Personal Training During a Pandemic

Written by Emily Stearns

It’s been almost two months that the world has been in various stages of quarantine.  During that time, I’ve seen the fitness world evolve into something completely unprecedented and scary, while at the same time morphing into an industry with incredible new opportunities. Essentially, the coronavirus has leveled the playing field for us all and if we want to survive, we must adapt.

Within the Industry, fitness professionals are referring to the situation caused by the pandemic as a time to “pivot,” a term I find both accurate and endearing. It’s the idea that we’ve had to transform the way of doing our job overnight.  We have been forced to answer some hard questions:

  • How can we remain “personal” if we are separated geographically from our client?
  • How can we continue to effectively “train” a client while not being physically present?

I’m happy to say, for me, I’ve discovered ways to still be effective, necessary, and relevant in my clients’ lives, keeping the majority of my clientele, while continuing to expand my reach.  Learning and implementing an online training platform has been a challenge but it has allowed me to continue to offer my services, and to maintain my amazing relationships with my clients.   My mentality has always been to embrace the curveballs – if you’re not challenged, you’re not getting any better and you’re not growing as a person.  Twelve years in this industry has given me the confidence, drive, and knowledge needed to effectively “pivot” as my friends & mentors are doing.  Here are some of my top tips for personal training during a pandemic:

  1. Now is not the time to be shy. I’m an introvert at heart, but now is not the time to be shy. Afraid of public speaking? Do it anyway. Talk to the camera, put yourself out there. You’re going to make mistakes. The first few video workouts you record won’t be your best. But at least you’re trying, and if you stick with it, you’re only going to get better (and really, at this point, what option do we have?)
  2. Get creative. I’ve used everything from soup cans to wine bottles to my own toddler to get people through workouts at this point. It’s hard because many of us work in gyms or studios with lots of fun equipment, but gym equipment must now be treated as a luxury, not a necessity, when trying to program personal training sessions for people to do in their own homes. I personally have always enjoyed bodyweight workouts, so I started training during this pandemic with an advantage because I was already very familiar and comfortable working out without needing gym equipment. I highly recommend learning more bodyweight workouts for both yourself and your clients & classes to get yourselves through this pandemic.
  3. Adapt. Personal training is not dead. Fitness is still important. YOU are still important. But you won’t stay relevant & effective if you don’t adapt. Us trainers and our industry can 100% survive this pandemic and stay in business both during this time and after this is over. The only way your career ends now is if you don’t try. If you don’t try to adapt, if you remain stuck in your old ways as the only way, then yes, it is time for you to move on from fitness. Because times are changing and only the creative hustlers, with the quick pivot, will survive. It’s not hard to be one, either. You just have to try.

To my fellow fitness professionals, I have all the admiration in the world for you right now. I’ve had the opportunity to take online classes with all-star instructors that I had only dreamed about ever training with before. My own training style has improved more in the last two months than it has in two years. And yours can too! But you must seize this opportunity in the right way.

Rather than dwelling on what you can’t do (e.g. train in person), focus on what you CAN do (e.g. take free online classes from world class trainers, network & connect with people who used to be too busy but are now confined to a 1-bedroom apartment in NYC.) Attitude is everything, and your success during this pandemic is entirely dependent on how you approach it. Keep an open mind, a positive mindset, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Feel free to reach out to me, if you ever want to talk.