Last week I started an HND Course in Fitness, Health and Exercise at Telford College. Yes I'm a student again, fifteen years after my last experience of full-time education (or at least, I will be once the college are happy that I'm not a danger to vulnerable groups and let me pay my fees!)
Until a fortnight ago I was expecting to study at Jewel & Esk College - both are in the north of Edinburgh and both teach an HND Fitness course. I'd originally applied to Telford who told me they had no spaces, and after interview I was offered the J&E place. But a week before the start of term, Telford rang me up to say they had space and would I like to come to interview? Telford is significantly easier to get to (25 minutes by public transport as opposed to 55 to get to J&E, which is crazy because Telford is 4 miles away and J&E is 3 miles away!) and the campus had a nice feel to it, so I chose Telford.
Although the colleges are merging, along with Stevenson College, in November, so either way I will be a student at the new Edinburgh College, just at a different campus!
Now, I was prepared to be oldest on the course. I wasn't really prepared to be in another minority though - women! It's been a loooong time since I've moved in male-dominated circles; trust me, bellydance clases, toddler groups, and the school playground at 9am are all largely populated by women! And of course, these aren't any men - they're young lads with great skin, good hair and upper bodies shaped like inverted triangles. This is NOT an enviroment I'm used to!
While the teaching staff in the Sports Programming deparment seems to be about 50% women, there are just six females on the course of 20 students. I can't deny I'm much more comfortable talking to the girls. Working with the boys is beyond my comfort zone, but I'd better get used to it!
After two days of interminable sitting around, icebreakers and teambuilding challenges (press-ups, joke-telling, chain relays, treasure hunts...) we finally got some proper classes at the end of the first week. Nutrition, and Anatomy and Physiology. A lot of my classmates have completed access courses to get onto the HND course and have covered a lot of the material before. For me it's mostly new and is going to involve a lot of memory work. Although yesterday I got 15/16 on a mini test so I guess I'm doing okay (safe to say I won't be forgetting the clavicle again!)
Our course leader missed our first week due to a broken cheekbone (sporting injuries must be par for the course in this department I suppose) so we missed our first two practical gym-based sessions. I've already blogged about our first session in the gym which was brilliant!
There's also a First Aid course - again, I seem to be one of the few who hasn't done a first aid course before, I've always meant to but never managed it, so I'm really pleased to be studying that.
There is Personal Development Planning, and our first assignment for that is to submit a graph plotting significant events in our life and career from the last decade against quality of the experience, good to bad. Yes, a decade - significantly easier for me that for the 16-year-old in the class who, I think, is rating her experience in primary 3 of doing a project on The Victorians as 'quite good'...It's a class which is supposed to help us focus on careers, outcomes and where the course is taking us. Hopefully it'll be useful.
We also study Health Screening and Principles of Fitness, which are very useful - already we're designing questionnaires for potential clients, and learning to use calipers for body fat measurement.
Now that the work has properly begun I'm much happier. I can't wait to get it all under my belt and start working (steady, Elspeth - two years and plenty of assessments before that happens!)
On my first day, I bumped into another mum from our school who had also enrolled on a course. When she asked how mine was, I mentioned that I was the oldest and how I felt a bit uncomfortable. When I saw her again at school on Thursday, she told me she'd quit her course. "It was like you said", she explained, "it was full of kids having a laugh, and I thought, I don't belong here, so I just left."
I'm not doing that. I am guessing that she didn't want her qualification as much as I want mine, because I am prepared to withstand plenty of kids having a laugh if it means I get to be a personal trainer. Frankly, if there's any question of anybody being in the wrong place, it won't be me - it would be the kids having a laugh! I'm here to stay and I'm not going to quit. Just like that four-minute plank, baby!