WorldSkills UK Fitness Trainer semi-final
With two regional heats under my belt as a judge, I was looking forward to the step up for this event and it didn’t disappoint.
The semi-final of this year’s Fitness Trainer Competition took place at Loughborough University on 5thJuly.
The 8-strong judge team met the day before at the very well-equipped Holywell Fitness Centre on campus, along with Competition Manager Christopher Pitts, Head Judge Karen Stanton and one of the founders of the competition, Lori Randall.
We spent the gloriously sunny afternoon having a tour of the venue - which lives up to Loughborough’s reputation for world class sporting facilities - and a judge briefing before sitting down to mark the competitor portfolios which had all been submitted in advance. This task took us well into the early evening, but it was important to ensure a standardised approach as per the regional heats.
Finally, at 6pm we headed to our hotel to check in and enjoy a very welcome dinner (mostly healthy options, although some judges opted to forgo their starter in favour of a generously–sized Eton mess. Admittedly I helped to finish one of them…).
It was once again a bright and early start the next morning, and fuelled by a big breakfast the team arrived back at the university shortly after 8am, with the competitors beginning to fill the competition base soon afterwards.
There were twelve Gym Instructor and nine Personal Trainer category competitors, plus their clients/participants, college tutors and supporters, so the room quickly became a hive of activity and the sense of occasion was heightened by the presence of a number of VIP guests representing event sponsors and WorldSkills.
With so many people milling about, the judge team actually had to congregate in a room at the back of the venue away from everyone else. We weren’t being rude – the integrity of the competition relies on being completely impartial so it would have been unfair to get into conversation with those taking part or anyone related to them. As strict as it seems, it’s one example of the high quality and credibility of the competition and how well-organised it is. Another testament to Christopher, Karen, Lori and the rest of the team.
At 10am on the dot the practical sessions began. There was a definite jump in effort and standard from the regional heats, with some great displays of motivation, coaching and client care – all essential skills for the modern fitness professional. I was judging the PT category once again and was impressed by the variety of styles on display. As at the regional heat, Lyndsey Williams from Preston’s College was training a deaf client and it was very interesting to watch her communicate and monitor the exercises she had prescribed.
Thomas Gallivan from Coleg Gwent was aiming to become, in his own words, the first autistic personal trainer to make the competition final. Not only did he achieve this by making it into the top six on the day, Thomas was given a special mention award for demonstrating particular talent/innovation which couldn’t be recognised in the regular competition marking. He really made the most of his skills by meticulously planning his client’s workout and coordinating it perfectly in terms of timings and the music involved. It was practically a choreographed PT session!
Thomas also astounded us by calculating his client’s Waist:Hip Ratio in his head and provided the quote of the competition so far for me: “The next exercise is a deadlift, which involves 18 muscles. I will list them for you”, before promptly reeling off all 18 without notes or a pause!
Thomas joined another five Personal Trainers on the shortlist for the final in November, with Miyazim Ibryamov deservedly earning the top score on the day.
Kaja Choma took top spot amongst the Gym Instructors, with a total of eight going through to the final. Everyone was acknowledged at the presentation at the end of the day, with certificates issued to the highest scorers, before the judges offered feedback to each competitor. Those that had made the final were understandably keen to know what they could do to improve even further, which was great to see.
With a task spread over three days at The Skills Show in Birmingham in front of up to 100,000 visitors and competitors from other industries, the finalists will face their toughest test yet at the end of the year. It’s fair to say that winning the competition after 4 challenging stages will be a tremendous achievement and a great accolade for two budding fit pros to begin their careers with.
Paul Swainson is Head of the Future Fit School of Personal Training, a role to which he brings over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. Having run his own personal training business and worked as a PT manager and tutor, his aim with the School of PT is to provide the next generation of fitness professionals with all the support and resources they need for a successful career.
Paul is an experienced presenter and educator, having lectured and taught all over the UK on courses and at fitness conventions, and contributes regularly to industry websites and national publications. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSwainson