All about being a gym instructor

By Ong Jun Hao, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

As a part-time trainer at the SMU gym, I love the convenience of my job. My workplace, my classes and project meetings are all on campus!

I became a gym staff during my first semester in SMU, and progressed to the role of fitness instructor in my second semester. Unlike some of my peers, my part-time job isn’t just for the extra income. I took up this opportunity because I’ve always been passionate about health and fitness since my junior college years, and I enjoy educating others about how to get the best results out of their workouts.

Although I’m a student like many of the other gym users, rest assured I’m equipped to ensure your safety while you’re working out. Before I could start work as a gym staff, I went through a number of courses such as the Basic Sports Science Course, First Aid and CPR/AED courses.

From the Sports Science Course, I learnt more about the autonomy of the body and how to perform exercises with proper form. Afterwards, I went on to pursue a Personal Trainer Certification, which taught me how to prescribe exercise regimes for people of all ages and fitness levels to help them stay in shape. In addition, I also have a certification in weight loss management and this helps me in my work with clients whose goal is to lose weight efficiently.

One of the interesting benefits of this job is that it has helped me to expand my network and increase my interactions with my peers. I’ve made many friends solely because they work out at the gym, even though I’ve never been in the same classes as them before.

I’ve also had random encounters with my professors, which felt really awkward initially. In the gym, I am their instructor and they are my students, and when we meet again in class it’s the other way around. Some of the clients that I work with are my professors, who often ask me to address them by their first name instead of calling them “prof”. It certainly took me quite awhile before I could get used to doing so!

An unexpected benefit of my job is that I’ve learnt effective time management during my two years at SMU. Whenever I tell my group mates that I have to rush off to work, they will be amazed that I’m able to cope with the workload of full-time school with a part-time job. It actually scares them when they find out that I’m also concurrently taking a part-time diploma in Sports Therapy.

So far, I think I’ve managed to juggle my various commitments without compromising on any of them. For the past few semesters, the groupmates I worked with on projects were very understanding of my work schedule, and it is definitely thanks to their support that I made it onto the Dean’s List in my first year in SMU. I hope to repeat this achievement in my second year and beyond.

Time is the one resource that we cannot buy and we often tend to use it inefficiently. I strongly believe that we should always make the best out of the time and opportunities that we have, though personally, it does get tiring at times. As my dream is to work in the fitness industry and in time own a fitness company, I feel the need to accomplish as much as I can with the time that I have right now in order to fulfill my passion.

I would definitely encourage my fellow students to find something that they are passionate about during their time in SMU, and chase it to their fullest potential. It is my hope that we will all be able to experience the truth of this idiom: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Jun Hao’s 30-minute Smugger Workout

Since I’ve written both about exercising and about time management in this post, here is a simple workout that I’d like to share with those who feel like they’re too busy to exercise. You can do this workout anywhere since no equipment is required, just a small amount of space similar to the dimensions of a yoga mat. Plus, studies have shown that exercising increases your productivity.

1. Start with a warm-up by jogging on the spot for two minutes.

2. Complete the following exercises in sequence, and take a 30-second rest between each exercise.

  • Jumping Jacks: 20 repetitions
  • Buddha Claps: 20 repetitions
  • Squats: 20 repetitions
  • Planks: 30 seconds
  • Lunges: 20 repetitions (10 with your left leg, 10 with your right leg)
  • Sit-ups: 20 repetitions

Repeat the above for three sets in total.

If you are unsure of how to do any of the exercises in this workout, you can either look them up on Google, or head down to the SMU gym and approach me or any other gym staff for guidance.