How did you start working at UniSport?
30 years ago, Pirkko Kantinkoski and Sirpa Koivisto, two UniSport power women, brought ethnic dance to the selection and made them popular. Pirkko asked me to work as a substitute instructor in African dance. At that time, the classes where one and a half hour long treats. Instructing the classes was going smoothly, and I was offered regular classes. Because the classes were so new, they were always fully booked. For a long time, Afro was the only class I instructed. Pilates came along later. I've been a pilates instructor for about 10 years now.
Are you studying or working elsewhere?
I am an entrepreneur. I have my own pilates studio, and I also work as an intructor and trainer at another pilates studio. Alongside dance, I also study everything related to my profession, such as physiology and anatomy, in a very multidisciplinary manner. I try to study as much as I have have time and money for it.
My professional passion is based on continuous learning, and UniSport has supported this. Combining work and studying works well as they support each other. The instructor must also be a student: curious and not too all-knowing so that they are able to remember what is important in instructing. It is important to be in the role of mentee once in a while.
What do you like best about UniSport? What makes UniSport a good employer?
The broad scope of services and expertise. UniSport has many different campuses and sports as well as a wide range of expertise. The university has many faces and so does UniSport. Each centre is different, partly because of the different types of students the campuses have. Different kinds of classes, individuals and instructors. I love seeing people coming and going between classes. The groups are like communities of their own, big and small. We instructors appreciate each other even though we might not understand anything about the other instructor's class.
For 30 years, technology is something I have always appreciated at UniSport. We always have the best equipment and help available. We have always had the opportunity to practice and the best technical setting do so. This has also been very useful elsewhere. During the pandemic, I first had to find out a lot of things by myself, but then I quickly received help from UniSport. I got on board quickly.
One of the best things at UniSport is that self-development is highly valued. UniSport puts values first, and the focus is not on making profit. The values — responsibility, tolerance, equality and community — are suitable for a university, and I also identify with them as an instructor. We fit in at the university, and this has been ensured. The fact that UniSport's values feel self-evident to us shows that the organisation has been successful in its goals. It has achieved a well-functioning operating model.
UniSport has a really smart and diverse group of people. Various kinds of subject matter experts as well as expertise in customer service and communications. People appreciate self-development and it shows. We are educated and well-informed people, and we value and trust the expertise of others. It is wonderful to develop yourself when you see that others are also making the effort.
UniSport's customer promise is "We help you make good choices". How is this promise reflected in your work with the customers?
When customers come to talk with me before and after the class, they often need advice for something. I always try to leave enough time for conversation before and after the class so I can listen, help or guide the customers to a service within or outside UniSport. It's evident that customers need this, and other instructors do it as well as much as they can. UniSport also knows how to handle more challenging encounters and communications, and I respect how patient and professional our customer service staff is as they help and guide our customers. I have always believed in the importance of positive customer encounters, and the interaction between the instructor and customer has also been developed. In the discussions between the administration staff and instructors, you can see that the organisation also provides good guidance and information internally. Asking questions in encouraged.
What is your typical day at work like and what do you like best in your work?
Depending on the number of classes I have at UniSport, I often instruct classes elsewhere on the same day. I will make sure that I arrive at UniSport on time so I can talk with our customer service and administration staff and other colleagues who are present, and also so I can prepare for my class. During the class, I first check that the technology is working, welcome the customers and communicate with them. I leave enough time at the beginning and end of the class for myself and the customers. At UniSport, customers take care of logging in and arriving at class by themselves. They also deal with any problems they might have with these steps with other experts. I can focus on helping with any issues related to the class, workout and overall wellbeing.
The best thing about my job is that I can do what I love. I get to work with something I never get tired of and have a constant desire to develop in. It is a privilege that sharing all this is my job and livelihood. Although there are also challenging and difficult situations, days or times, instructing is wonderful and loving what you teach and teaching it is great. In this job, you must love teaching. Another inevitable part of being an instructor is being the centre of attention. If that becomes too important, it's not good.
One of the best things is the interaction and interesting contents, and how they enable many things. During the pandemic, virtual content has become a significant part of the job, which has decreased and changed the interaction. However, it has been wonderful to reach people on the other side of the world. Our customers have also appreciated the remote participation possibility, and we have received positive feedback for this. Interaction in my engine, and if it didn’t keep me going, I would have to find some other work.
What has been the most surprising part of your work?
When I started, I was surprised that doing the things I love can become a long-term job and livelihood. This has of course required training, hard work and continuing even when being an instructor hasn’t felt so inspiring. Being an instructor is a real profession, and training people for this profession is amazing.
It can also be surprising to see people from a certain field or profession in your class. The variety of sports and people at UniSport is wonderful and can surprise you. Not everything is what it looks like!
What should someone applying for a job as an instructor at UniSport know in advance? For whom is UniSport a suitable place to work?
The work is rewarding if you work professionally and with passion. Customers are used to receiving good service. You want to give your best to them, and it is rewarded. In some health club chains, I have experienced rudeness, which is not present at UniSport. At UniSport, you can be yourself. All kinds of people and instructors are welcome at UniSport. All kind of people can fit in at UniSport. But you have to be open-minded both professionally and towards the community. If you want to work, you will certainly get a chance and the customers and colleagues will appreciate it.
UniSport is a good place to work for anyone whose professional skills fit in the organisation. Professional development is possible even in things that you are not an expert in. We have great people working across the organisation. You’re welcome to join us! No matter what your profession is. Our work community is a great place to be at any stage of your career. I can’t think of a person I wouldn’t recommend UniSport to!