Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What is it like? ... to be a personal trainer

Matt is 22, he is tall, fit and trains hard. He loves his job, and has been in the industry for a year.

So how did he become to be a personal trainer?

"I sort of fell into it. I have always been involved in sport, so when I wasn't working and looked into TAFE courses I saw fitness and thought it would be a good fit. I ended up loving it."

Is it hard to find work?

Matt laughs "It is very hard to find work! If you're experienced in marketing it would be easier, but since I had none I felt lost. I didn't have the skills to find work and clients, and advertise myself."

Matt explains how he trains his clients,and how to train in general.

"I try to change everything every couple of weeks. I do a few sessions of the exercise so the client can become better, and then keep increasing and making it harder. I spend a lot of time looking at programs and trying to find ways to make it harder every time. Most of the time you're researching and going over notes."

So why is Matt going it alone?

"I used to work for a fitness company but I find working for myself so much better as I like to organize the programs for clients myself. Most companies just give you a set workout to do, but I don't like that. I want to rely on my own knowledge, that's half the fun of it. If someone tells you what to do, it's boring." 

What's it like being your own boss?

"It's hard to get motivated sometimes, but otherwise it's good because you can work around your own schedule."

So what is it like working one on one with people?

"Some people share too much! I get life stories out of people. People tend to talk a lot."

So does Matt see himself continuing as a personal trainer in 5 years?

"I do, I have more confidence in myself now, I am confident in my training abilities. It's just my marketing and advertising abilities I need to work on. I would definitely choose this profession again, if I had my time over. I have had a lot of jobs and it's the only one I've loved."

Does personal training pay well?

"It has the potential to pay well. The busier you are, the better you're paid."

What is Matt's advice to other aspiring personal trainers?

"Confidence. Also, do your research on marketing and advertising yourself if you want to do it alone."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What is it like? ... to be a teacher

Sitting down with a coffee, Ian Johnston was relaxed and keen to talk about a career that has been close to his heart.

"The reason I got into teaching was because I liked the idea of helping kids out. I had a couple of good teachers myself at school and they were very inspiring to me, so I wanted to have that effect on younger people. Also, teaching runs in my family."

Teaching is not what Ian thought it would be, with his private schooling keeping him in a social bubble. When venturing out into the 'real world', it was a different story.

"All the students at my school got along with the teachers, we rarely had any problems in class; everything was awesome. Going out into the real world, there are a lot of different hurdles you need to overcome with students from different backgrounds, and issues from home they bring to school.

Ian also describes how bad bullying is, and not just among students. "Even between the teachers there is bullying, it's like a bullying storm!"

Ian has never experienced bullying himself from teachers, but says teaching is a lot like being at school with teachers forming cliques and hanging out together.

"I have felt looked down upon by other teachers in the past in certain schools and departments, but on the whole I get along with most teachers" 

When asked what his expectations were going into teaching, Ian found that it was a lot different to what he imagined.

"I expected a lot more respect from students than what was given at the start. Kids have a lot more rights than we did as kids so they get away with more, which means they don't fear authority as much as we did. I have had a lot of rewarding experiences with teaching like going overseas which was amazing.

"I grew up with my mother who is a teacher, so I got to see what she did which meant I wasn't completely thrown into the deep end. I would have to say on a whole, teaching probably did meet the expectations I had set"

Teaching is a busy and varied role, with getting to the school half an hour before role call to set up, if a teacher is late it means helping out in their place. During the day Ian needs to make sure he sticks to his plan he has written for the class as much as possible, as well as duties he is allocated.

"Every teacher is allocated a duty, so one day you can be out during lunch or recess, or after school bus duties. There is always something to do"

I asked Ian about THAT myth: do teachers get to bludge during the holidays?

"I like to get all my work done at the beginning, whereas most teachers will space it out over a longer period of time. I will usually get 80% of my holidays to myself, but in my situation I want to get back to work as I don't get paid for holidays"

Ian explains that his style of teaching seems to cut through any problems he may have with the kids, as he is laid back.

"I rarely have any problems in the classroom with students as I am a very laid back teacher, and the students know that my line is a lot higher than most teachers, so let them get away with a lot more. But in saying that, they know when I am serious so they will generally calm down."

"You just have to have consistency with the students, and always follow through with what you say. You can't threaten them with a punishment and then not follow through if they do something they aren't mean to."

So, is it hard to find work?

"Yes, hence the reason I am leaving teaching. I have been out teaching for six years and still haven't found full time work. I have gotten blocks of work, where I work a maternity leave term which is good because it is consistent, but now I am back to day-to-day casual teaching.

