which I became event coordinator and managed all of the administration for the company. In 2015 this merged into running obstacle events for children and schools which I supervised in conjunction with personal training at the studio. 

I graduated with a Bachelor of Exercise and Movement Science in December 2017. In 2018 we stopped doing obstacle courses and opened the studio up to children, teens and adults of all abilities and needs. This meant training clients with a range of intellectual and physical disabilities as well as mainstream clients. Since then I have worked one-on-one with hundreds of clients ranging in needs and abilities; developing programs and running one-on-one & group sessions.

What have been the highlights?
Working with the kids (and adults) with what others see as severe disabilities and discovering that they are some of the most capable, able and determined individuals I have ever met! One particular highlight is teaching a 7 year old with Kabuki Syndrome (approx. the size of an 18 month old) to take his first steps. He is now able to walk unassisted across a room and complete full gym circuits (modified for his size).

Any lowlights?
Working with people with disabilities can be confronting and there a many times when progress can be frustratingly slow. Learning the patience to guide them and their families through these plateaus has been tough, but equally rewarding when we break through on the other side. The small steps are worth just as much as the end goal!

What are your plans for the next 3-5 years?
To keep working with my clients and helping as many kids, teens and adults as possible. I want to continue helping people living with disabilities to realise just how capable they are.

If you could name 3 skills, you need for your role what would they be?
Passion, perseverance and patience. 

One piece of advice you would give a student?
Work with as many different people as you can. You can and will learn something new from every single person you work with; clients and staff alike. Open yourself up to as many different experiences and opportunities as you can and keep an open mind. You never know where those new paths may take you!