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Recession-Hit Americans Gymming For a Job

by Tanya Thomas on July 22, 2009 at 10:47 AM
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 Recession-Hit Americans Gymming For a Job

With a bachelor's degree in physics, a master's degree in mechanical engineering and no job since January, Molly Fahey has good reason to believe that the 'gym will fix it'.

So she's sweating it -- literally -- at a free workshop and workout for the unemployed at a gym in this upscale suburb of Washington.


"It's a very difficult time right now," Fahey, 26, told AFP after the strenuous workout as sweat continued to bead on her forehead.

"It's challenging and you can feel overwhelmed. Coming here was a really positive experience. I got some good information on resume writing and the job search in general, and working out is always a great thing to do," the lanky marathon runner said.

Fahey and half a dozen other men and women had just spent two hours in an aerobics room in a gym, listening to Malcolm Munro, who calls himself "The Career Fitness Coach", sharing tips on how to build a killer resume and urging the group to leave their personal comfort zone as they try to find a job.

"If you want to get a job, you have to give 100 percent to this," said Munro.

"One hundred percent means you're going to have to do some things that make you feel very uncomfortable. I have clients who have been out of work for over a year, and when they started doing things that made them uncomfortable, they found a job within weeks," he said.

What Munro meant by pushing the comfort envelope was doing things like meeting 20 new people a day, having business cards printed, learning to hand them out -- essentially, marking a change in the way the job hunter has always done things.

What he didn't mean was the physical discomfort that many felt during the workout that followed his pep talk.

Ken Harris, a fit-looking 44-year-old who lost his job as a personal trainer exactly "one month and three days ago", struggled to keep pace with fitness instructor Libby Rubin, a tiny strip of a woman whose energy levels could light up a small city.

"I wasn't feeling great when I got here. I'd been out pounding the pavement looking for a job," Harris said after the workout, which at times left him lying prostrate on the floor.

But after the hour-long workout and Munro's pep talk, he felt as if "my gas tank's been refilled" and he had a new focus.

"I was having a little pity party going on. With the tasks I was given, now I have some other things I need to focus on," he said.

The reason the job hunter's bootcamp combines both the physical and mental is because both are vital to landing a job, Munro and Rubin said. And these days, the legions of unemployed in the United States need all the help they can get.

Official figures show that 9.5 percent of American workers are unemployed, and President Barack Obama said this week he expects the jobless rate to enter double digits this year.

So jobseekers need to add every possible weapon to their arsenal to catch the interviewer's eye, Munro and Rubin argue.

"The more you work out, the better you come across in an interview -- stronger, more confident, more positive... the commitment in your eye tells the interviewer that you are the person for the job," said Rubin.

Finding a job, especially when the economy's in the doldrums, requires bolstering "a mind, body, spirit connection," said Munro.

"If you are not feeling good about yourself, that will carry over in the interview," he said.

"You have to project optimism. One way to do that is by feeling better about yourself and a great way to feel better about yourself is through exercise."

For Harris, not only were the physical effects of the bootcamp felt immediately as he basked in pleasant, post-workout fatigue, but the two hours might have produced professional benefits, too: he was asked to leave his resume at the gym hosting the session.

Source: AFP

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