Sophia Ayranova is a rehabilitation specialist who works for the Ministry of Defence, and as a gym instructor. Her undergraduate degree was in sports rehabilitation and injury prevention. She is studying the MSc course part-time.
Sophia says that the focus on exercise as well as sports medicine was a big attraction of the UCL course. “I do a lot of exercise prescription. “My job is very hands-on, using exercise to rehabilitate military personnel”, she says. “I treat people both one-on-one and in a group setting so my job is very practical. It’s about using exercise for health, for rehabilitation and also for injury prevention – because a lot of conditions are preventable by improving posture and so on. For example, in the military you are expected to carry quite a lot of weight but if you don’t have a stable trunk or a good posture, then it’s going to put unnecessary strain on the back and joints.”
“Exercise is my passion and it’s led to me choosing this course for my Masters degree. It’s such a wide-ranging term – for somebody who’s not active, it could just mean walking up or down the steps every day. One of the highlights of this degree is that it has increased my knowledge of how people with chronic conditions could benefit from exercise – in some ways even more than people who are already active. Inactive people also need exercise, not just sportspeople and athletes – it’s a patient-centred approach.”
Sophia is looking forward to working more closely with colleagues on the course. “The majority of my fellow students are doctors and physios so their level of knowledge is quite high. One of the positives of the course so far has been the chance to hear from a wide range of leading experts: “We’re getting all this knowledge from different experts which is amazing.
Her aim, once she has gained her MSc, is to dedicate her career towards promoting less sedentary behaviour and more activity for the general population. She is also keen to work closely with dancers. “Although I’m doing the Sports Medicine MSc rather than the Performing Arts MSc [also run by UCL and part-hosted by the ISEH – ed.], I actually want to bring sports and dance closer together”, she says. “The general population is in need of education and exercise promotion so I definitely think that’s my career path.
“Somebody might not necessarily like going to the gym but they might love going to dance classes for example where they get to meet somebody else maybe and there’s a social aspect of it that would help with their condition. If you think about dancing, you think about athletic people but I’ve had first-hand contact with the Wheelchair Dance Association and you get tears in your eyes – it’s amazing what they do.