Jes Hatt struggled at school. He graduated and always worked, but at 35 he felt he still hadn’t found the job that used his full potential, skills and interests.
“I always felt stupid at school and had low self esteem. I could read and write, but I knew I could do more if I improved. It was scary to think about going back to any kind of school situation,” he said.
Hatt heard about a personal training certificate program at Okanagan College, something he had always been interested in. The catch was that he would have to upgrade his literacy and study skills.
The college, which has one of several adult literacy programs in the area, was there to help him.
“The college is one of the partners in adult literacy,” said Wendy Aasen, executive director of Junction Literacy Centre, which provides literacy programs for people of all ages.
Hatt was partnered with a tutor to help him with the course.
“Peter (Pershin) is an amazing man who understood what I wanted to achieve and how I learned, in a kinaesthetic, hands-on way. I have always done well in sports and I wanted to share my enthusiasm about its benefits with others as a personal trainer,” said Hatt.
“Going to college was intimidating for me but Peter helped me to believe in myself. He showed me how to use my way of learning to help myself, how to study and take tests properly, things I hadn’t been able to learn at school because of how it was presented.”
Hatt used his natural way of learning to get his certificate and do all the necessary work to start his personal training business, Hatt Fitness. Now, at 40, he is where he wants to be and can see lots of potential.
“I started with a mobile business so I could go to people where they were, to give them more opportunity to get fit. I work with individuals and small groups wherever they want, at their own homes and often outside in parks. I wanted people to get motivated and have fun. Some people need to start at home because it is difficult to go to a gym.
“Women particularly have issues with body image and need to feel comfortable and encouraged, for their health and for their looks. I had one client who lost 85 pounds once she could believe in herself and that she deserved to be fit and healthy.”
Hatt credits his late father with reminding him that life is short and he had to go for what he wanted.
“I wasted 17 years when I could have been doing what I wanted. Sometimes we need to be challenged to do what we want to take care of ourselves in the ways we need. I want everybody to be able to reach their dreams and goals. When you are ready, there is someone there to help you,” he said. “I want this life to use me to help others to the best that I can but I needed some help to be able to do what I’m doing. I get a gift when I see somebody learn to do something they couldn’t do before.”
Hatt’s van is loaded with what he calls toys — balls, ropes and weights that he uses in imaginative ways to keep clients interested and challenged.
“Improving my literacy skills helped me in all areas of my life. I was able to give a speech at the funeral of a friend, not that I wanted that situation but I wanted to honour my friend and I could not have done it before. It is important that we are all doing our best. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have the courage to be successful. Learn how you learn and go for it,” said Hatt.
“The tutoring is free. That was the gift. I was gambling on myself and I didn’t know what was going to happen. You never know what you can do until you try.”
For more information on adult literacy programs, contact Junction Adult Literacy or Okanagan College.