We all know the stereotypes that go with sports students, starting with their hulkish, athletic appearance. But can you work in the fitness industry if you don’t have that stereotypical fitness look?
Personally, I would never have seen myself as a viable candidate to study at a sports institution, even though I’ve always been moderately active and still go to the gym on a regular basis. My legs don’t ripple when I walk, I never win arm-wrestling competitions, and I look like a flailing old lady when I run.
Many of us don’t see ourselves as the sporty type, particularly when we don’t exercise often… or even if we do, for that matter. I know of so many people who absolutely love rugby but don’t, and never will, play rugby themselves.
Our South African culture is very sports orientated and everyone seems to get involved in some way – even if it’s from the edge of the couch, yelling at the players as if they (and that misinformed coach) can actually hear us. Yip, we’ve all witnessed these occasions.
The video below explains why people love sports so much, even if it’s only from the couch. We can get the same rush just from watching it on the TV as the people actually partaking in it get. How crazy is that? You also don’t need to play the sport to have an in-depth knowledge on it. You could in theory know more than the professional sports people themselves.
In fact, sports and fitness is a very popular field of study these days and many people choose to pursue a formal qualification related to fitness, sport, and wellbeing.
Do I Need to Look the Part?
To find out a little more about the type of person who pursues a qualification in the fitness and sports industry, I got together with two facilitators from eta College.
I sat down with David Pope, the Learning Programme manager for the Management faculty, and Aubrey Stout, manager of the Online Learning programmes to talk about what goes down in a professional fitness course, and to get their teacher’s perspective.
Upon my arrival at eta’s Cape Town campus, I noticed many students who didn’t look like stereotypical sports people, instead I saw people looking much like you and me who are working on building a healthy lifestyle, walking around the campus and entering the gym. This did take me slightly by surprise, since I was expecting a bunch of Hulks.
David informed me that eta gets many different types of people from all walks of life. This means that they have quite a diverse student body – pun intended. Nobody and no body is the same.
I guess I could go deeper into the biology of how we all have different body types and develop muscle differently. Instead, I’ve included a video that explains it in a cool way:
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You also don’t have to be fit to study at a sports institution like eta. If you have an interest and passion for sports, then you can still study and do well. This doesn’t mean that you get the fly-by when it comes to being active. At eta students do 3 fitness tests a year. Instructors encourage students to make use of the on-campus gym and to be as active as possible. When you’re in the sports and fitness industry there is a specific look or brand that people expect, and eta College encourages people to be healthy and active. No that does not mean looking like Hulk. Being fit and healthy doesn’t look a specific way, people with various body shapes and sizes can all be fit and healthy. And this is something that eta understands.
Personally, if my CrossFit trainer reminded me more of a gummy bear than the Hulk, I would judge them a little. And that’s the unfortunate truth. I wish it weren’t so, since I feel terrible for doing it, but as a fitness persona your body is a huge part of your brand. We naturally trust a well-built personal trainer’s advice more easily than a not-so-well-built personal trainer. Perhaps I should take on eta’s attitude and stop judging those around me so quickly.
So – to conclude this point: you don’t need to look the part, but it is encouraged for you to become more fit and active. And eta is more than willing to help you. They have the gym available for your use and they will give you a training program to help you achieve your goals. You don’t have to take them up on this offer and you won’t fail if you don’t gym regularly. And it doesn’t mean that you will fail in the industry. All they do is encourage you to become more active, for your own wellbeing.
A Bit More on eta
Well, as you may have guessed, eta is a sports institution. They have satellite campuses all over South Africa and also have online courses which are offered as well.
You can choose to study towards
- diplomas in management, fitness and coaching.
- short courses
- specialisations (this is great if you need CPD points for fitness – find out more about it here)
Get a Fitness Qualification Online
Wait… did I just mention online courses somewhere in the previous section? Yes. Yes, I did. I was also bewildered at the thought of teaching and learning a very practical subject online. It made absolutely no sense to me – until I spoke to Aubrey who happily informed me that the online learning platform that eta offers is very interactive. The institution prides itself on its practical method of learning, even through its online learning platform.
