30 November 2023

Young's aspiring gym instructors to study mental health

| Edwina Mason
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Gym teacher coaching student in gym

TAFE NSW Young fitness teacher Jared Kahlefeldt, with fitness student Haylee Miller, says incorporating a mental health unit in next year’s fitness courses will ensure future Young fitness instructors are better attuned to their clients’ needs. Image: TAFE NSW.

The head of the nation’s peak fitness group has welcomed a move by TAFE NSW Young to incorporate a mental health unit into its fitness courses, amid new research showing almost a third of gym-goers now exercise to aid their mental health.

AusActive CEO Barrie Elvish, a vocal advocate for the benefits of exercising for mental wellness, said the new unit would ensure future Young fitness instructors were better equipped to help clients navigate their personal fitness journey.

“The inclusion of mental health in the Certificate III in Fitness is a fantastic step forward by TAFE NSW,” Mr Elvish said.

“Physical activity is just as important for our mental health as it is for our physical health and most people work or get active to feel better, rather than look better.

“Understanding mental health and the benefits activity has on our mental fitness from the start of someone’s career journey into fitness will ensure future generations of fitness professionals have the right skills and qualities to benefit their clients,” he said.

A recent 20,000-person AusPlay survey found 31 per cent of respondents were motivated to exercise to maintain mental wellness, a figure that has almost doubled in the past five years.

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TAFE NSW Young will offer a Certificate III in Fitness in 2024, with TAFE NSW choosing to include an elective unit titled, “Working with people with a mental health condition”, which was included after consultation with industry.

The Certificate III in Fitness qualifies graduates to become fitness instructors, a profession set to grow 9.8 per cent over the next five years, according to Jobs and Skills Australia.

The TAFE NSW Young course will be run via a virtual classroom two nights a week, with monthly face-to-face skills workshops at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga.

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TAFE NSW Young fitness teacher Jared Kahlefeldt said the fresh focus on mental health training for fitness professionals was in response to the changing needs of the industry.

“The current research is showing that the number one reason people are attending gyms is to see improvements in their own mental health,” Mr Kahlefeldt said.

“Local gyms are crying out for TAFE NSW graduates but it’s important we prepare them to work effectively in the industry and make a real difference.

“This is such a holistic qualification in a role that is incredibly rewarding, because you’re helping guide people on their health and fitness journey.”

The course also includes units in anatomy and physiology, screening and assessment, and planning and instructing group exercise.

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