“It’s OVER!” – usually when you here that, tears ensue, perhaps depression sets in and you wonder how will you survive. In this case, the only tears are that of joy, relief has set in and I look back and wonder – how did I survive?
For the past 16 weeks, I have been working 60+ hours a week to finish an internship as part of my Bachelors in Exercise & Sport Science. For 16 long weeks I have worked my regular money-making career position from 8am to 5pm, then put in a 530-10pm (9pm on Fridays) shift at a fitness center. During this time, I’ve run 4 Half Marathons, a few local races, and missed out on so many nights with my family.
It seems like so long ago I began this journey, but really it was December, immediately following Christmas. I remember when I started I thought it would be exciting and enlightening and fly by. I was wrong. Working at a fitness center at night is about as profound as working in a morgue (I assume there is just as much going on there after 7pm).
I never fancied myself the sensitive type, but there were nights I fought back tears. It could have been exhaustion, PMS, or just feeling like an outsider. I found that approaching people to ask if they needed help, offering to demonstrate alternative exercises, or god forbid, correct their form to prevent injury – well it was not only out of my comfort zone, I felt rejected whenever they dismissed me, declined my assistance, or outright ignored me. I suppose it may have helped if I would have had a t-shirt or even a name tag to indicate I was ‘working’ in the interest of the center. Instead I would appear as some random chick aimlessly and continuously wandering around the fitness room, since ‘hanging’ by the desk was a crime punishable with a tongue lashing.
I had to learn that some (if not most) people do not care to be corrected; that I, for whatever reason, was not to be taken seriously (probably because I didn’t have a name tag), and most of all, 5 seconds of eye contact and a cordial hello may prove too much for some. I was told the floor is customer service based. So what am I to do when there are just a few people, and many of them don’t want to be bothered? Wander. Clean. Repeat.
I won’t say there weren’t rewarding moments because there were. Aside from mastering the cash register, scoring an “A” in smoothie making 101, and sharing my mad skills in restocking inventory and machine cleaning, there were times when I felt like I had actually helped someone. Oh those small moments, they really do make it all worth it… When someone would actually care about knowing how to perform exercises correctly, or thank me for helping them or showing them new things to try. I’ve gotten to help members with physical challenges, which was new territory and this is what it was about – not just spewing knowledge, but being open to learning new skills myself.
I also had the opportunity to fill in for kickboxing, Strength & Endurance Training (SET) and Abs classes. I faced some fears of being in front of a class, learned things about myself like counting and talking is not my strength, and I talk more when I am nervous. You see how being nervous as a Group Exercise Instructor, could prove difficult right? Yes, I ended up having to designate a back-up counter in one class – I’d look at her and she’d give me the count (which was beyond helpful). I now know counting, talking and offering modifications all at the same time without fail is definitely a skill developed over time, and it comes with experience.
My last day was perhaps the best, not because it was my last but because for just a few hours, I was a part of something bigger than me, bigger than the center, and felt appreciated and purposeful. The Wheelchair games, something I had not been a part of before, was being held. I was honored to help set up, and keep track of their goals and successes in bench and press. It was great to meet so many inspiring athletes, all of them impressive in strength and character. One boy thanked me for being honest when I told him that I wasn’t quite sure how to do the measurements so I was going to find someone who did. This is a big deal and I was NOT going to be “the girl who messed it up”.
Sometimes knowing what you don’t know, and being able to admit you don’t know, is the most knowledgeable thing you can do. For one night, I had a purpose, and opportunity to learn, and man it felt awesome.
So now that it is completed, I can say, “Oh it wasn’t that bad”… Did I want to be there every night after working all day? No. Did I want to make the best of this because it was part of something bigger and so important for me to finish? Yes. Am I ecstatic that it is over? Abso~friggen~lutely.
I was told that perhaps working with computers was better for me than with people – I think that was an unfair statement. After being harassed by one jackaloon, I lost my cool and explained to him how I felt. I admitted, it wasn’t professional of me, but I certainly didn’t deserve the way I was being treated. I am aware of the grade school lesson; two wrongs do not make a right, but when backed into a corner – the claws will come out (or in this case 3 fingers, and a few sentences – don’t worry my grammatical friends, they were complete sentences).
Of course the biggest question I got this week as people heard my time was coming to an end was, “What are you going to do now?” – My reply “Get my life back” – it is the truth. They seem startled, as if I have committed some crime. Honestly, I have an awesome career (which I am enjoying), why do I need to do anything else? Sure, I just dropped a ton of money on a Bachelors Degree, which I technically started in Spring of 2007 when I went back for an Associates of Science with a Health Emphasis. Sure, I am going to be paying loans for a long time. So what did I do this for? Myself. Selfish? Not one bit. I always wanted to complete a Bachelors, it was a personal goal. I always said if I did return to college, I would study something I was passionate about. After my mom had her triple bypass in 2006, I set my sights on returning to school (at the time for Health Promotion) and when dad passed in 2008 with congestive heart failure, it was confirmed that I was on the right path, Exercise & Sport Science [minor in Health Promotion]. Education is always a good investment (I think anyway).
Ultimately, I want to help people be healthier, more fit, and be there for their loved ones longer… for now, it might have to be on a very part-time basis but that is okay, right now, I need to be there for my family…and I am beyond happy to be back!
Powered by Facebook Comments