As the spring interns we’re finishing up their last week here at IFAST, a client said something that really stuck with me. “You know, in the beginning I feel like we were teaching you guys, and now you guys are coaching me up!” After hearing the client say this, it really got me thinking about my experience as an intern and got me thinking about what the current interns were experiencing. It was an interesting cycle to experience and now witness. This was the first group of interns that I have gotten to see go through a full semester.
In the beginning of the internship, there are generally some awkward interactions with clients and scrambling around to make sure you are setting the client up for the right exercise, with the right weight. In the beginning, you are trying to remember everyone’s name, learn all the exercise variations we use here, make sure you don’t upset Ty, and make sure you have a notebook on you at all times. You are getting into the swing of your cleaning rituals. You are getting to know your fellow interns and getting a feel for how everyone works together. You are learning how to coach with Jae over your shoulder, giving you feedback. Jae may even give you some rules while you are coaching an exercise to make you better. Something like, you have to stand 20 feet away from your client while you coach them. You might get the “2 words rule”, where you only get 2 words to try and put the client in a better position.
By the middle of the internship, you are comfortable with everyone and hopefully becoming very comfortable with what is written on the programs. You maybe even have started getting comfortable with coaching. We begin giving the interns more responsibility around this time. Now they are getting to organize warm-ups or go solo with a client for most of the session. This is when clients begin to trust you more and maybe look over your shoulder to the head coach a little less. I remember feeling more confident with whom I was working with and watching the spring interns begin cueing more confidently. You have set in a few in-services or lectures at this point and feel more confident with what is going on.
By the end of the internship, you might get to run a group class or even run the entire floor for the hour. You might even get to write a program. You begin discussing what your plans are afterwards. You begin to get the feeling that you won’t get to see these people every day. You start to have more heart to hearts with clients that you’ve really connected with. We are fortunate that we attract tremendous people to our gym and that the most difficult thing about it ending. We have wonderful, caring people that train and work here and it isn’t easy to leave. The semester is a grind, but the people you get to meet and work with are well worth it.
We give our interns a fair amount of responsibility in the gym. They keep the gym stocked with all of our essential supplies. They keep the bathrooms clean and the weights organized. They get med balls thrown at them by clients, when Jae programs it. If they are around for Hit-Fit they get punched by the class. We may joke with them the entire time they here, but definitely miss them when they are gone. They can have huge a impact on clients. I have had clients say that when they think of an exercise they remember the intern’s voice that showed them how to do it for the first time. The interns are definitely appreciated, more than they may ever know.