【International Voices in NTUCE】(EP02) Unveiling the Unlikely Luis Lin’s journey from Civil Engineering to Fitness Entrepreneurship

Interviewee: Luis Lin
Interviewer: Milan Ortiz 

In this extensive exploration, we dive into the transformative journey of Luis Lin, a Panamanian  who, against all expectations, transitioned from working as a Civil Engineer to becoming a successful personal trainer and entrepreneur in Taiwan.


In the vast landscape of personal and professional growth, stories like Luis Lin’s stand out as  compelling narratives of self-discovery and perseverance. Having set foot in Taiwan 15 years ago  with the intent to learn Chinese and pursue higher education, Luis’s journey took an unexpected  turn. This article unpacks his academic endeavors, the pivotal decision to shift from civil  engineering to personal training, the challenges encountered along the way, and the rewards reaped  through entrepreneurial pursuits.

Academic Adventures at NTU 

After studying Chinese for a year at Taichung, the National Taiwan University (NTU) served as Luis’s academic home, its expansive campus and vibrant cultural setting shaping his educational journey. Yet, this period wasn’t devoid of challenges, particularly when confronted with the demanding standards of subjects like Physics and Calculus. The educational contrast between Taiwan and Latin America presented a significant obstacle, since the educational systems in Taiwan generally exhibit higher academic performance and rigorous standards compared to those in many Latin American countries, where challenges such as disparities in resources, infrastructure, and educational quality may hinder overall academic outcomes. Luis adjusted his study methods after facing challenges in the first semester, focusing more on achieving success in exams rather thanmastering every detail of the course content. His subsequent years at NTU were a dynamic blend of challenges and triumphs, revealing the resilience that would come to define his career.  Luis’s reflections emphasize that his education went beyond just attending classes, he adopted a result-oriented learning approach. Failing a subject in the first semester was a crucial moment prompting him to reevaluate how he studied. This led to a strategic shift from mastering all the content to focusing on exam preparation, marking a turning point that influenced his academic path.

Choosing Personal Training Over Engineering 

The post-graduation phase presented Luis with a crossroads. Having worked for two years in  construction management with American Institute in Taiwan, he found himself discontented with the dynamics of administrative engineering work, and was already yearning for more. The revelation that he wanted to be an entrepreneur, brought on by the discontent and the eagerness to do more, and his latent interest in fitness, propelled him towards a career shift. A certified spinning instructor, Luis embarked on a five-year journey that culminated in him becoming a professional fitness instructor and, eventually, a freelancer. The decision to choose personal training wasn’t just a career move; it was a lifestyle choice that allowed him the freedom and time he craved.

Navigating Career Transitions 

While career transitions often come with an abundance of challenges, Luis’s shift from engineering to personal training was remarkably smooth, having already secured the spinning instructor job before leaving the American Institute of Technology. The main challenge he faced was reconciling with the perceived ‘wasted time’ spent in university and his initial years as an engineer. The realization, however, that his choice of pursuing a civil engineering degree was more idealistic than practical, paved the way for acceptance and growth. Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic (with fitness centers closed and reduced classes), Luis remained focused on his goals, and over the last few months, he states that there has been a gradual return to normalcy.

The Rewards of Reinvention 

Post-transition, Luis’s journey as a personal trainer unfolded as a series of rewarding milestones.  Acquiring certifications marked a significant achievement, allowing him to dive into one-on-one training sessions. The true fulfillment, however, lies in witnessing the positive transformations in his clients’ lives as they adopt healthier habits and embrace lifestyle changes. Beyond the professional realm, the newfound freedom to manage his time, coupled with an ongoing commitment to personal health and physical fitness, brought a sense of holistic accomplishment.

Future Aspirations and Entrepreneurial Dreams 

In envisioning his future, Luis encounters a broader spectrum of possibilities for his dreams. His aspirations extend beyond individual training sessions, aiming to build a fitness and health-centered  enterprise—potentially a gym or studio. His ambition transcends personal success, focusing on creating a platform where collaboration with a team can yield a lasting impact. Aware of the impermanence of a career linked to personal physical condition, Luis strategically lays the groundwork for a business that not only aligns with his passions but also ensures financial security for his retirement in the years to come.

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Entrepreneurs 

For those venturing down a similar path, Luis shares valuable advice drawn from his own journey.  Stressing the significance of self-reflection, he encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to scrutinize their desires and motivations. Instead of yielding to societal or parental expectations, Luis promotes decision-making based on personal aspirations. He recognizes the inevitability of mistakes in the journey but assures them that following one’s instincts is a worthwhile pursuit in the grand scheme of things. Luis’s counsel serves as a compass, guiding individuals towards authenticity and resilience in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams.

Unraveling the Threads of Career Transition 

Delving deeper into Luis’s career transition reveals a nuanced and intricate journey. His choice to shift from a stable construction management job to the uncertain realm of personal training wasn’t

merely a change in career; it represented a profound transformation in his lifestyle. Luis’s realization that he desired to be an entrepreneur highlights the importance of aligning professional choices with personal dreams.

The concept of ‘wasted time’ during his engineering years resonates with many young professionals facing a common dilemma. Luis’s story becomes a reflection of the universal struggle to balance societal expectations with personal aspirations. Accepting the idealistic nature of his initial career choice offers a valuable lesson for those grappling with similar uncertainties.  The pandemic introduces a contemporary layer to Luis’s narrative, emphasizing the essential quality of adaptability in the face of unforeseen challenges. His journey serves as a testament to resilience and the capacity to navigate change, providing inspiration for others navigating their unique professional paths in these unpredictable times.

Conclusion: A Mosaic of Resilience and Vision 

In unraveling the intricate threads of Luis Lin’s journey, his story emerges as a rich tapestry, woven with elements of resilience, self-discovery, and vision. Spanning the challenges of cultural adaptation at NTU to the complexities of career transitions and the ambitious brushstrokes of entrepreneurial dreams, Luis’s narrative transcends individual experiences. It transforms into a story that resonates with young students that are still figuring out their own path, providing insights into the common struggles faced in navigating academic pursuits, career decisions, and the quest for meaningful and fulfilling lives.

As Luis forges ahead in the realm of fitness entrepreneurship, his narrative extends beyond personal triumph. It becomes a wellspring of inspiration for those embarking on their unique journeys. His experiences serve as a guiding light, offering lessons and encouragement to individuals navigating the labyrinth of their aspirations, reaffirming that challenges are not roadblocks but stepping stones towards personal and professional growth.