The Internship I completed at the National Institute of Fitness and Sport (NIFS) in Indianapolis, Indiana was a very educational experience in which I worked in a state-of-the-art fitness facility. Predominately, I oversaw everyday activities in the fitness center and trained clients under staff supervision. A portion of my time was spent with strength and conditioning coaches affiliated with IUPUI’s women’s soccer and women’s basketball teams. Additionally, I collaborated with staff to organize Health and Fitness programs and philanthropy activities and occasionally travelled to corporate fitness sites and fitness-related activity fairs.
This picture shows me going through the “deep squat” portion of the Functional Movement Screening that NIFS administers to members
The aspect of the internship I completed at NIFS that I have come to appreciate the most is the wide-scope of fitness-related activities that I was able to experience. This variety has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the fields that I am passionate about. Years ago, if I were to be asked what I would like to pursue as a career, I would respond “I want to be a strength and conditioning coach for athletes.” I can definitively say that after this internship experience, I would like to pursue another area of the Health and Wellness Field.
With this being said, at this time I am uncertain as to where I will work after college, or if I will continue to further my education, but I do have a perfectly clear vision of what I would like to do in my professional career, and this is to enhance the lives of others by providing my knowledge and talents so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and achieve their fitness goals. Although it may seem that I have a considerable portion of uncertainty in my life right now, I still consider the realizations I have acquired from completing this internship a success, because the practical experience I gained from the 14 weeks at NIFS allowed me to realize my true passions.
Several events transpired throughout the duration of my internship that were particularly impactful in helping me narrow down my professional goals. Specifically, through this experience, I realized that some of my greatest passions lie in incorporating fitness into philanthropy events, helping others achieve their fitness goals, and continuing my education.
An event that I helped to organize and complete is called the NIFS, “Wag ‘N Walk.” This event was a 1.5 mile walk that encouraged participants to bring their dogs, as the organization benefitting from the event, “Paws & Think, Inc.” is an animal shelter that also funds therapy dogs. I have always enjoyed volunteering for philanthropies like this, however, helping to coordinate this event by managing its logistics and incorporating fitness into it was fascinating. Seeing my work to market the event, put “goody bags” together for participants, and working on registration come to fruition to benefit others was extremely rewarding. My work with this event inspired me to continue to incorporate fitness into philanthropy events, as I learned when you are passionate about an event like this, the result is extremely satisfying.
Similarly, I found the personal training of one particular individual to be very impactful. This individual was of similar age to me, and had little experience working out. By providing him with an extensive tour of the fitness center was able to help him acclimate to a completely foreign and sometimes intimidating environment. After I explained some of the fitness equipment to him and discussed further measures that could be taken so he could determine what routine would best fit his goals. Eventually, I completed some personal training sessions with this individual while under the supervision of a NIFS staff member. Overtime, this individual continued to come back to NIFS and pursue his fitness goals regularly, and to think that our time together might have positively impacted him to adopt healthy habits is extremely rewarding to me. The feeling I got from this experience ensures me that I am following through with my passions as I help others fulfill their potential through fitness.
The final interaction that I think will prove to be most impactful was with one of the staff members of NIFS. In the past, I had thought that furthering my education with a graduate school program was not for me. I was not convinced that extra schooling would prove to be beneficial to my career goals. I also have felt that there is a disconnect between high level academia and practitioners of fitness. One of the NIFS staff members I worked with was around 10 years older than me. He could have settled for a job that he was not truly passionate about, yet still have made good money. This individual has also excelled in both powerlifting and bodybuilding, two activities that I am passionate about. Seeing him take the extra steps to continue his education so he can pursue his passions while still practically enjoying his fitness-related hobbies. At this point, I think I will do the same to pursue further education.
The culmination of these experiences has led me to gain a more complete appreciation of the impact of my college education. It has been rewarding to see how things come full circle. To know that the subjects that I have spent hours of my time studying can benefit my professional career is rewarding, and to learn from others while in the practical setting of an internship is what growth means to me.
My fellow intern Addison and I posed for a picture on the last day of the internship. I was able to form a lasting relationship with Addison throughout the 14 weeks at NIFS that I know will last a long time.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
The things I have learned from STEP and in extension my internship at NIFS have been the most significant professional learning experiences I have had in my life. This learning has manifested in several ways. In terms of academics, after observing the requirements that running a fitness center demands, learning how to design successful fitness related programs, and understanding how to motivate people to participate in them has added a new significance to my coursework. Putting the theories that I have learned in the classroom into application in the work place has undoubtedly motivated me to do my best in school this year. After gaining practical experience at NIFS, I have been able to differentiate what some of my true passions are, and what I do not enjoy doing as much. This will prove to be invaluable as I decide where I will be happiest in the work force in the years to come.
One of the things that I appreciate most about my internship at NIFS was the diverse staff of Health-Fitness Specialists. Each member of the staff was different in their passions and specializations. I learned that it is okay to specialize in what I am passionate about while still keeping a healthy balance of other fitness disciplines in mind. I think this mindset will help me be not only successful, but also happy about the professional career I will embark upon, which ultimately is one of my highest priorities.
The final picture was an example of bench press form that was posted to NIFS’ social media. I frequently “tookover” the social media to draw engagement from younger crowds and generate new, fun content.