Challenges of part-time study

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Balancing part-time study with a full-time job was challenging but well worth the effort, according to County Derry woman Sinead Brady.

Having successfully completed a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym) at Northern Regional College in Magherafelt, Sinead has now enrolled on the Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training and is planning to do a short Circuits course as well.

She explains the thinking behind her decision to go back to school as a mature student: “I enjoy keeping fit and have always been actively involved in different sports. I play Gaelic with Ballymaguigan Ladies GAC and having completed coaching awards, I now help out with the club’s underage players. “I realised that there are growing opportunities for qualified staff in the active leisure and fitness industries so decided that if I ever wanted to pursue this line of work at a later date, I would need to have professionally recognised qualifications.”

In addition to her learning at Northern Regional College, Sinead is also an administrator with the Empower Project. Based in the College’s Magherafelt campus, Empower provides support to children with Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, their parents and the wider family circle.

Bronagh O’Neill, one of Sinead’s lecturers and course coordinator of the Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing, says the course trains students to a professionally competent level, enabling them to prescribe, plan and deliver safe and effective exercise programmes within a gym or health club environment as a Level 2 Fitness Instructor.

The course offers an excellent foundation in preparation for the Level 3 Personal Trainer course, and employment in the industry.

Bronagh explains: “Last year, the course had a 92% success rate and a number of our full-time students went on to secure full-time employment in a sports related area.”

Sinead adds: “The Level 2 course combined theory with gym-based practice.

“It was hard work but very enjoyable and I’ve had no hesitation recommending it to anyone interested in becoming a fitness instructor.”

Northern Regional College is still accepting applications for some full time and part time Sports courses, including Level 2, Level 3 and Foundation Degree.

Funding may be available for anyone currently working in the active leisure and fitness industries.