I started working at The Mai-Wel Group’s Transition to Work (TTW) Program, developing training sessions for our clients, who are young people with a disability, around work related topics that helped to improve their transition from school to employment.
Some of the topics covered included reverse marketing for employment, through cold calling. I also covered the expectations that employers have for new employees, and the responsibilities that new employees have themselves, including keeping up personal appearances and having a good attitude at work.
I was then lucky enough to be approached by Mark Newton to apply for a Health and Fitness Instructor position in Mai-Wel’s Pro Active Inside ‘N Out Program. Mark was the author of Pro-Active, which originated from his idea that staff and supported employees can be fit and healthy at work.
During my interview for the position, which I got, Mark commented on the tremendous rapport that I had built with many of the clients in the TTW Program. Along with my ability to build that rapport, I feel my education also helped me to secure the role. I have a Certificate III in Fitness as part of a TAFE Plus program at the University of Newcastle and I’ve also completed a Business degree.
My previous role as Operations Assistant at Elgas in West Gosford has also given me experience in dealing with all types of customers. This is experience that I believe has allowed me to relate to the staff and clients at Mai-Wel, and to demonstrate a genuine interest in their challenges and issues.
On a daily basis I travel to The Mai-Wel Group’s head office in Telarah to greet and energise our supported employees for the day’s fitness program. Many clients are waiting for me when I get to the door wearing their green and black Pro-Active shirts and I listen to their stories while I mark off who is sick, at a doctor’s appointment or in the bathroom.
As we walk out of the building a few clients like to ascertain who will be sitting in the front seat of the bus (which is a very popular position). Once a head count is done I usually ask the clients where they would like to do their exercise on that particular day. Once a location is chosen I base the day’s program on what is at that location. For example, at Maitland Walka Water Works there is a bush track which really tests the clients’ cardiovascular levels. There are lots of hills and the clients feel like they are getting away from it all in the serenity of the bush landscape.
On other occasions we may go to Maitland Park to do some resistance training with strength bands and we’ll also utilise the tables, chairs and fences to complete some tricep dips or push ups. Variety is the key and the clients can remove a lot of their frustrations by putting their energy into the rigorous fitness activities.
After taking the supported employees back to their workplaces I usually have time to write a quick program and then I’ll head over to our local fitness club to work with a client or staff member to develop a fitness program tailored to their goals, in a 1:1 session.
At 3:30pm I’ll collect some more supported employees from The Mai-Wel Group’s head office and will take a specific gym group to the local fitness club. This is a large group and many of them like to do various activities around the gym. I try to focus the majority of them in the fitness room where we use barbells, dumbbells and fitness balls to work on our strength. On other occasions the clients work on interval training on the bikes or rowing machines.
Between 4:30pm and 5:30pm I supervise and assist staff with their programs. Just recently I have been working with a group of female staff who are completing an abs, butt, calf and thigh routine. Some days I run a boot camp for staff where we utilise local amenities, such as our local railway station, which has many steps and tests endurance and stamina.
I have gained a wonderful understanding through my position about the lives of supported employees and their interests, and through them I’ve learnt to understand that it is the little things in life that are the most important. For many of us a walk in the park is something that we may do easily, however for clients it is an outlet and something they look forward to on a daily basis.
Health and Fitness Instructor
- TRUE STORIES: Joseph Majambere – Supporting people from all backgrounds to become who they wish to be.