"I usually wait by my phone at around 6am for a call or text. If nothing comes through then my day is free."

Ian usually has to bridge the gap between jobs, so will have to find a second job. Being a casual teacher means no pay during the school holidays which can be hard. The holidays at the end of the year are hardest with 5-6 weeks without pay.

"I went to a private college when I left school that trained P.E teachers, and they told me 95% of graduates went on to find full time work. I quickly found out when I graduated that there was a huge backlog of students wanting to be P.E teachers, and there was a 5-10 year waiting list"

"It is such a well sought after position, that teachers stay in the job well past retirement age and literally have to get pushed out of the job. If I had my time over, I probably would have chosen something else, but I don't regret it"

Although it is hard to find work, and dealing with some problematic students, Ian is quick to reiterate teaching is still a rewarding experience.

"Even with everything, like marking assignments, having work piled up on you at the last second, it's all cancelled out when you see you're helping a student and they're getting something out of it. You don't often get that, but when you do it makes everything worthwhile"

So would Ian return to teaching in the future?

"It's a door that will always be open to me, and they are predicting a shortage of teachers over the next 20 years, because the new system they have introduced to make it harder to get into the profession. I have decided to join the police force, which gives me the opportunity to be a teacher within the force"

"There are heaps of different avenues I can go down in teaching like university lecturer etc, so I would always keep that door open as I love teaching, but the instability at the moment in inconsistent with where I am in life"

So, what advice does Ian have for people looking to embark on a teaching career?

"My first response would be don't do it, but I know people do have their hearts set on teaching and it is a very rewarding experience. It's a lot of hard work and dedication, but if you're committed it can be a very good career. It has its perks with holidays, the pay is pretty good, too.

There is the whole immediate uncertainty with new teachers, they have to jump through a lot of hoops, put in the hard yards before they can establish themselves and get the full time work

"But I would also say go for it, if that's your dream. Just be prepared to work hard"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What is it like? ... to have a stroke

Dee Weston sits at his computer with his back to me, playing Cafe World. He is nervous about talking about his condition, the new world he has been forced to adapt to, but has still not quite come to terms with 3 years later.

At first glance, Dee is a formidable character. As he gets his past initial hesitations, he becomes passionate. He is a large man, with a handle bar mustache many find intimidating but he is a gentle man nonetheless, fighting a tough battle.  

"I had my stroke in March 2010, and to this day I am still trying to find a normal life" Dee's words echo in my mind. He lives in a fog, trying to make sense of his new reality. 

"I feel very confused," He says, searching for the right words. "People close to me still can't accept me the way I am"

Since leaving work, Dee's new life is pottering around his home, working in the garden or playing online games to keep his mind active. He has good days, and bad days. "Staying home is boring. It's hard and strange getting through the day"

Dee is desperate to get back to work, but the stroke has stopped him from being able to work as his left side is weak and often sore. "You have no idea how much I'd love to go back to work. I have taken so many medications to help me, but I just can't."

Dee is a first generation Australian, as his family migrated to Australia. The one part of the stroke that has taken him by surprise was that the German language came flooding back.

"I find most days I will use a German phrase without realizing" He also says his spelling has improved slightly. 

So what caused the stoke that changed his life so irrevocably?

"I was a heavy drinker, smoker and workaholic. My career in security meant I got a lot of blows to the head that also may have contributed"

The biggest change to his personality Dee feels is his mood swings. "I would have to say being angry at the drop of a hat! Definitely more short-tempered."

His speech, like many stroke victims, is still a difficulty in his life. A stutter makes it hard for him speak normally, causing a great deal of frustration. Dee describes this as the hardest part of the condition.

So, what was it like to have the stroke? "I remember I had a very bad flu. I stood up to go outside, and fell back into my chair"

When asked what advice he had for others, his answer was simple. "I just don't know; I haven't figured out the answer to that"


Saturday, May 25, 2013

What is it like?

I have been perusing a few webpages the last few days, buzzing around for inspiration. I read a few lists that had some ideas and inspiration hit! I have decided to base this blog on the premise of what is it like? meaning, what is it like to do a certain job, have a certain disability or simply what is it like to be a female or male.

I'd love to hear your ideas on what you'd like to read. Just so you know, I work in the media so I might be able to get an interview with a journalist/newsreader if that is what you'd like to read! Let me know in the comments, as I will be uploading these interviews ideally once a week on a Friday (I will upload a short message if I am unable to post for whatever reason)

I hope you guys enjoy my blog, and I welcome critique, ideas and feedback. Just be kind!

- A.S