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Studying fitness online with Open Colleges: “Jump in and give it a go!”

by Yvette Maurice

Anytime Fitness has taken Australia by storm as one of the freshest fitness brands around. It has over one million members worldwide and an active online and club community. The company’s business model is different: Anytime Fitness allows members to work out around the clock, whenever it suits them – a lot like the flexibility students enjoy when studying an online course with Open Colleges.

This means that Anytime Fitness and Open Colleges are a great match! Recently, the OC Blog announced the new partnership between these brands, with ten Anytime Fitness clubs across Northern NSW signing on to take Open Colleges fitness students who need to do a practical work placement as part of their Certificate III or IV in Fitness.

Work placements are a big part of many Open Colleges courses that have a practical component. Basically any course you undertake that encompasses practical skills (such as allied health, beauty therapy or veterinary nursing) will give you credit towards your course for gaining real life skills at a physical working environment. To make the job of finding a suitable placement easier, Open Colleges now employs several fulltime workplace support team members.

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The equipment at an Anytime Fitness club

We spoke to Jarrod Schaded, the regional personal training manager for Anytime Fitness, who works in Green Hills, East Maitland in NSW, about what it’s like to gain employment in the fitness industry and what students should expect from a work placement. He took us through what Open Colleges’ students could expect.

Jarrod is a fit bloke by anyone’s measure. As a kid, he says, he was into all kinds of sports. “Growing up I played every sport under the sun,” says Jarrod, “so getting into the fitness industry was quite a natural progression.”

He turned his passion into his career. “Being fit and healthy really pushed me down that path,” he explains. Jarrod found that once he had left school, he was working out at the gym five times a week, “I thought, what would be better than being paid to there?” Jarrod explains. “The next step was to work in the gym and now I live my passion.”

Jarrod says that seeing the impact his training has on others is one of the best parts of his job. “Some of my clients have a lot of weight to lose,” explains Jarrod.

“When (one of my clients) showed me their before and after photos – I got goosebumps. I realised that I had really made a big difference to his life.”

Over the years, Jarrod has trained people from all walks of life, remembering, “One of my first clients lost 30 kilos!” Jarrod told us that for the first three months, his client “trained like a demon but wouldn’t take on the nutrition side of things.”

Seeing a solution, Jarrod was able to give him the advice he needed to achieve all-round health. “Once I got him to do that, we got some really good results,” says Jarrod. “I went to my client’s house for a barbeque where he showed me photos of what he used to look like.” Seeing that his client had had a real physical transformation impacted Jarrod. “He was a different person,” enthuses the trainer.

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It’s not just the physical transformation of their clients that gets fitness trainers and PTs excited, says Jarrod, but the deeper repercussions of overhauling their clients’ lifestyles. “I love the emotional sense as well,” says Jarrod, “…the fact that you are giving your clients the confidence to wear a tight shirt or get to the beach in a bikini.”

It’s no secret that Australia is in the midst of an obesity crisis. Looking at statistics used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2012, 63.4 per cent of Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese, up from 56 per cent in 1995.

The fitness industry is booming. A survey done by Fitness Australia showed that the sector is worth more than $1.2 billion a year in Australia. There are 5522 registered fitness professionals in Sydney alone and over 200 gyms. Other states report similar figures based on population size.

There has never been a better time to get into the fitness industry but many people don’t realise that you can achieve a Certificate III or IV in Fitness by studying online, often while you hold down another job. This is exactly what many Open Colleges students do.

What would Jarrod’s advice be to those who are thinking about getting into the fitness industry?

“If you are passionate about it and it’s a part of your lifestyle why not make it a permanent part of your life and do it for a job?” says Jarrod. “Doing something you love doesn’t feel like a job as much!”

In fact, explains Jarrod, it’s not just “six foot tall guys with six packs” that make good fitness trainers, as the industry opens up and more and more people seek help and advice for their health, PTs and trainers from all walks of life have entered the industry.

“We have a 57-year-old female trainer and she has a great market because the older population of baby boomers has made so many bad lifestyle choices for so long,” says Jarrod. “They present at their doctors with type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure and so there is a market out there for training a lot of different people.”

Jarrod is passionate about overall health: “Don’t just think of fitness,” he says, “think of overall wellbeing- that goes down to physical wellbeing and emotional, social – they all come under that fitness bracket.” Jarrod says it’s important for trainers to heed this message themselves, too. “You don’t need a six pack to be a trainer, but obviously you have to practice what you preach. The more you learn, the more you can work on your own training as well.”

Anytime Fitness has carved out a place in the Australian market as an innovative health provider. “The direction we are taking means that we are trying to stay ahead of the curve and move with the industry, so a lot of our equipment is cutting edge. We have a CrossCore180s which are the next step from TRXs, a type of suspension training.”

Jarrod explains that these forms of exercise are “stepping away from just weights and cardio and moving into the functional scene. We use a lot of kettle bells and dead balls and do basic movements like squats and dead lifting.”

So, how do work placements work with Open Colleges students and Anytime Fitness? Karin Rule, head of faculty of health and wellness, says that this new partnership will make it easier for students doing the Certificate III or IV in Fitness to secure practical work experience and may even help them to gain employment down the line, although this is never guaranteed.

“We are very excited about the partnership between Open Colleges and Anytime Fitness as it provides a fantastic opportunity for our students to access work placements, particularly for those living in rural and regional NSW. We are proud to be associated with such a professional and far-reaching partner that is committed to the fitness industry, and is supporting our students to become high achieving and successful graduates.”

Jarrod has a couple more pieces of advice for prospective fitness students. “You don’t need to have all the information in the world to start with,” he explains. “We’ve all got to start somewhere! The only way to get experience is to get started!”

The PT continues, “The biggest thing is having the right attitude. If you’ve got the right attitude and you do the basics you should be successful. And you can learn the rest!”

So what does Jarrod think the top three personality traits a good personal trainer needs?

“Motivation, passion and being self-driven,” he answers.

“The best thing you can do is to keep an open mind when you step out of your course,” he says, “In the Cert III and Cert IV you’ve got a really good foundation. That foundation is something to grow on and to learn more, and to better yourself. Everything in the Cert III and Cert IV is for your benefit to understand what you need to do give you the info to do everything safely and effectively.”

So, would Jarrod recommend doing a fitness course online with a work placement at Anytime Fitness?

“Yeah, jump in give it a go!” says the PT. “There’s  a lot of work experience involved in the Cert III and the Cert IV so you get to trial it and see if you like the environment of being in a club – I guarantee you’ll love helping people, that’s for sure!”

If you would like more information please contact Cheree Quon, Open Colleges Workplace Support Officer on cheree.quon@opencolleges.edu.au

To sign up for a SIS30310 Certificate III in Fitness or a SIS40210 Certificate IV in Fitness simply click on the links to get started.

Search more health and fitness courses here.

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