Paul Swainson is the Research and Development Lead and Personal Training Specialist at Future Fit Training. He was a judge in the Get on Track category of the Future Fit Training Legacy Awards, sponsored by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.
Future Fit works in partnership with the Trust, offering free training to employees and athlete mentors. Paul explains:
“Dame Kelly Holmes is a Future Fit student at the moment, studying to become a Personal Trainer, so it was a natural extension to get involved with her trust. I tutored Kelly on the course and became involved in the partnership. It’s all about helping her Trust to give back to the local communities.”
“That and my role as a PT
Specialist, made me an obvious choice to judge this category. My technical
background meant I could look at applicants from a technical perspective and
understand how they would adapt to and benefit from the course as their prize.”
Due to the personal circumstances of the winner, Josh Harkness, who lives in Scotland, couldn’t attend the day in person, so his interview was carried out on a video link.
“It would have been nice to have met Josh face to face and have him join in the celebrations of the day, but the call was far better than we expected. We must admit we had reservations without fully understanding why Josh couldn’t make it in person and thought it could be an awkward 10-minute interview, but we literally had to eat our words! He was gutted he couldn’t be there and was an enthusiastic and passionate person, who was genuinely grateful for the opportunity. By definition, all the Get on Track applicants were from difficult backgrounds, so this was a huge opportunity for them.”
“Josh has completed the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust’s
Get on Track programme and had personally benefited so much that he now wanted
to give back to others too; hopefully as a mentor on that same programme, as
well as making a successful career out of health and fitness.”
“He told us “I want to be someone and help someone”. I don’t think he intended to come out with such a powerful quote, but he spoke from the heart. He wants to use all the training and his skillset as a vehicle to benefit other people. It was genuinely very inspiring.”
But Paul was humbled to meet the finalists from all the categories during the day.
“Until three years ago I used to teach regularly for Future Fit, in fact the last workshop I ran was the one Dame Kelly was on, but since then I don’t have much opportunity to speak to the students. So it was nice to get back to that and find out who’s getting into our industry, what they’re excited about and to do a who’s who of the industry, introducing them to people. It was a really good experience. There was a great atmosphere; you could sense how valuable the process was to everyone.”
“They were really inspiring and all had fantastic stories about what they’d been through and what they want to achieve – with very specific missions in mind. One finalist wanted to use physical activity to improve mental health in his local community. For an 18 year old to have that foresight is amazing! As a company we pride ourselves on providing training for the next generation of fitness professionals, and I genuinely do think the 25 finalists were all people that will make a huge impact on the industry and be some of our future leaders.”
Talking about what their involvement in our industry means for the sector, Paul says: “With the ambition they have, if they can implement their ideas and initiatives they will have a big impact in enhancing the drive to use physical activity as a mechanism to improve the health of our nation and reduce the burden on the NHS. Their focus was less on general fitness and more about the health agenda; what your body can do, not what it looks like, and helping specific niche markets too, which is really interesting. It wasn’t about getting qualified to help everyone they can, it was about finding their niche.
“I hope in years to come they will all be running successful businesses, employing staff themselves and enjoying a strong following as experts in their field in both the industry and the public they are trying to connect with. I hope some will give back to the industry in terms of education and training too, perhaps even working with Future Fit.”
Paul hopes the Legacy Awards will become an annual occurrence. He says: “It was such a good event. Not only for students but for our staff too. It reminds us why we do what we do. Giving finalists that have already undergone training a CIMSPA membership as part of their prize is so important too. As the organization responsible for upholding standards of education and training in our sector, it’s the kitemark for the industry and shows they are committed to upholding this. CIMSPA is a big step forward for the industry and we need to get everyone registered with this one body so we can demonstrate quality and professionalism.”