WorldSkills UK Fitness Trainer Competition: Regionals heat up at Tyne Met College

The regional heats of the WorldSkills UK Fitness Trainer Competition are drawing to a close, with scores tighter than ever in the penultimate event. Judge Paul Swainson gives us the lowdown of the regional heat at Tyne Met College.

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Following my Fitness Trainer Competition judging debut in Loughborough a couple of weeks ago, I set off up the M1 in the other direction for the fourth of the five regional heats at Tyne Met College in Newcastle on 18 May.

Once again it was an early start; the hotel didn’t even serve breakfast before we needed to leave in the morning, which meant myself, Competition Manager Christopher Pitts, Head Judge Karen Stanton and another member of the judge team Mark Thorpe, parked ourselves in a coffee shop at 6.30am for much needed food and coffees to fuel us for the day.

Arriving at Tyne Met College an hour later we were joined by two more judges – Karen Ramsey and Eileen Baron – and shown around the facilities before the first Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer portfolios were submitted for marking. With an all-important cup of tea we cast a critical eye over consultation forms, programme plans workout cards and standardised our scores.

The judging criteria is very clear with set grading descriptors and it is certainly challenging for competitors to score highly across all sections. Those achieving the best scores are certainly showing their ability to meet the increased requirements for personal trainers in the industry today. The judging process (and competition in general) is very well organised by Christopher and Karen – with their highlighter pens, timetables and stopwatches they certainly run a tight ship!

Eileen and I then observed four competitors in the PT category deliver very different 40 minute sessions in the sports hall, where they had to demonstrate their skills using limited equipment to train their clients. Each displayed strengths in particular areas such as communication, coaching, instruction, motivation and rapport building, and it’s great to see these softer skills being developed as they’re key to success as a trainer.

As in Loughborough, we found ourselves commenting that if you could combine the best attributes of each competitor you’d have a truly fantastic PT. There could be only one winner on the day however, and once the scores had been calculated there were only 1.5 marks in it for first place which, considering there’s a total of 250 available, is pretty tight!

In the end Andrew Pearson from Tyne Met College came out on top, with Megan Goodlad from South Tyneside College taking first place in the Gym Instructor category.

This is no guarantee of a semi-final spot though. The format of this year’s competition means all scores from each heat are aggregated with the top 12 Gym Instructors and top nine PTs going through to the next stage at Loughborough University in early July. So it won’t be until after the final heat in Glasgow on  that we know who’s made the grade.

Things will be stepped up in Loughborough with the competitors being ‘stretched’ and really tested to prove they have what it takes to go forward to the final at the World Skills Show in November.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my involvement so far and can’t wait to see who’s ready to raise the bar!

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