Whilst currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science I have furthered my scope of knowledge around health and social issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people beyond my family, friends and understanding prior to tertiary education. I have done this by selecting specific elective units outside my course map that teach unit material about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their health. the knowledge gained from these units has identified key issues that I, as an aspiring health professional, will endeavour to address.
My undergraduate degree will make me a qualified exercise and sports scientist. This means I will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to write, prescribe, and facilitate exercise programs and interventions that will help increase physical activity levels for the participants of my programs. Through my study I learnt that the physical activity levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly less than that of non-Indigenous Australians. What we know about exercise and physical activity is that it can significantly reduce the physical, social and emotional issues faced by our people. For this reason. I hope to join or team up with an organisation like Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) who provide community-based health care programs to improve the accessibility and affordability of allied health services to improve the health outcomes for our community.
Programs ran by or in partnership with organisations like VAHS address many of the barriers to physical activity that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face including feeling socially unaccepted (improved by programs run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), lack of accessibility (improved by programs being made accessible and funding can be generated for this) and lack of affordability (improved by programs usually partly or fully funded). With these barriers being addressed the physical activity level and overall health outcome has the potential to be greatly improved.
During my time at Melbourne Fitness & performance (MFP), I completed 141 hours of placement. This included face to face coaching, 6am-12.30pm Tuesday morning and 4pm-8pm Friday night weekly. Additional to this we completed education session every 2 weeks of a Friday ranging from 2-4 hours and conducted programming and delivery of an exercise program to our own athlete over 8 weeks for 1 hour per week.
Throughout my placement at MFP, I developed my abilities as a coach in a private strength and conditioning setting facilitating warm ups, overlooking the gym while athletes were completing their prescribe S&C session and prescribing my own athlete a S&C program built around the formula the MFP coaches program their athletes. At MFP I development all 13 attributed for an accredited exercise scientist which I briefly summarise below.
- Integrate knowledge and skills from the core sub-disciplines of exercise science to deliver a broad range of services.
At MFP I was exposed to a broad range of athletes from elite to junior athletes. These athletes came from many different sporting backgrounds. My ability to delivery, prescribe and access exercise session was challenged by the diversity of athletes at MPF and I believe my ability to coach has grown immensely from this experience.
- Critically analyse and apply decision-making and problem-solving skills across exercise science practice.
My ability to critically analyse, decision-make and problem-solve were tested through this placement especially whilst training my own athlete. Throughout my 8 weeks with her I made a number of changes to her program. A specific example of this was in week 1 the BB bench press was prescribed, however when analysing her ability while perform this exercise I noticed a unilateral imbalance, so I changed the exercise to a DB chest press in week 2 to improve this imbalance.
- Design, deliver and manage physical activity and exercise-based interventions including assessments and programming for the purpose of improving health and fitness, well-being or performance.
At MFP most of the clients are athletes and as such improving performance was a huge focus. During the 8-weeks I had with my athlete she progressed well through many of the key lifts. She also managed to get her first start at her VNL side the City West Falcons during this time which was a huge step in her netball career.
- Deliver exercise-based interventions for clients with medical conditions, injuries or disabilities that have been prescribed by a health professional qualified in clinical exercise prescription.
At MFP there were a number of ‘return to play’ athletes which I was exposed to. These athletes were prescribed exercise programs from the physio and coaching staff and I assist in facilitating and coach these athletes through their prescribed programs.
- Apply behavioural change principles to support adherence to physical activity and exercise- based interventions.
Being that MFP in a private S&C service and such the athletes are paying for the service most were willing to adhere and commit to their programs. The biggest change I as a coach could help these athletes with was to push them to achieve there next PB in the gym, this was a case-by-case situation but some athletes needed that extra push to up the weight or next that last rep.
- Use a range of modalities to communicate effectively with clients and relevant stakeholders including families, carers and other health and exercise professionals, and maintain appropriate documentation and records of services.
Throughout my placement at MFP, I kept my logbook as a record of my services provided to athletes. I also maintained professional communication through different mediums including direct communication, digital communication and body language with all the coaches, athletes and parents of junior athletes.
- Practice ethically, collaboratively and innovatively within the scope of exercise science training including referrals to relevant medical and health professionals and/or services as appropriate.
All injured athletes at MFP were prescribe exercise programs through the collaboration of the physio and the coaches, I was to facilitate these programs which meant I was practicing within my scope as the exercise scientist.
- Display professional conduct, decision making, communication, and client-centred care that is consistent with the ESSA Code of Professional Conduct and Ethical Practice.
During my time at MFP, I believe I practiced professionally, providing a safe and friendly environment for the athletes by making appreciate decisions, communicating well and providing client centred care.
- Apply evidence-based practice and compile, critically evaluate and communicate the scientific rationale for professional decision making and service delivery, including evaluation of outcomes.
At MFP we were tasked to present an evidence-based presentation on a chosen topic of our choice. I chose to present research on VO2 max training and the ability to train an athletes VO2 max in just 6 weeks. I also presented a 6-week program that met the research methods and applied it to a private S&C setting.
- Commit to professional self-development in the field of exercise science through educational engagement and ongoing learning, self-evaluation of practice, inter- professional working relationships, innovative practice, and support of new graduates.
I committed to engaging in all the education sessions provided by the MFP staff who were willing to share their knowledge and wisdom from year of experience in the industry. I also engaged with them on my programming and took on board their feedback and applied it to my practice.
- Practice in a safe, respectful and inclusive way that is responsive to the diverse needs of people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, gender and sexually diverse persons, persons of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and persons living with a disability.
Throughout my placement I practiced in a safe, professional and inclusive manner to ensure all the athletes were respected.
- Critically analyse technology and apply appropriate digital practices.
At MFP I was exposed to Train Heroic, an app in which the coaches used to program for their athletes and where the athletes recorded the weights used, reps made or missed and any other feedback. This was my first exposure to a system like this and it was a great tool for the coaches to have.
- Demonstrate professional leadership and advocate for client access to services and the exercise science profession.
Throughout my time at MFP I believe my leadership qualities were on display through my willingness to go that extra mile to help athletes develop, whether that meant staying back 30 minutes to coach someone through the rest of their session or showing pro-activity of the floor when things need to be done.