- correspondence learning
Correspondence learning is more written work. Think ‘studying from home.’ They send you the material, you study it, and submit your assignments and then write the exam. That’s it. eta does not do this type of learning. They prefer a more interactive method.
- online learning at eta
With online learning, students need to send in videos of their practical work for assessment. Not only that, they can watch lectures via video and have access to videos that demonstrate specific moves. This way, you aren’t physically present in a class room, but you still see how to do the move correctly. eta creates a classroom feel online with various integrated teaching techniques, including quizzes, videos and Skype sessions with a lecturer.
Keep an eye out for their online courses if you’re interested – they hope to have a whole new level of interactive learning by their June/July intake. This will make any online course more fun, more convenient, and better as a whole.
Well, That’s All Good and Well, but What if I Feel like Spongebob and Need Help?
That’s okay. Whether you need academic help or assistance with practical and physical tasks, eta lecturers are there for you. David and Aubrey encourage their students to ask for help when needed. Whether it’s via email or staying after class to have a quick chat, they’re there to help you. They WANT to help you achieve the best that you can, and to achieve the goals you set out for yourself.
“You get to see the personal characters in the class. From the very beginning you can suss out who’s who and what they’ll bring and be able to meet the individual more where they’re at. There’s only so much you can do via email. You get to interact with them between breaks, which is nice. You get to experience who they are and what they bring as individuals.” – David Pope
You won’t just be a number at eta. They have smaller classes to make this possible. In a lecture hall of 500 students it would be way too intimidating to put up your hand and ask a question. But in a class of only 30 students where everyone gets to know one another, become friends, and develop their own culture, it’s easier and less scary to put up your hand to clarify something or ask a question.
eta Student Benefits
With regards to enhancing their own fitness, eta students also have really cool benefits:
- they can use the gym whenever they like
- Garth, the gym manager, is more than willing to give any eta student a training schedule to help them improve their fitness.
- students can get personal training at a reduced cost.
Want to apply?
- Applications open at the end of April for the full-time diplomas.
- The deadlines for the short courses differ.
- The first semester intake for online learning deadline is on the first of February and the second semester intake deadline is on the 4th of July.
Since they only accept a small number of students per stream each year, the applications can become quite competitive. As is the case for almost every university or tertiary institution in South Africa, it’s better to apply as early as possible to increase your chances of acceptance.
To APPLY, click here.
Ready… Set… GO!
If you’re really interested in pursuing a career in sports but you’re slightly worried about the job availability in this industry, then drop a weight on that worry. David said that the sports and fitness industry is ever-evolving and new pockets of careers are opening up all the time:
- events management
- team management
…to name a few ways you could get involved in the sports industry with a qualification from eta.
It sounds to me like a perfect way to combine your business savviness with your passion for sports and fitness. What a win.
Here’s Davids advice to someone looking to study at eta:
“I’d encourage future students to start thinking about what they want to do. They need to find out what your passion is, then go for it. There will be stepping stones and failures and stuff that will be a blow to you but just keep at it. There will be rewards at the end.
For people who want to get out there, this is the perfect industry to get into. It leaves room for yourself, to show yourself in the industry and be yourself. It brings something that’s unique to you to the industry.”
And an added bonus of eta – they allow enough time for you to take on a part-time job as a coach or even instructing a few classes at the gym, all while filling up your log book. I would say hell yeah to that!
People are all about being healthier and active nowadays. The sports industry is booming and will only make its presence more prominent as time goes by. You may not think that you suit the fitness industry because you don’t look the part, or you think that your knowledge isn’t adequate enough. It’s okay. The most important thing is to have a passion and drive for the industry. So go on out there and follow your dreams.
Until the next time, here’s some fitness tips from our beloved Suzelle DIY: