Given that internship is a academic equipment and regarded as a unit in the university, my application to do internship at Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was accepted and was based at the central branch. I worked in the fitness center and at the swimming pool during my internship period.
Background information about YMCA
The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is a global organization with about 125 national associations and 57 million beneficiaries. YMCA was founded by George Williams in 1844 in London with an aim of putting Christian principles into practice to develop healthy spirit, mind and body, and that formed the three pillars of their emblem.
The local YMCAs are affiliated voluntarily through their national organizations, which in turn are part of both Area alliance and also the World Alliance of YMCAs. The main motto of the World Alliance is “empowering young people” and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Kenya YMCA is a subsidiary national branch of the global YMCA. The Kenya YMCA has 23 branches nationwide. The main secretariat and the Central Branch of YMCA is located along State House Road Nairobi, next to United Kenya Club.
The organization is charitable and is committed to the improvement of the of the life quality both in urban and rural areas. It is non-profit, non-denominational, and voluntary organization. This means that it has members from every race, religion, men and women, the old, and also recognizes the human race brotherhood and experience richness of coming together to share resources, experiences and information for mutual benefit.
Mission of Kenya YMCA
To facilitate and develop the physical, mental and spiritual well being of youth to enable them become responsible citizens
To empower young people for Africa renaissance
The commitment of YMCA is to pursue social and economic justice for all with a greater emphasis on youth, women and the children. To achieve this, the organization provides training opportunities and support the development projects for the communities as a way of enhancement of the economic survival chances for the vulnerable and the marginalized groups in the society. The organization seek to avail the opportunity to many people to realize their full potentials, and live full life with a belief that it is the Christians missions core. YMCA has many different activities and programs for the youth and these activities include:
- Youth programs
These programs range from Hi-Y clubs which assists in educating the youths on values, to develop different skills in addition to offering platform for motivational speaking. They include;
- Provide wide variety of recreational activities for the youth
- Youth programs such as dance and drama
- Development of programs for job creation
- Mentorship and leadership programs
- Reproductive health programs
- Environmental conservation activities,
- Entrepreneurial activities
- Hi-Y clubs in schools
- Outdoor activities such as outings and hiking
- Sports and recreation
Some of the sporting programs and activities YMCA offers include both outdoor and indoor sports. The outdoor activities include; soccer, basketball, badminton, swimming, camping and hiking. Similarly, the indoor activities include gym, tennis, aerobics, darts, taekwondo and karate.
- Educational programs
They include environmental education, S2C and Hi-Y. YMCA also has a primary school in Shauri Moyo that has baby class, nursery, pre unit and the primary school.
- Community service
The community service activities include advocacy on climate justice, visiting children home, peace campaigns, advocacy on S2C, health programs and disaster risk reduction activities. They have affiliated volunteer youth groups such as CHANCE which has young talented elites from different professionals such as clinical officers, public relation, computer science, social and community development workers, peer educators and motivational speakers who aid orphans and the vulnerable children in the country.
YMCA offers many internship opportunities for youths from different educational programs for a period agreed. Because they had sports facilities and programs, I applied for internship at YMCA and began my three month internship program from 2nd may to 31st of July 2014. I was attached at the Central Branch of YMCA which has the gym and the swimming pool facilities for their sporting programs and activities.
As an intern, I was closely working with my supervisors both in the gymnasium and the swimming pools areas. Basically there were no scheduled programs when I was to attend specific sporting area, be it gym or the swimming pool, but it depended on the client’s numbers and time of the day. For instance, in the morning, midday lunch hour and in the evening, gym used to have many clients and therefore my services was needed there. Swimming pool on the other hand had clients in the afternoon hours and the days the weather was favorable for swimming. I also had different tasks both at the gymnasium and the swimming pools
The gymnasium tasks
Generally, in the gym section I was assigned the supervision duty of the fitness center. The following were my duties in the gymnasium section:
- To welcome and to explain different programs and activities of the fitness center. This also included instructing the clients on the effective ways of using wide variety of the fitness and the cardio equipments by providing basic information on fitness.
- To monitor the operations in the gymnasium and ensure everything is in order. Monitoring also involved checking of the clients to ensure that there is smooth flow of clients through the exercise circuits.
- To develop health and wellness programs for the clients especially the new ones
- Provide instructions to the clients especially the new ones on how to use the fitness equipments and the cardiovascular equipments. This also includes aiding of the clients in the daily operations of the gym equipments and to answer their questions concerning the equipments.
- To maintain the health record of the clients and the users of the fitness rooms
- To ensure that the rules and the regulations, standards of safety and the sanitation requirements of the gym are followed to the latter by the clients. This involved communication with the clients about the policies of YMCA to protect its properties and the liability for their damage and warning against going against the rules and regulations of the gyms since YMCA is not liable for any injuries sustained in their premises.
- To assist in the implementation of the emergency action plan of the fitness center. This included offering first aid to whenever there were emergency cases in the gym.
