28 Apr 2021

Hannah Clarke, BSc Strength and Conditioning graduate blog

“I want to empower young women to enter strength and conditioning.”

Hi, I’m Hannah, I completed my Batchelor’s and Master’s degrees in Strength and Conditioning at Hartpury University, and now I’m doing my PhD at Hartpury too.

I’ve always loved sport and truly believe I’ve found my niche. As a strength and conditioning professional, you can influence and prepare athletes for the future. I’ll be able to support, educate and coach athletes all the way through a career.

Making a difference

My course made me realise that strength and conditioning is so much wider than lifting weights in a gym! The opportunities to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives are huge – from schools and hospitals to recreational and performance sports.

I lacked confidence in my ability when I joined Hartpury, but the support I’ve had – having lecturers and experts say, ‘You can do this’ – has given me so much confidence.

My own personal experiences, plus seeing other young females with so much potential to be expert practitioners within sport science, but maybe lacking the confidence to do so, has set me on a mission.

Encouraged to get involved

My tutor and lecturers encouraged me to get involved in everything and made me feel that I can make a difference. I want to inspire younger females to go into strength and conditioning, by giving them the support and confidence they need to go for their goals.

I loved the small class sizes and the personal relationship I had with staff. My lecturer knew who I was, my strengths and weaknesses, and could identify where I could improve.

The range of modules that were available to me throughout my undergraduate degree provided me with the opportunity to learn about the wider areas of strength and conditioning. Being able to learn about the craft of coaching, injury rehabilitation, biomechanics as well as physiology, only advanced my understanding of core strength and conditioning modules.

The small practical class size allowed me to gain hands-on experience in using specialist athlete testing equipment, which was beneficial when entering placements and for my Master’s degree.

The Master’s degree provided me with an opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds. It really enhanced my learning experience by interacting with therapists, coaches or PE teachers who have different approaches towards strength and conditioning.

I want to empower females

During my undergraduate and Master’s degree, I did an internship at a local school in their strength and conditioning lessons. It showed me that strength and conditioning is so much wider than I initially thought. When I started at Hartpury, I thought it only applied in professional sport.

Young women have so much potential to succeed in sport, and it made me realise that a goal through my PhD is to educate and empower young women to enter the strength and conditioning or the sports science industry.

My Master’s and PhD

I was thrilled to get a First classification in my undergraduate degree and my Master’s.

I never thought I would be doing a PhD when I started at Hartpury. I’m a practical person and never thought of myself as an academic; I didn’t think I was clever enough.

But the support I’ve had at Hartpury; having someone say ‘you can do it’, ‘you’re the right person for this’ gave me so much confidence. The support given to me by lecturers and Sports Academy coaches has encouraged me to keep developing and following my dreams.

I want to educate and empower talented women to make a difference to the world of sport. My PhD, a significant step towards this, focuses on improving the training schedule of female athletes through enhanced understanding of their menstrual cycle and training needs.

This is my opportunity to be a role model, plus to advance important industry knowledge.

In five years’ time

The dream for any person within the sporting industry is to work in professional sport. Although since being at Hartpury and starting my PhD, I’m enjoying lecturing and research so much that I’m interested in a life in academia. It’s really good to educate people that strength and conditioning is about so much more than muscles and weights, it’s a science.

I love the creativity of staff and students. New research ideas drive new ways of working and I’ve become really passionate about helping students to develop their knowledge.

Written By
Hannah Clarke
Female student with laptop
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