YMCA FTA was set up in 2016 by YMCA Training to help 16 to 18-year-olds kick-start their fitness careers. Students across London, Ipswich, Manchester and Leeds will achieve a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification and can progress onto a Level 3 Personal Trainer. We catch up with 20-year-old Beni who passed his Level 2 Gym Instructor in July…
Like many other YMCA FTA students across the country, Beni from Redbridge has benefited from this free qualification, which is endorsed by fitness industry giants, CIMSPA and REPs and regulated by Ofsted.
“I love everything about this course!”
Beni loved PE at school, especially cross country running and athletics, and he’s always been a huge fan of football, basketball and personal fitness. After achieving mostly C grades for his GCSEs, Beni completed a BTEC in Sport, but felt that university simply wasn’t for him:
“I’m not academic. University is not for everyone - I don’t really fancy it. I'm taking a different route.”
He wanted to pursue a career as a Personal Trainer and as he considered his next steps, he came across YMCA FTA and applied:
“At first I was really nervous and thought that I wouldn’t be accepted, but I was – hurray! I love everything about this course – the studying, exercising and collaborating with others, but motivating people is my favourite part.
Some people are lazy, put themselves down or complain that life is hard, but I say: “Yes, life is hard, but you have to work harder and push yourself to the limit. Don’t give up!” I like motivating others so they can achieve and be successful in life.”
A difficult home life has taught Beni not to give up
Beni understands only too well how hard life can be. Before he was born, Beni’s father – a former sprinter – got knocked down by a car. After Beni came into the world, his father suffered a stroke - linked to the car accident - which exacerbated Beni’s mum’s mental health issues and put extra strain on the family.
Unable to look after their child, Beni was taken away by social services. To make matters worse, as his parents’ relationship was breaking down, Beni was being bullied at school:
“I didn’t like waking up to school when I was little. I really struggled. I lacked confidence and felt weak mentally and physically. I didn’t think I was as good as everybody else. I was a victim of psychological and physical bullying every day in primary school which continued into senior school. It was the same people. I wasn’t popular back then.
My parents took me out of school for about three weeks. My attendance was poor. They probably bullied me because I was black. Some of the bullies got physical, others used words. They pushed me to the floor and called me names.”
Beni’s parents eventually split up when he was 15 and his father ended up in a care home. Beni currently lives with his aunt.
Strong and confident now
When Beni discovered the gym, it helped him to take his mind off things and built up his confidence:
“Going to the gym is good for stress. If you’re angry, the gym is the place to go. I also like to keep in shape and be healthy. I love working out and pushing myself. People respect me now because I have become strong. Back then, I should have been stronger and stood up for myself. Now I am fine. My confidence improves every day. Now I’m popular and smile a lot!”
Beni’s past life experience continues to drive him forward:
“What I went through then, motivates me today. My dad is also a source of motivation for my work, study and exercise. I love him to bits.
My main goal is to become a Personal Trainer and help others to lose weight, build muscle, become strong or help them recover from injuries. I hope to get some clients and show them how to use the equipment safely, but it’s not just about showing people how the machines work, I’ll give them good advice and a nutritional plan too.”
Book your place on the next FTA course!
Do you know anyone between the age of 16 and 18 who would benefit from this course?
The next free FTA course at the YMCA Club starts in January (exact date TBA). It’s a full-time course Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
After one year, they will gain their Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification. They will then have the option to stay on for another year to complete their Level 3 Personal Trainer.
Entry requirements: basic gym experience including use of free weights.
Each place on the course is subject to interview.
Whatever their background, they can find out more and apply here