Career Connections

Sarah Gail

Major: Kinesiology and Health

Minor/option/emphasis: KIN-Community and Public Health

Year: Senior
Hometown/State: Iowa

Type of experience: Internship
Company/Organization: Mercy Wellness Center
Company/Organization website:
Title: Fitness Specialist
Destination: 1111 6th Ave Des Moines, Iowa
Timeframe: May 16- August 5 2016

Advisor/Coordinator Email:

I was responsible for...
Lead a number of fitness classes that included 3 intensities of aqua aerobics; No Sweat; and Silver Sneakers. I was in charge of Relay For Life for 8 events that Mercy was involved in. I was able to give three health talks on Smoking Cessation; Cardio 101; and No Weights, No Equipment, No Problem. I was also in charge of Mercy Medical's first experience with Des Moines Corporate Games. I had to rally employees for all events. I also did clerical work when necessary that included membership orientation, equipment instruction, and sending bills.

I accomplished...
I rallied Mercy employees from all departments to get them to play for the Des Moines Corporate Games events. The events ranged from basketball to fitness walking. I was completely thrown into group fitness so I was very timid at first but once I got started teaching a few classes it got easier. I found my found and was able to lead the members just as my supervisor does.

My most valuable effort...
I would have to say that my most valuable project was helping to plan Mercy Day. It will be in October for all Mercy employees and their families at Principal Park. I organized the games and events that all will be able to play.

I learned...
The most valuable experience I encountered was how to lead a group fitness class. I thought this was the most important because I think that as long as I'm in this industry I will have to lead some sort of class whether it's a fitness class or health educating. Being comfortable in front of a class is very important because when you're in front, all eyes are on you. Confidence is a must!

I will never forget...
One of the most memorable experiences happened in my aqua 1 class. As an intern I took over some of the classes from the other full time girls. At this time the members were very fond of Alex and weren't very happy when I took over. There was one woman, Joyce, who just never smiled when I taught class and just seemed to be grumpy all the time. One day I came to class but decided to change the CD from something boring to Elvis. When I walked into class and the music came on Joyce immediately lite up and smiled and started singing along! to see her light up like that made me feel great and like I finally got her approval.

A surprising discovery...
Something that surprised me... I would say how fixated some of the members are about the way things are run. If someone is in their spot in the pool, they will come and complain to us about it. It's really sill but the old ladies are very gossipy too! I love the members though. It was wonderful getting to know some of them personally. The members I have in my Silver Sneakers class are some of my favorite, because we are able to talk while we work out and learn more about each other. They love to have parties and use everything as an excuse to throw one, like Memorial Day and the end of my internship.

Advice for others...
I would say that even though it is not required for CPH, taking the class on leading group fitness classes would be a good idea. I entered my internship with no experience on how to do so and was so scared to start. It doesn't take long to get comfortable with it but I just think that the college course would help immensely.

I first learned about this career-building experience from...
I learned about it through one of my classes with Deb Power. We toured four health fitness and wellness centers in which Mercy Wellness center was one of them. While on the tour I asked if they had an intern for the summer and they didn't so I jumped on the opportunity.

I landed this assignment by...
I emailed the person I was told to while on the tour, set up an interview and within 10 minutes I had the internship!

I wanted this experience because...
I wanted it because it seemed like a low- key atmosphere but also would come with a lot of experience. It had everything I needed as well.

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