We spoke to Sara Nankivell about her inspiring achievement in qualifying as a Nutritional Therapist from being a Personal Trainer with us.
Sara, now our Deputy General Manager at Nuffield Health Guildford Gym, has been on an inspiring journey to further her career and skills. We spoke to her to get some great tips for any passionate health & fitness individuals that are interested in Nutritional Therapy.
- What inspired you to become a Nutritional Therapist?
‘Honestly, lots of different things – pure curiosity (I’m a massive geek and love learning), a love of training and fuelling my own body for competition, frustration at not being able to support my clients the right way in terms of nutrition (yes, I knew the basics but 9 times out of 10 the basics just aren’t enough) – there was also a massive frustration at the sheer amount of conflicting media messages around food. After being exposed to the impact the nutritional therapy can have in an integrated setting at my last club (Farnham) I knew it was a path I wanted to investigate further.’
- How did you start out your career?
‘I did my first degree in Sports Therapy at the University of Teesside and after graduating worked as a Personal Trainer whilst working in a small private practice doing sports massage and sports rehab. I moved to work for Nuffield Health after about a year in one of our corporate sites in Surrey. After about a year or so there the Cannons acquisition happened and I moved to Farnham as one of the original Senior Wellbeing Advisors implementing and delivering the Health MOT product and working on the gym floor typically with special population clients. I moved up to Fitness and Wellbeing Manager and then took on the role of Health Mentor before moving to Epsom to run the onsite centre where we have just launched NT and the healthy weight programme. My role is super busy at the moment as I am still delivering classes, PT and HMOT alongside nutrition and the healthy weight programme but I love it and its forcing me to be super organised!’
- What education requirements are there?
‘I studied through the Institute of Optimum Nutrition (where our very own Natalie Braithwaite studied) and chose to do the distance learning course so I could continue to work full time. I have a degree in sports science and PT qualifications so I didn’t need to do any prior learning but some people on my course had very different backgrounds and had to do an access to science course first which covers basic anatomy, biology, chemistry etc. The ION course I took is 3 years – it was tough and there is a lot of reading, writing essays, case studies and lectures/seminars to complete but I loved every second of it. The course covers lots of additional aspects of learning including study skills, business planning and legal obligations which were all really helpful too. Post qualification you need to apply to be registered with BANT and the CNHC who have both been really helpful and are a great source of information about on-going learning. There are lots of courses out there but very few which actually mean you can become a registered NT – my aim was to work for Nuffield Health as an NT and this was one of the few courses that would give me what I needed to do that!’
- What tips would you give someone looking to become a Nutritional Therapist?
‘Make sure it’s something you want and are going to use when you graduate! It’s not cheap to qualify and is a huge amount of work so be prepared for some long nights, a distinct lack of social life and to be surrounded by journal articles, textbooks and notes! With that said, in the short time that I’ve been practicing as an NT I have had some of the most rewarding experiences of my career and am 110% sure I made the right decision!’