Physiotherapy: Callum Repper

Callum Repper graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (2012) and also holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning 2015). Callum works in a dual role as a performance coach and physiotherapist with Hintsa Performance and One Physiotherapy.

What led you to study at the University of Melbourne?

I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. I became aware in my last few years of high school that the University of Melbourne was a prestigious University, held in great regard worldwide, and importantly for me, was seen as a leading institution in my field of choice, Physiotherapy.

I visited the University with my parents in my final year of high school and was convinced that it was the University for me after seeing the beautiful campus, fantastic sports and gym facilities, and its location centred in the heart of the vibrant city of Melbourne

What are your strongest memories of your time at the University?

My strongest memories come from the relationships that were formed during my time at the University.

I was lucky enough to represent the University at two Southern University Games and four Australian University Games in basketball, where we had great success on court, and more importantly, I met many close friends, including my now fiancĂ©!

I was also very close friends with my fellow Physiotherapy students, sharing so many life experiences with them during University and in the years since graduating. One particular highlight undertaking my Global Elective at Cal State Long Beach in the USA with my two best friends.

What goals did you set yourself when you finished university and have you stuck to that plan?

My immediate goal after University was to obtain a job in the private sector, in a practice which would nurture me, providing mentorship and ongoing PD, and at the same time try to perform as much sports physiotherapy as possible, paid or unpaid, which I was lucky enough to be able to do.

I knew as a longer-term goal that I wanted to work in professional sport in some capacity, and that I would likely have to obtain a masters degree, as well as network appropriately, in order to achieve this. Obtaining my Masters in Exercise Science (Strength & Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University was an achievement which I am very proud of, and allowed me to transition into working in professional sport.

What drew you to Physiotherapy and performance coaching? What do you love about it? 

My first passion was sport, and at a young age all I wanted to do was be a professional athlete. I have always found sport mesmerising. Not only does sport keep us physically fit and active, I believe the mental stimulation and the comradery that are achieved by playing, or even supporting ones favourite team, is something special. I love that sport has the ability to bind together those from different backgrounds and cultures, even those who speak different languages. I wanted to do everything that I could to represent my family and friends as a professional athlete. However, once it became clear as my teenage years progressed that this pathway was not for me, I found a new passion- to put the skills that I had gained in team-sport to use in order to help others. This led me to become first, a swimming and basketball coach, then a physiotherapist, and more recently has allowed me to take a dual role as a performance coach and physiotherapist.

I have a particular interest in finding the best way to push others physically and mentally. I want to help others find meaningful goals in their life and I want to assist them in overcoming whatever hurdles have been put in their way so they can achieve these goals. The most rewarding clients to work with are often those with the biggest barriers standing in the way of them achieving their goals, who persevere despite this adversity.

Can you describe your role at One Physiotherapy and your work with Hintsa Performance?

One Physiotherapy is a private practice in Reading, roughly an hour west of London. I see a private caseload with a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions, though my caseload is skewed to those clients with longer-term rehabilitation needs, which fits with my fluctuating F1 travel schedule. I also teach clinical Pilates, and provide Strength and Conditioning coaching and programming at the clinic.

Hintsa Performance is a forward-thinking company, whose model is based around the theory of the company’s founder Dr Aki Hintsa, that performance is a by-product of wellbeing. My role with the Mercedes AMG-Petronas F1 team is to promote wellbeing through specific and general physical activity, as well as providing support in the areas of nutrition, mental energy, biomechanics and rest and recovery. I work closely with the team's travelling doctor, and I am also able to use Hintsa's multi-disciplinary team as a resource in areas of coaching that I am not as heavily trained in. I use my sports science analytical skills to determine and implement methods to improve the human side of pit-stop performance. In addition to my coaching role, I provide a general MSK physiotherapy service to all travelling members of the race team, ranging from the pit-crew, management, engineers and drivers.

Did you see yourself working in motorsports when you were completing your degree?

Absolutely not! However, I did know that I wanted to work with driven individuals and that, at least in the early stages of my career my heart lay in the elite sports environment. When the opportunity to interview with Hintsa Performance came up, I was excited for the opportunity to work in a sport which contains highly motivated individuals, a high level of resources, and a rapidly evolving push for improved human performance across the F1 paddock.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?

My first role travelling with a sporting team, working at multiple Australian Junior Basketball National Championships (in a sport close to my heart) is an experience I will never forget.

I have fond memories of being a part of Reading WFC's first ever win in the top flight professional women's football competition WSL 1 (the team had been promoted the year before I joined them) in 2016.

More recently, being sprayed with champagne alongside the rest of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team as the drivers celebrate a win is an experience that I am lucky enough to have had a few times, which is surreal and totally awesome!

Despite these memorable sporting moments, the greatest highlights of my career have been the smiles I have seen on everyday clients' faces - everyone from children, to the elderly, to elite athletes - when they have achieved a goal, especially when they have had to overcome the adversity of a major injury!

What does being successful mean to you? 

I believe that the relationships we make along our journey in life are invaluable. The social connections we make with others are what makes us human, and should be valued and cherished above all else.

If I can form or further develop a relationship, and help at least one person take a step towards their goals (major or minor) in every day of my working life, whilst still maintaining a balanced life involving healthy relationships with family and friends away from work, I feel that will be achieving true success.

Do you have any advice for current students or recent graduates of physiotherapy?

Meet, and connect with as many people in your field as possible. Not just a social media connection, but a true in-person connection. Attend courses and conferences, go out for a coffee, or a beer, or even have a walking meeting with a colleague or mentor. If these things are not possible, simply pick up the phone and talk! Qualifications are important, but it is the others around you that you will challenge you, teach you, and inspire you. These connections in your field and related areas are the connections that will lead to opportunities throughout your career.

Find your passion, and continue to nurture it. In addition to the above, read, listen to podcasts, and read some more.

Finally, practice what you preach! I believe you cannot be a health promoter and be unhealthy yourself.