Illustration student helps others attain personal best


When not drawing comic book characters or sketching detailed still life portraits, Allen Lau is hitting the gym with his clients.

Lau is a third-year student in the Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus where he works outside of the Sheridan Athletics centre as a personal trainer.

Since his early teens, Lau, 23, has always been active, playing football for the Lawrence Park Panthers throughout high school and the Metropolitan Wildcats in the Ontario Varsity Football League in his university years.

“There are benefits to lifting weights no matter what your goals are…”

When not on the field, or at his desk drawing, Lau has been in the gym lifting weights. “My coaches taught me most of what I know about lifting,” he said. Having been taught power and Olympic lifting styles by coaches, Lau is confident in the benefits of weightlifting.

“There are benefits to lifting weights no matter what your goals are and since my background is in power lifting, Olympic lifting, that’s what I specialize in,” said Lau. He defines power lifting as squats, dead lifts and bench presses, saying they “have been around since forever because they work. Those multi-joint compound lifts is what I focus on with my clients and making sure that they are able to perform those exercises properly and safely.”

Lau’s clients include students and Sheridan faculty alike, but he sees less of students due to their busy schedules. “I usually take them on in the beginning (of the school year) and hopefully give them enough information as I can about the gym for them to stay,” said Lau.

“My most consistent clients are faculty who are at Sheridan on a consistent basis and are able to afford that time.”

Since his first year at Sheridan, Lau has been working in the gym, initially behind the front desk and then control room attendant.

It was during this time that Tom Hipsz, the Sheridan Athletics centre’s recreational co-ordinator, presented him with the idea of becoming a certified personal trainer.

“He was very diligent in his training and wanted to take it to the next level,” said Hipsz.

Certified by Canfitpro in October, Lau had to start promoting himself. That’s where his background in illustration helped him.

He designed his own posters. “I went through a few iterations before I noticed a jump in clients,” said Lau.

“Learning how to design and advertise myself as a personal trainer meshed the two fields together and knowing how to advertise yourself is very important for illustrators as well.”

The Sheridan Athletics centre has its own marketing personnel but with his skills in illustration, Lau prefers to take it in his own hands.

“He would do a better job with the skills that he has at making a poster than, say, I would,” said Hipsz. “If someone has the skill set, why not use it?”

Lau considers his work in the fitness industry only a “secondary skill” and he has his sights set on illustration and drawing.

“That’s what I hope to do eventually. I have an interest in anything mechanical. I like drawing people, I like drawing anatomy, whatever job that allows me to do that will be fantastic.”