Co-written with Marsha Moodley

Gym attendants in both Wits gyms have expressed interest in meeting a need by being trained as fitness coaches, while Wits Sports Administrations is set to bring in external trainers  – but only in a year’s time.

Four gym attendants told Vuvuzela they wished to attend fitness training courses so they could better assist gym members. “I have been working at the gym for four years and want to learn more about how to train and help members,” said one of the workers, who asked not to be named.

Currently the workers rely on operating sketches placed on the equipment to assist members with their workouts, but have no knowledge of weight training.

Junior Mnisi, 2nd year BA Law, said users needed someone to assist them because “the gym has been revamped but one of the 45s [45kg dumbbells] is broken just because someone dropped it”.  A former Carlton gym employee, Mnisi said intricate details like how to hold a weight, and at which angle, would help users get the best results.

According to a fitness coach at Virgin Active Keywest, unattended practice may result in gym users injuring themselves or damaging the equipment.

Commenting on the workers’ request and users’ desire for training support, director of Wits Sports Size Vardhan said: “Training gym members is not part of their job description.”  The workers were only there to supervise gym members by ensuring they did not damage the equipment and that they used sweat towels.

There were plans in place to bring in two external fitness coaches and a biokineticist, he said. However these services would only be “available in a year as the budget has not yet been approved”.

“Students will have to book and pay for services rendered by the biokineticist,” he said.

The workers said the only training they had received was a basic first aid course two years ago. However, Vardhan said Sports Administration planned to send them on a first aid refresher course in September.

Itumeleng Zondo, 2nd year LLB student who works out with a friend said it was difficult to train without someone to help you. “It would be cool if we get some assistance and the current workers get employed for that or have some of the school’s students to help out.”

A number of gym members told Vuvuzela that Wits Sports had spent a great deal of money on renovating the gym. Having ill-informed users damage the equipment would be a waste of money.

Published in Vuvuzela 17th edition, 27 July 2012