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Joshua Lim

he/him
SFU Student Undergraduate
Science › Biomedical Physiology + Kinesiology › Active Rehabilitation & Exercise Therapy
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

As with any new job, I faced some hardships when adjusting to the environment at Innovative Fitness. While the benefits of the job certainly outweighed them, I'll focus on the hardships as they were what I have learned the most from.
Experience Details
Semester
Fall
Year
2022
Skills
Introduction + Preparation
Beginnings: Uncertainty

At the start of my co-op job search, I felt lost. I had done all the required preparation over the semester, attended the Q&A’s, and spoke to peers who were both in their practicums as well as completed them. Despite many hours gathering all this advice and hearing about the experiences of many others, I felt as though something was missing. I still felt an uncertainty in me, one which none of my peers seemed to exhibit. Looking back, I’ve come to realize that uncertainty stemmed from not knowing what I was looking for in a practicum; what I was hoping to gain as well as what I had to offer. I knew I wanted to work somewhere related to my field of study (Kinesiology). However, that desire only managed to narrow down which tab of job listings I was looking through. Not knowing where I’d fit in or where to even look, I decided to follow my interests. I applied to many listings and was called back for a couple of interviews, but still hadn’t found anything that truly excited me. 

One afternoon as I sat in the SUB at SFU, studying in between my classes, an email popped up from the co-op team regarding a listing from Innovative Fitness. They were looking for Professional Training Coaches, and as I read the listing I became more and more enticed. It wasn’t like other listings which wanted assistants or administrators, it was like Innovative Fitness was looking for an individual. I felt super underqualified and scared to apply but in a good way. In the spur of the moment (and while facing an impending application deadline), I submitted a cover letter and my documentation. I was more than surprised to get a response a few days later asking for an interview.

Preparation: None

Going into my interview at Innovative Fitness I felt like a black sheep. After all, I was only 19 years old with minimal experience in a coaching capacity, and just a few semesters of Kinesiology courses under my belt. Furthermore, I had no experience working with clients in a 1-on-1 setting, or at all for that matter. I was even lacking in having experience in a team setting; mainly doing individual sports like climbing and fighting instead of team sports. It had been more than 5 years since I had been part of a team; when I was in JV football. All I knew was that I had been training in the gym for about 6 years up until then, and I had a passion for exercise.

Despite these feelings of uncertainty about how I’d fit in at Innovative Fitness, I decided I’d follow some advice I had gotten from my mom. She told me that I had gotten a call-back for a reason, and quite frankly I had nothing to lose, so just put my best foot forward and dive in. So I decided to make the best of what I had, and did some research on the company before walking into my interview essentially blind.

Interviewing: Nerve-Wracking

One thing that struck me most about the first time walking into the gym at Innovative Fitness, and I think this is something I will always remember. I was very nervous and filled with anxiety about what was to come, and after speaking to reception and sitting down to wait, two of the coaches walked up to me to greet me. They knew my name already and greeted me with a smile, asking how I was doing and wishing me luck with my interview. It was something that on paper is super small, but at the moment made me feel welcome in an (at the time) scary environment. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to chat with a different coach while waiting, and I randomly decided to ask if he had any advice on my interview. He chuckled and told me to just be myself. To you, that might seem obvious, but looking back it was really valuable advice. I think that if I had gone into that interview being “fake”, or being who I thought Innovative Fitness wanted me to be, I’d be in a very different place than I am now. If I had to give any advice to any nervous students like myself going into their co-op interviews, I’d give the very same words of wisdom that I received, and just be yourself.

Without revealing too much about how Innovative Fitness conducts its interviews, I completed both the verbal and technical aspects with as much confidence as I could muster. I felt as though I had made a connection with my interviewer (also my to-be supervisor), but I understood that there were many more candidates applying for the same job too. Several days went by, and I assumed that I was passed over. On my way home one day, I looked down at my phone and was ecstatic to receive an email from my interviewer, offering me the position. 

During my Experience
Learning and Adaptation

“Being a team player” is a bit of a blanket term I use for a mixture of qualities and that’s because there are a lot of aspects to being a good teammate. Quite honestly one could write thousands of words on this topic but in my experiences of transitioning from being a bit of a “lone wolf” to a team player, the most important thing is to be willing. You have to want to open up to being a part of something bigger than yourself and be willing to not only let others rely on you but also to rely on them. However, making that transition is one of the best decisions I feel I’ve made so far during my experiences as a co-op student. There are times when being a team player requires sacrifice, like picking up a few extra shifts for a sick teammate while you have a busier schedule, but it's never something that’s explicitly required. However, I will say that being part of a team is one of those things where you truly get out of it what you put in. You won’t make real connections with teammates if you just put in the bare minimum. And you can’t expect them to sacrifice time or effort for you when you’re not willing to do the same. 

