Living a healthy lifestyle is in the blood for massage therapy student James Paparousis.
With both his mum and twin sister Nicole working as personal trainers, it was almost inevitable he would one day choose a career in the health industry. “My family is really into looking and feeling healthy,” he says. “It’s always been a passion of mine and I like helping others.”
As a kid, he recalls practising his skills on his mum. “We used to muck around and if she had sore shoulders we’d give her a massage,” he says.
After five years working as a chef, Paparousis realised it was time for a career change. “I still enjoy cooking but I didn’t enjoy the lifestyle. It was taking a toll on my body.” Since enrolling in the Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice at Melbourne Polytechnic he’s never looked back. Paparousis’ sister has already set up her own business and he hopes to follow in her footsteps before too long. “We have this goal of having a multi-disciplinary family clinic. To be successful you have to put in a lot of time and hard work.” Paparousis, who is a qualified sports trainer, says being successful means practicing what you preach. “Working in this career means encouraging people to look after themselves so you have to do it yourself.”
Last month the 23-year-old was recognised for his hard work when he was named joint winner of the Student Therapist of the Year award, along with classmate Simon Renn. The two friends, who are currently completing the Advanced Diploma of Remedial Massage (Myotherapy), were recommended for the award by Melbourne Polytechnic program coordinator Kate Coady. Coady says both students are great ambassadors for the profession, scoring high marks and gaining professional experience outside the course.
Both Renn and Paparousis work as massage therapists at their beloved Collingwood Football Club. Paparousis says injury prevention is an important part of his job. “The players have to be 100 per cent fit to perform at optimum levels and we have to help them get there.” He is also involved in player rehabilitation where he works alongside the physios and doctors to help players get back to their physical peak. “Collingwood had one of the lowest injury rates last year. That’s quite rewarding.”
Paparousis says the Melbourne Polytechnic Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice was an ideal starting point for him because it was industry-orientated and there were no prerequisites. “The good thing about the massage course is the hands-on work. We have a student clinic and on a weekly basis you’re massaging at least three or four people. We’re lucky we get to balance our theory and practice at an early stage.”
Advanced Diploma of Remedial Massage (Myotherapy)