|Posted on 4 October, 2018 at 16:05|
Gareth Edwards was just 16 when he signed up to the military. He joined the Royal Engineers, where he became a bomb disposal expert, and took part in tours of Afghanistan, Kenya, Belize and the UK. After 9 years serving his country, Staff Edwards left the forces to pursue new challenges. He became a personal trainer for a hotel chain before going on to be Head of Membership for Active Tameside, where he focussed on helping young people to get fit. However, a military man through and through, he was never going to be happy on civvy street. He explains more: I soon realised that I missed lots of things about the Army. Above anything else, I missed the teamwork - in the forces, you develop a real family bond with the people you work with and it's hard to replicate that in any other jobs. I'd really enjoyed working with the youngsters at Active Tameside and so when the teaching post came up at Military Standard Training, I grabbed it with both hands. I'm a PTI (Physical Training Instructor) and it's my job to get our students fitness levels where it should be. Many are quite sedentary when they come to us, and for them, it can be a shock to the system. It's pretty intense and they have to work extremely hard. We spend every morning training, taking part in exercises including running, distance walking, circuits, log runs, boot runs and team building activities. In just 2 to 3 weeks we start to notice a real difference in both their fitness and in the students overall. Their posture changes, and they start to stand proud. Their attitude and manners dramatically improves and we seem them grow in to fantastic young men and women. In a short time frame the students develop a close bond amongst themselves and with the staff. My role goes far beyond teaching fitness. I offer guidance, helping with their forces applications and also with their personal circumstances. Several of the students haven't had the best start in life, and on more than one occasion I've been told that they see me as a Father figure and that is the best reward of all. I'm just about to celebrate my first anniversary at MST and I can honestly say it's one of the best jobs I have ever had. It's a double celebration, as I've also just achieved a grade one observation for teaching, part of my working towards a level 4 certificate in teaching and learning. I've no previous teaching experience, so this is something I'm immensely proud of. Yet what makes me even prouder is to know that as a team, we are doing something incredible - inspiring young lives and helping them on their journey to a fantastic career.