What is the Community Activator qualification really about?
As a tutor and assessor, who has been working in the fitness industry for 12 years I have always been surrounded by individuals who love fitness. They enjoy exercise, attend fitness classes or the gym, have the latest trainers or fitness calorie counting app. Some have been so inspired by fitness and the benefits they have decided to start a career in the fitness industry. You have some people who want a career change, some teenagers who love sport and want to incorporate a practical qualification into their study plan, whilst others love the community aspect. But one thing everyone has in common, is they network, socialise and have something in common with other fitness lovers regardless of their discipline. It is easy for us all to connect to other like-minded individuals.
When I was asked to attend a day to support Robin Gargrave with his Community Activator qualification, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is a funded project that engages local individuals with mental or physical conditions in Tower Hamlets to get out in the community and volunteer to promote health and fitness. They are given the practical tools to lead basic workout sessions, and provide one to one advice with locals. Support is given on how to get out into the community and outreach to the physically inactive. The whole project is provided by funders.
Ad-Lib Training doesn’t get involved in the recruitment of the volunteers, so it is always a nice surprise to see what fun characters Robin will be delivering to, and I must say, after spending one day visiting the course they are a great group of characters, full of laughter, supporting one another, very interactive and enjoy a little bit of cheeky banter with the leaders.
This group was a specialist group with a mixture of males and females with additional learning needs. They were all aged 50+ in order to get older adults exercising more in Tower Hamlets. Fifteen individuals have been funded.
I probably didn’t select the best day to attend, as it was the last day of learning before their assessment, so the nervous questions were getting fired at Robin as they prepare for the assessment.
The venue was great; the Bromley-By-Bow Centre had friendly staff, a lovely café and was very busy. It is definitely a working centre within the community. They had an apprentice helping with the course, which was also inspiring. He was very helpful and provided a great support to all the leaders and the group. He had built a nice rapport with the students. Helping them with their worksheets for assessment, acting as a scribe.
As soon as I arrived, I got the horrible shock of having to participate in role-play in front of the group. My worst nightmare. Role-play has never been at the top of my loves when learning, but I had no choice but to get over it. The group had to persuade me to get more active. The suggestions, advise and options they gave me were great. They really listened to my ‘needs, likes and dislikes’ and even corrected Robin at some points. Their questions really made me think about how I am really engaging people to get active in my area. The people coming to my classes have already got to the mindset they need to make change, but these individuals are taking on the brave task of increasing the awareness of physical activity options in their area to individuals not even contemplating activity yet. The considerations they were demonstrating in their questioning about the social aspects, medication, GP referrals etc. really highlighted how they have a connection with the people we need to get physically active. Even though they may not all be rockin' the six-pack or own the coolest leggings, they have the connection with this target group a trendy yogi instructor, latest boutique fitness instructor, social media ‘nutritionist’ or Personal Trainer could never achieve. With Physical Inactivity being one of the largest causes of death in developed countries, costing the UK £7.4 billion annually (UKActive figures as of 11th July 2016). This is massive. We are lucky there are some (emphasis only on some) funding opportunities which allows us to try and appeal to this target audience, but the high turnover of instructors training providers currently produce won’t have the skills or life experience we need to tap into this area. We need a different type of instructor. We need to find individuals like the Community Activator group and invest in them to help their local communities. Why not incorporate community activation into current qualifications. It would be a great additional module to the level 2 offerings.
It is a challenge, but extremely rewarding if achieved. What can you do to help the nation?
It has inspired me to offer some free sessions over the summer, to try and get individuals #PhysicalActivity
One of the best elements of the day was returning home to find out one of them had snuck onto my tablet to Google “The best exercises for a double chin”. Apart from the silly conversation with my husband questioning why he had googled that on my tablet for him to be a little insulted I was suggesting he had put on weight, it provided me with loads of giggles once I had realised. Thank you to the team for having me and Good Luck for your assessments on the 18th July 2016.
By Kt Horsley-Page (Tutor, Assessor)