Back in 2010, Bangkok’s fitness scene was bleak. The only gym of note was California Wow, health cafes were almost non-existent and—for better or worse—Instagram fitness influencers were yet to explode. The local wellness scene is not the only thing that’s undergone a seismic shift in the last decade; an increasing number of millenials gave their parents’ dreams of law school and accounting the proverbial finger, turning to less traditional career paths such as fitness. We spoke to five Bangkok-based millenials to see how that has worked out for them.

Stephany Auernig

Stephany is a rhythm cycling instructor at RYDE and a fitness coach at BASE.
What was your job before you got into health and fitness?
I was a model and actress for eight years but sport was my passion growing up.
What led to your career change?
I used to gym hop around Bangkok. I discovered rhythm cycling, then I had the opportunity to train as an instructor. My passion grew, so I decided to take the NASM course and become a certified fitness coach. 
What appealed to you about a job in this industry?
I have a desire and passion to help people progress and hit their goals. It feels great to have such a positive effect on people.
What do you like about working in fitness?
I love that I get to meet new people everyday who share the same passion. I also love meeting beginners who are new to fitness and I get very excited to share my knowledge with them.
Any regrets?
Not at all, as I can feel now that I’m on the right path for me. 
What do your parents, family and friends think of your career choice?
At first they were quite unsure, but in the end it was my own decision to make.
Any tips or advice for those wanting to work in health and fitness?
Make sure that you have a passion for it. There are so many paths within the industry, so make sure you find the right path for you.



Built Yumuang

Built is the founder and CEO of active lifestyle brand Ontrack Asia. He also creates health and fitness content for GQ Magazine and Vogue Magazine Thailand.
What did you study at university?
I studied business management with a minor in marketing at Michigan Technological University. 
Why did you decide to seek a job in health and wellness?
It was a natural extension of my lifestyle. It wasn’t about money, but about inspiring people to improve themselves and live a balanced life.
How has the industry treated you?
I love it! I’ve always been interested in health and fitness so to see it getting more attention in Bangkok is really exciting. That’s why I founded Ontrack—to be a part of this development and help create even more awareness for the benefits of a healthy, positive lifestyle.
What do you like most about this industry?
It’s fun and exciting and you don’t have to be sat in an office chair all day. The great thing about this industry is it’s full of active people striving to progress, so I learn a lot from working closely with them.
What do your parents, family and friends think?
My family has always been very supportive. My dad was once a football player, so he gets it and just offers his advice and experience. My friends were unsure about whether there was a real career in fitness, but as the years have gone by they’re starting to see that the health and wellness industry is growing and providing a lot of opportunities.
Any advice for those wanting to work in health and fitness?
There are so many opportunities out there and different angles to take into this industry. The passion needs to be there because this is not just a trend, it’s a lifestyle. It may not be the highest paying industry around but it’s an exciting and positive one.



Chidchanok “Nana” Chiamcharoenvuthi

Chidchanok “Nana” Chiamcharoenvuthi is a barre instructor at Physique57 by day and a singer by night. 
What did you do before pursuing a career in fitness?
Before becoming a barre instructor I worked as a flight attendant for Japan Airlines for five years.
What sparked your change in career?
I love to exercise, I love music, I have lots of energy and I love to meet new people and to entertain them. Being a fitness instructor seemed like the perfect career choice.
What do you like most about working in the wellness industry?
I love that this job allows you to make money while helping others change and improve their lives. This industry values creativity and being yourself, which is not so much the case with more traditional roles.
Any regrets?
Not at all. As a flight attendant I gained valuable experience, made many friends and travelled the world. Now I have chosen to pursue my other passion.
What do your parents, family and friends think?
My parents never set a career path for me or expected me to follow a traditional route—they just told me to give it my all. 
Any advice for those wanting to work in health and fitness?
When you become a fitness instructor, you will quickly learn that it is not easy to be positive, energetic and strong for your clients all the time, unless you take good care of yourself first.


Darren Liu

Darren is a certified health coach and the founder of Genius Bar, Asia’s first dedicated bone broth cafe. 
What were you doing before you started working in health and fitness?
I was in the affiliate marketing space for the three years prior, which then brought me to Bangkok to work for a performance marketing startup. 
What caused you to switch industries?
I asked myself if I could see myself being optimally happy in the affiliate marketing space for the next 10 years, and the answer was a definite no. 
What do you like about working in the health industry?
Firstly, meeting other like-minded people with the same passion to optimize their well-being and the well-being of their loved ones. Secondly, the fulfillment of helping others take back control of their health. That’s what it’s all about.
What do your parents, family and friends think?
They’re all-in with me. They’ve always felt I had a knack for being a coach or mentor, and it’s exciting for all of us to see it finally coming to fruition.
Any advice for those wanting to work in health and fitness?
The absolute core foundation of your pursuit needs to be passion over profit. If the only goal is to make tons of money, I don’t think this industry is for you. 



Kie Lurkraisit

Kie is a senior marketing executive and fitness coach at BASE.
What did you study and why?
I graduated with a degree in financial analysis and investment. I didn’t know what I liked back then so I picked a safe choice that would offer some business foundations and career scope.
What made you make the decision to seek a job in health and wellness?
I tried sales, marketing and HR roles after leaving uni and I found all of them fine, but certainly not my calling. Fitness was something that truly interested me. I wasn’t a qualified coach back then, so I found another route into the industry with a marketing position at a fitness studio, then did my fitness coaching qualifications.
What do you like about working in the wellness industry?
The work I do changes people’s lives. Whether working directly with clients with my coaching or inspiring people to start a healthier lifestyle through my marketing, I get to see people from all backgrounds work towards a stronger and more positive lifestyle. Not many jobs offer this.
Any regrets on not taking a more traditional route?
With social pressure, it is hard to not regret anything. I used to regret not taking a more academic job as my family would have been happier, career path would have been clearer and it probably would have felt more stable. But I now have no regrets.
What do your parents, family and friends think of your non-traditional path?
My family didn’t support me in the beginning as they perceive careers in health and wellness to be unstable. My friends generally think it’s fortunate I’m able to make my passion my profession.
Any advice for those wanting to work in health and fitness?
This industry is growing, as well as the opportunities. If you’re really passionate about health and fitness, be open-minded and ready to learn new things—I think these are the elements you need to succeed in this space.

About the author: Jack Thomas is the founder and CEO of BASE, voted Asia’s Gym of the Year in the Fitness Best Awards 2018.