Accomplishments and Challenges

As with any new job, I faced some hardships when adjusting to the environment at Innovative Fitness. While the benefits of the job certainly outweighed them, I'll focus on the hardships as they were what I have learned the most from. The biggest hurdles I had to overcome at Innovative Fitness were organization, communication, and becoming a team player.

Being a not-so-organized individual myself, it took me a little longer to get a hang of the organization at Innovative Fitness. Keeping on top of the administrative duties like recording information from sessions into logs and keeping the files of clients up to date was not too difficult. It was how I organized my time that was challenging. While I was familiar with constructing an effective day-to-day schedule from school, things changed when the organization of my time had a direct effect on my clients and teammates too. Things like ensuring I had ample time to prepare for sessions the day before, making sure I organized my exercise plan duration to fit the training hour, and even organizing my sleep schedule so I could be in prime shape the next day were all foreign to me. I won't lie, initially, there was quite a few nights of 5 hours of sleep due to my poor time management, but with every day I improved. Better yet, these improvements crept into how I organized my school and personal time as well, and I eventually found I was able to get more done in a single day than I thought I could before.

Communication was yet another aspect of the job which was rocky for me. I was the type of person to respond to emails/messages hours or days after receiving them (whether it be due to business or laziness). However, it was clear my bad habit would not fly in a work environment where teammates are constantly communicating with each other about training plans, schedule updates, and important information about clients. It took time to tear down the poor communication habits I had built from my time being apart from a team and to build newer better habits, but it’s something that has had positive effects on many other aspects of my life too. Furthermore, learning to respond more timely and intently has helped me build valuable relationships with not only my teammates but with my clients as well

Wrap Up

The benefits of working at Innovative Fitness really do outweigh the hardships I initially had to work through. There are the more obvious and well-known benefits of every day being different from the last, free gym usage, and lots of freedom building your own schedule (which really helped me be able to take 3 courses at the same time as work). On top of this, I benefitted by gaining technical skills and knowledge on the job pertinent to my major. I was able to complete some continued education by being certified to perform Fundamental Movement Screens, which assess physical competencies and screens for any limitations we should know about before training new clients. I also learned a lot about exercise selection and programming in relation to physical injuries, as we often worked in a rehabilitative capacity with clients suffering from both chronic and acute injuries. Through this I was also able to greatly expand my arsenal of exercises and exercise variations, to fit any fitness level or work around any physical limitations. However, the benefit I found most valuable was how the team at Innovative Fitness did things with each other and with clients outside of the gym too, whether it be hiking, swimming, marathons, or raising money for charities/foundations. The team also goes on fitness-focused trips with clients, called “destinations”. This can be anything from going to Hawaii together and running a marathon or heading to Peru to hike Machu Picchu (both of which are actual examples). The sense of community that extends outside of just the gym is something that’s rare and amazing. On top of this, surrounding myself with strong and driven people has pushed me to be more conscious of my own health, and to constantly want to improve my own fitness. I used to hate running, but a few months into working at Innovative Fitness I was motivated to run and complete my first half-marathon, something I never thought I’d be able to do. Overall, the biggest and most invaluable benefit I’ve found from working in this job is the stimulus and support to want to improve myself in all aspects of my life

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

I’m heading into my third work term at Innovative Fitness, and I have no desire to stop. If you make the decision to join the team, I’ll warn you now that problems will arise (just as with any transition), however, the people which surround here will not make you feel alone. More than that, they’ll make you feel capable of doing more than you ever thought possible of yourself, and quite frankly I’m not sure how many other jobs would be able to say the same. Reflecting back on the past, I’m glad I decided to apply that one afternoon sitting in the SUB, and that I’ve been able to build bonds with teammates and clients that I’m sure will span far into the future.

Author

Joshua Lim

he/him
SFU Student Undergraduate
Science › Biomedical Physiology + Kinesiology › Active Rehabilitation & Exercise Therapy
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

Undergrad Kinesiology Student - Active Health and Rehab Concentration, 3rd year.

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Dec 13, 2022