- To provide assistance to the clients who comes to enquire on our services, rates and other questions
- To document and report all incidences and accidents in the gym to the fitness manager. Furthermore, I was to document and report all malfunctions of the equipments and the safety hazards whenever they occur to the fitness manager
- To assist in record keeping at the fitness center. This includes recording the payment receipts of the clients, issuance of the membership cards, ensuring that the clients fill the attendance register before entering the gym for their workouts. Record keeping also involved sharing of information about the membership rates and different payment packages of YMCA with the new visitors. Furthermore, I managed the check-ins and the check-out procedures for the existing members.
- To assist in aerobic classes wherever there was need such as absenteeism of the day’s aerobics instructor or he is committed somewhere and could not attend to his classes.
- To perform other assignments and duties as assigned by the supervisor within the gym settings
The swimming pool tasks
- To assist in maintenance of the hygiene of the pool, that is I was engaged in cleaning of the swimming pool. Maintenance of the water included biological, physical and chemical factors for proper sanitation of the pool. Chemical maintenance of the water included testing and recording the water pH, calcium hardness, total alkalinity and the levels of salts. The physical maintenance of the water included circulation, filtration, temperature of the water and vacuuming of the swimming pool. For the biological maintenance, I was assisting in water shock treatments, disinfection and control of algae.
- During the annual maintenance shut down which was in mid June, I assisted in cleaning of the pool deck, bulk head and inside the pool. Similarly, filtration system was check during that annual shut down.
- To assist in the administration of first aid to casualties around the swimming pool area. This also involved performing resuscitation when appropriate.
- I also performed other tasks as assigned by the aquatic manager
- I assisted in checking whether the equipments and the machines are properly functioning
- I also assisted in record maintenance. This included ensuring that all the clients sign the attendance register before swimming, completing the duties checklist
- Ensure that the rules and regulations concerning the swimming pool are followed by the clients. This is to ensure safety of the clients. This I did by patrolling the pool and also ensuring that no client drown
- To assist the swimmers in water when they are in danger of drowning by giving them the long rod and pulling them out of water for their safety
- To offer customer care services to the new clients. That is to answer their enquiries concerning the swimming pool rates, checking the payment receipts and the membership cards before allowing them to use the swimming pool. Among the customer service duties, I also issued the swimming equipments as requested by the clients such as the swimming boards, floaters and the flippers.
What I gained and the lessons leant
During my three month internship period, I learnt and gained quite a number of things. Some of the important things that I gained and learnt include:
- I learnt how to handle different people regardless of the social or economic status in the society. This was not a theoretical unit but what a person learns in the field when interacting with different kinds of people.
- I also sharpened my organizational skills since during my internship period, I worked on scheduled time and on different activities. Therefore, high level of organization was paramount for the success o the assigned duties
- I was able to apply my knowledge of fitness testing, fitness programming in designing different programs to different clients. I learnt how to monitor fitness progress of the clients practically, giving recommendations advice on nutrition, lifestyle and exercises
- I also learnt how to operate and controls the settings of the training machines and equipments such as the automated treadmill, multipurpose training machine among others
- I learnt how to document and report any incidences and accidents that occur in a swimming pool or a fitness center. The information I learn was helpful in evaluation of risks of a machine or the health hazards in the fitness facility
- I also learnt how to take the measurements of the water such as the water pH, salt levels, water alkalinity and how to physically do cleaning of the swimming pool. These are some of the practical things that I was not taught in classes
- I learnt how to operate the swimming pool circulation machines and the filters. Knowledge of the operations of the equipments is useful as a lifeguard or a s professional in the swimming industry
- I also learnt the importance of record keeping. For the profits to be calculated, good record keeping is important during calculation. Furthermore, clients data are very crucial and must be kept properly and confidently.
What I introduced
During my internship period, I was able to introduce a number of things when attending to my clients:
- Use of designed fitness programs
I was able to design training program for 10 of my clients who I worked with regularly. This was unlike in the past where the clients came to the gym for their aerobics or cardiovascular training haphazardly and go away. I ensured that the designed programs were followed to the latter during their training sessions, professionalism and good organization prevailed among my clients
Before enrolling into the program, I conducted fitness testing to the clients by measuring their BMI, calculating their waist to hip ratio, and their weight. Before completion of my internship, I did another testing and the program was promising. I hop professionalism and the trend I started will continue even after my exit
- Application of the Nutrisurvey software in monitoring of the clients diets
Apart from the designed fitness programs, I designed good nutritional plan for the clients. I applied the Nutrisurvey software to monitor the amount of consumed calories by the clients. Given that the treadmills and the cross trainer were automated, the number of burnt calories was able to be calculated. This was helpful in measuring the input and output of calories and to monitor their progress.
I conclusion, my three month internship period was fun, enjoyable and learnt a lot. I was able to interact with many clients, applied my theoretical knowledge practically and saw the results. I was also able to introduce some programs such as clients training through well defined programs, and monitoring of the clients’ calories using Nutrisurvey software. In general, the internship was successful and I gained a lot.
McBride, T. (2009). [YMCA]. Canberra: Tye McBride.
Kenya YMCA. (2013). YMCA review: A quarterly magazine of Kenya YMCA. Nairobi, Kenya: Ofe-PR Services.