On Saturday morning I took the last part of my assessment to become a Level 2 gym instructor and I’m very happy to say that I passed.
It’s something I’ve been working on since September, learning through books and online tutorials about anatomy and physiology, then the principles of fitness and planning a programme. I sat a couple of theory exams in November and presented a load of course work at the end of January, so the final element was to take someone into a gym environment and demonstrate a workout and to be assessed on that.
I was incredibly nervous. It felt way out of my comfort zone and I so wanted to do well. For the past couple of weeks people around me have been telling me I’d be fine, I’d breeze it, I’d put the work in, I’d be sure to pass. And that’s really nice to hear, especially from people whose opinions you trust and people who have themselves taken similar fitness qualifications.
But still, I couldn’t be sure. I’m very good at book learning, recalling facts and demonstrating that I understand the principles behind them. But I’m far less comfortable with practical tasks. And with so much of this course being conducted online, with no direct contact with the teachers, I hadn’t had the chance to see what they were expecting.
I knew I knew it, but could I show it? It was a bit like sitting an interview or taking your driving test. There are things you have to demonstrate safely, but also things you have to remember to show you are doing, like observing the client, getting feedback on the level of exercise, making sure they understand.
Luckily my client for the day, Erika was very understanding as we got to the assessment centre very early and sat waiting in the reception area. Nerves were absolutely on edge as I spotted other people going in for assessment and my time came and no one had been over.
But it was fine. They were just a little delayed and I got chance to look around the gym and check out a couple of the machines before the assessment proper.
The gym is just a regular community gym, rather a nice one actually, but we had to work around other people there using the equipment. That meant I didn’t do things in the order I’d planned in my head. But once I got going, I was fine. I got into the swing of demonstrating and instructing, moving around to watch from different positions and pick up on key posture and teaching points.
The time flew and a couple of times the assessor asked us to move onto the next exercise. As we came to the last set of weights, both machines I’d planned to use were busy, so he asked if I could substitute another one. I even managed to cope with that.
And suddenly we were stretching and it was done. A bit of feedback in a side room, a couple of questions for me to answer based on the session and then the good news that I’d passed. The assessor even asked if I’d thought about taking it on to the next level.
The qualification itself would allow me to go and work in a gym and create weight and cardio programmes for clients, show them how to do exercises safely. And now I have the basics, I could top it up with something like a 1 or 2 day course to teach spinning or an exercise class. But ultimately I’d like to go down the personal training route. So that’s something to focus on in future.
For now, it’s been my first step into seeing if I could do it. If I could manage the demands of working full time, studying under my own guidance and still keeping up with my own interests and training. And I have. And I’ve learned a lot along the way.
This is something I wouldn’t even have thought of doing a few years ago, but I have really enjoyed it and it’s tested me. I’ve had loads of support, particularly from Ian who first made me think about doing it, and Simon from the gym at work who gave up his time so I could run through a couple of practice sessions.
Erika was a brilliant test client, putting up with loads of form filling and getting hot and sweaty on a treadmill. She must have been sick of hearing me by the end of the assessment. And my running pal Diane gave me a big confidence boost when we managed to work out together at the gym. Needless to say, Gary has supported me too and seen first hand the frustrations at not getting things right first time, or my nervousness about taking the exams.
So, if you offered to help me out, sent me a good luck message or tweet, a massive thank you.