Tuesday 13 March 2012
The Stop-Gap That Stuck
I'm sorry. I'll put some a cat at the end or something.
Two years ago I first qualified as a level 3 PT. I was sure I was going to be able to work as a completely freelance fitness instructor eventually, but when I was offered a part-time job in a small gym, it seemed like a sensible stop-gap.
I expected to be there 6 months tops. The hourly pay is terrible. I get no financial support from them for my fitness qualifications, and get paid barely anything for the classes I teach. We've had our hours trimmed back and our pay cheque hacked to the point where it's barely worth my petrol money to come in anymore.
And yet, I am still working there.
The management are a joke. I've had sick days taken out of my holiday allowance without being asked. I've had my personality raked over the coals at a staff review, in front of other members of staff. The day before Christmas Eve I had my pay cheque temporarily withheld because I missed a staff meeting. Last year I was expected to teach a trademarked class that I do not have a qualification in and have no experience of teaching, purely to get more members into the gym. Needless to say, this is pretty dangerous and both myself and the gym could be in a lot of trouble if we got caught (I ended up contacting the fitness body in question for advice, and consequently refused to teach the class - I wasn't popular). I know there are other instructors who teach very advanced forms of rehabilitation exercise without a relevant qualification, with no thought to the long-term consequences. I've watched as my boss does devious and unethical things to keep members in contract. When I've spoken up about it, I've had my concerns dismissed.
Frustrated is not the word. I've spent the last two years getting on with it but it has got to the point where I feel sick every morning I have to go in, and most weeks I have at least one shift where I go home in tears. I feel beaten by it. I'm not sure I have anything left to give.
My freelance work is tootling along, but not bringing in a lot of money, and the market is still pretty dismal. I'm building up my portfolio of content work and have been doing bits and bobs of freelance copywriting, but it's not enough to make up the shortfall yet either. I'm hoping it will be eventually, but I have no idea how long that will take. Another six months? A year? I'm not sure.
I'm not sure either why I've written about this today. I feel angry that I've let it get this bad, angry that I've let it affect my life, frustrated that I could still be here in another year's time. I feel ashamed, too, that I've chased a dream and failed. That there are so many people who have been made redundant, taken a career change, and made it work. But I'm not one of them.
I just needed to say it, I think. I feel better now.
Thankyou for listening.
Here is a kitten in a teacup: