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Removing barriers and developing volunteers

Removing barriers and developing volunteers key to fitness manager’s success

A strong leader with a passion for community development, Janene Dixon-Smith was presented with the Skills Active Manukura Award at the recent New Zealand Exercise Industry Awards.

Manukura is all about leadership, and how someone's work ethic reflects how they are regarded and supported by those around them. The Manukura Award recognises leaders in the exercise industry, who are engaging with industry training, and are achieving highly with the support of the people around them.

As fitness manager at YMCA Gisborne, Janene leads a team of 16 group fitness instructors, 5 fulltime gym instructors, customer service staff, and a passionate team of volunteers.

Since Janene started at the YMCA in 2014, she has made many changes, including: introducing group fitness classes; refurbishing and converting the gym into a 24-hour facility; and providing all paid and volunteer staff with the opportunity to undertake on-job qualifications.

Membership has only increased since Janene joined the YMCA team. The Les Mills group fitness programme is extremely popular, with approximately 42 classes run each week. The YMCA caters to the whole community, providing subsidised memberships for seniors, students, and green prescription patients.

"It's all about removing barriers for the community, so that people can actually have access to a fitness facility," Janene says.

Another way Janene engages with the community is through providing passionate volunteers with the opportunity to do on-job qualifications that allow them to develop a relevant skillset for their role at the YMCA.

"Skills Active has been a really lovely tool to be able to use with volunteers. Everyone wants volunteers on board, but at the end of the day, they are giving up their time, which is so valuable, and Skills Active has enabled me to have something valuable to give back to them."

Janene is currently completing her Personal Training Business Skills qualification, while also supporting all of her paid and volunteer staff to undertake various qualifications.

Janene believes on-job learning is beneficial for her staff, as it provides them with mentoring, work experience and nationally-recognised qualifications. In turn, this means the YMCA develop passionate, skilled and committed people who add real value to the organisation.

Skills Active chief executive, Grant Davidson, says the Manukura Award is a fitting recognition of the encouragement and support Janene gives her paid and volunteer staff.

"Janene’s passion, professionalism and ongoing support of her staff has been the key ingredient in her success” Grant says.


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