Through my internship with Iron Athletics Canada, I have been exposed to the many different aspects of strength and conditioning. From team fitness testing to individual training sessions, I was able to take everything I learned from my education and put it to the test. When I decided to take on this internship I was eager to see what would come easily to me and what areas I might need to work on. Although we complete assignments in school and study textbooks, it all comes down to your ability to translate that knowledge into your work. This is one of the many reasons why my professors encouraged internships- to get the practical experience.

The WHY

After completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Kinesiology at Brock University, I made the decision to continue my education at Niagara College. Last fall I accepted my offer of entrance into the

Exercise Science for Health and Performance post-graduate certificate, not realizing how much opportunity I would be afforded in doing so. Throughout the school year I was able to build relationships and work alongside some amazing professors and classmates. In just one year we were able to touch on topics concerning exercise among the general population, athletes and chronic individuals; areas I had been exposed in past academia, but never in such depth. We learned about the physical and mental aspects that affect various populations and how we as professionals are able to play a role in their lives. My advice to any students currently in the Health and Fitness field is to not hold back from furthering your education. There is always something new to learn and new opportunities to take hold of; a mindset which led me to my internship.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

One of the most memorable opportunities that came up over the course of my internship was interacting with professional Strength and Conditioning coaches at Penn State University. Matrixx and I were invited to get a closer look at a day in the life of a Penn State Football player during their in-season Strength and Conditioning program. This gave us the chance to meet the coaches, observe the players during their workouts and observe first hand the planning and organization that takes place behind the scenes of an elite program.

In talking to a few of the coaches, they provided insight as to how they address an athlete’s individual needs while accounting for team goals and how the work in the gym translates to the field come game day. I learned that it is always important to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the theory behind a plan.

One of the most fascinating components was how the coaches organized a group of 60 plus players at one time, all while managing to stay dedicated to that session and goal. The players were organized into groups with specific stations and a copy of their workout while coaches specific to their position monitored their technique. With the music blaring and everyone working to get faster and stronger, it was truly an amazing atmosphere to train in.

Part of this trip reassured me that the decisions I would make if I were in that position are similar to that of an elite level team. It also made me think about the current or past training programs I have created and how I can use what I learned through this experience to create more successful programs. If ever given the opportunity to travel and observe how other coaches structure their training sessions, my advice is to pack your bags. I promise you will not regret it.

Continue Learning And Challenge Yourself

One of the areas that I wanted to focus on the most was programming. My reason for this was that I wanted to practice generating a program that would reflect a player’s performance or help achieve an individuals goals. Throughout this internship I was given the chance to not only program for one-on-one training sessions but also for specific sports teams. Understanding the differences

between age, specific sports, fitness and skill levels will dictate how you structure a program. I was and still am continuously learning and adjusting to combine all of these requirements on top of school, work and practice schedule. The dynamic of a program and specifically a training session will reflect on myself as a coach. I started by looking at the big picture; what are the goals of the team and how am I going to get the athletes or clients to achieve them?

I have to admit that this does take time and the right answer doesn’t always present itself. I found that if I took it step by step, talked to other trainers and communicated with my clients, I’d see what I needed to change or add to their program. One of the important aspects of being a trainer is understanding that you must justify why you are prescribing whatever is on your program. If you can back it up with logic and credibility, you’re on the right track. I found myself constantly reviewing other options and questioning if what I was doing would truly lead my athletes to the level of success they need. The truth is, we are constantly learning as coaches and by changing a program you are demonstrating that one method does not fit all. There are multiple ways to achieve success and your job to is to find the one that best fits for the current moment.

Try Something New

If you want to become better at what you do, you need to try something new. I myself have never been much of a writer so completing a bi-weekly blog was definitely outside of my comfort zone! Knowing that other people would read my thoughts or advice and perhaps critique it freaked me out! The fear did pass and I realized that even if I am still learning, these actions are only going to make me a better coach.

Being able to step out of your comfort zone takes courage and at times can be very challenging, but know that it only leads to becoming a well rounded individual. I am happy to think that my advice, my coaching and programming throughout this internship might have made an impact on someone’s life. I love helping people and acknowledging this is my way of using my education to contribute to society. My internship in its entirety has connected me with some amazing people, helped build my network in the industry and expanded my knowledge within the field. With this in mind, I would hope anyone looking to gain experience in the industry would consider taking a leap of faith on an internship.

Thank you to Iron Athletics Canada for this opportunity. If you want to stay up to date with all their awesome updates, follow them on Facebook and Twitter! Better yet, subscribe to their mailing list for weekly newsletters and fitness tips. Good luck to my fellow coaches. Never stop learning.