Arif: “YMCA Club has helped me become the man I am today”

Meet Arif Kaif who has been volunteering and working at Central YMCA for over 5 years and has been on a personal and professional journey in health and fitness

Arif started volunteering at Central YMCA Club when he was only 15 - a confused teen, finding it hard to adjust - and soon found a passion for the health & fitness industry. Now at age 20, Arif is going into his third year of Physiotherapy at University and will soon be starting a Personal Training qualification with YMCAfit. Arif says YMCA Club has shaped his passion, motivated him and given him the life skills to become the man he is today.

Arif: “I was given roles and responsibilities that would eventually shape me”

“I started at Central YMCA Club when I was 15, not wanting to waste my summer feeling bored, but instead wanting to do something productive with my time that I would still enjoy. This age was a turning point for me as I went from a rather confused teen who was finding it hard to adjust to certain environments, to finding a particular passion in the health & fitness industry. I realised that volunteering at the Club now would play a great role in what I would end up doing further down the line.

I found I had a natural talent for presenting, but my confidence was a skill that needed some work. Interpersonal skills became pivotal as I began to volunteer for the YMCA, and I was given roles and responsibilities that would eventually shape me and my skills to become the man I am today.”

Arif: “I found I had a real passion for teaching children”

“Having turned 16 I was given the opportunity to work as a playworker. This was a huge achievement as I felt my year of volunteering had proven that I had the capability and professionalism to be fit to work within this industry. I found I had a real passion for teaching children a range of disciplines- from football to gymnastics.

Sometimes I would ask myself, am I too young? Will I be taken seriously? Can I handle the responsibility that comes with the job? But after working for a year within the industry, I received lots of encouraging positive feedback from my peers, as well as parents who loved my sessions. Key skills like adapting the sessions for those with difficulties or disabilities was hard at first but I was in an environment which promoted my development.

I taught my first lesson to the children at the playscheme soon after starting due to a coach being late and missing the session. This required me to think on my feet as I wasn't prepared to teach that day, but I was able to utilise skills I had learnt the day before after shadowing another coach, and the session was great! This wouldn't have been possible without the trust the team had in me, and the opportunities they gave me to shadow sessions and contribute to them, and learn key skills as well as how to best communicate with parents on their child’s progress.”

Arif: "It genuinely helps when someone wants to see you progress"

“Following on from this role, I was given the opportunity to support the Central YMCA's work with local schools. I became a sports coach, which required additional responsibility, such as leading my own after school club. The staff were encouraging and supported my development to allow me to independently create and lead a course of sessions for young children. This laid a foundation of learning and trust which would take me through my journey in this industry. It genuinely helps when someone wants to see you progress in a role.”

Arif: "Central YMCA started this journey for me"

"I am now 20 years old going into my third year of Physiotherapy and I feel that Central YMCA started this journey for me. It has not only shaped my passions in what I’m learning, but has motivated me and given me transferable skills  such as time management and communicating treatment options with patients and next of kins. What’s more, I have gained the practical experience and life skills which I am able to apply to my academic work within physiotherapy at University.
After I graduate, I would love to remain in  health & fitness with an emphasis and focus on children, but I am open to any opportunity that may come my way- I believe there is always room to improve and I want to keep on learning. I look forward to many more years at Central YMCA, and I hope that one day I can give back as much as I have received!"

A quote to live by

"A quote that has always stuck with me is “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”. Sometimes, what may seem simple to others is difficult for you, but it is always better to ask questions, learn and develop- looking a ‘fool’ for 1 minute, rather than never asking and never knowing. I believe people can be nurtured and taught anything under the correct guidance, even if they start with no experience at all."