So I am coming to the end of my time here at ACLAÍ in the next couple of weeks and what better way to finish it off than to sum up my experience in one last blog! For those of you reading this who don’t know me, I am currently a Sport and Exercise Science student in the University of Limerick and I started working in ACLAÍ back in January as part of my 3rd year cooperative work placement. I first heard about ACLAÍ through a family friend who had trained at ACLAÍ in order to recover from an injury and they spoke very highly of their experience. At this time I was researching different places where I could possibly do my placement and ACLAÍ was only 10 minutes away from my home in Monkstown so I decided to call in and check it out! What I saw on my first visit to ACLAÍ was a top class gym set up, a welcoming environment and the people I met were highly professional and also very friendly which made me feel at ease straight away. I not only liked the vibe I first got in the gym but also the fact that the owner, Ainle, and all of the coaches were of a Sport and Exercise Science background which made it a lot more specialised and unique from other gyms I have been to. So I decided after that very first visit that I would love to be a part of the ACLAÍ team for the duration of my work placement. And looking back on it now, I don’t regret a thing as it has given me valuable experience which I will take with me for the rest of my working career.
Firstly I just want to address the core values here at ACLAÍ and what makes it different from any other generic gym or fitness centre out there. The system in place at ACLAÍ focuses on restoring functional movement (getting you moving as efficiently as possible), balance and strength. This isn’t one of those gyms where you join for 6 weeks, make massive changes to your habits and then go back to your old lifestyle once you’ve finished. We slowly build positive lifestyle habits that will hopefully last a lifetime, including whole-food nutrition that will keep you healthy for years and a goal setting system that will bring you step by step, all the way to your ultimate goal. Our training is tailor built to suit the needs and abilities of each individual client and our clients range from post injury rehab clients, elite sports performers, health and fitness orientated clients and many more so there is something for everyone here at ACLAÍ. These values are exactly what made ACLAÍ so appealing to me to apply for a placement here and these are the values which I will take with me when I leave.
My main responsibilities at ACLAÍ ranged from writing health and fitness blog posts for the website, gathering client testimonials, helping with developing individual programs for clients, making training folders for new clients, keeping on top of social media posts (instagram, twitter etc), keeping the gym and changing rooms tidy etc. But of course my main responsibility was coaching personal training sessions and I must admit that the coaching was the main source of enjoyment for me throughout my placement. I really enjoyed getting to know people and creating personal relationships with each individual client at ACLAÍ and helping them as best I could to reach their goals. What’s nice about ACLAÍ is the range of people you meet from all different walks of life and they all have their own unique individual goals, from people who just want to shed a few pounds, people recovering from surgery, or elite athletes who are training for major competitions. Therefore, every session is different and there is a different variety of people to coach in every session which I found challenging but also very rewarding. Also, from when I started back in January compared to now, I feel like I have come on leaps and bounds in terms of my coaching ability. When I started I had very little experience but now, I feel very confident in my ability to coach and to provide a quality service to every client that walks in the door at ACLAÍ.
Therefore, I have developed and improved a wide variety of skills throughout my placement at ACLAÍ. First and foremost, my interpersonal skills have improved immensely as I had to interact with people on a daily basis. This skill has allowed me to participate effectively as part of a team, satisfy clients’ expectations, and build rapport with clients and fellow employees which all lead to a better and more efficient working environment. Another skill which I have developed is my communication skills. I had to communicate verbally with the clients during their training sessions very clearly so there was no misunderstanding or so clients didn’t injure themselves during the sessions. Other skills which I have acquired are leadership skills as I had to take a strong, confident, leadership role as a coach in order to motivate the clients towards the achievement of their goals. I also developed my IT skills as I had to use various software to carry out administrative work and to edit the website. And finally, my critical thinking skills (solving problems and making decisions) has also improved as sometimes clients came into sessions with an injury or may not be feeling 100% and I needed to think on my feet and modify their program for that particular session. These are just a few of the main skills which I have developed throughout my time here at ACLAÍ, I could be here all day! But the bottom line is, I have come away with all of these skills which I can take into any work place in the future. This work experience has given me the basis to be confident in my working abilities and that is something that I will be forever grateful for going forward in my working career.
So, to finish off, for anyone reading this who may be considering applying for their work placement at ACLAÍ or knows someone who would, I would highly recommend it! As I have said above, it has given me valuable working experience and I have developed a wide variety of skills which will stay with me for the rest of my working career. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my time here at ACLAÍ and the people that I have met along the way, from all of the clients whom I have gotten to know over these past few months and the relationships I have built with my fellow coaches, Shane, Mark, and Shakira. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ainle for allowing me to part of the ACLAÍ team, and for giving me a rewarding experience which I know will benefit me as I progress in the sport and exercise science field, wherever that may lead me!
So that’s it! Goodbye everyone! I’ll make sure to keep in touch!