If you were to ask people at the beginning of 2020 what we thought the year was going to look like, the majority would likely have had positive things to say and a hopeful outlook for the future ahead. Now, more than halfway through the year, the same question would likely be met with sighs, eye rolls, and a generally negative outlook for the future.
When COVID-19 hit, people worldwide began to speculate immediately over how long the pandemic might last, with some saying it couldn’t possibly go on for more than a month and others announcing that we should expect permanent changes. Regardless of the variety of theories, it is true that countries around the globe have mandated significant social change in order to protect their citizens, which has meant some major adjustments on the part of us collectively.
People in every industry and from virtually every corner of the world have been impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, requiring everyone to find new ways of living, working, and socializing. For personal trainers, the outbreak of COVID-19 has meant needing to find entirely new ways to meet with and train clients, otherwise risking their income and financial security. What makes adapting to the COVID-19 era more difficult for individuals in industries like health and wellness than individuals in say, web design, is because of the physical nature of the job.
Work as a personal trainer requires a lot of hands-on and up-close-and-personal interaction with clients, something that simply isn’t possible in the age of COVID-19. Because of this, personal trainers are having to completely change their approach to the job just to stay employed during the pandemic. At PT Academy, we’ve been working with personal trainers and fitness experts for decades, and have seen firsthand how truly innovative members of the fitness community can be.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, personal trainers worldwide are making massive changes to the way they run their business on a day to day basis. Here are just some examples of how personal trainers are keeping busy and employed during this time.
The most valuable (and most popular) tools being used by personal trainers in order to continue offering their services during the COVID-19 outbreak are video conferencing and calling tools. Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and even social media live-streaming services are allowing personal trainers to take their business online, helping them not only to retain customers and keep current clients happy, but also enabling them to connect with new clients, even internationally.
While some trainers were already heavily utilizing technology and social media to promote their services and expand their customer base, the onset of the novel coronavirus has forced the industry at large to make the transition. Now, trainers are using video chat, live streaming, and conferencing apps to do everything from private training sessions to group classes with students around the world.
For many, the allure of becoming a personal trainer is the opportunity to work closely with individual clients. The chance to work one-on-one in private sessions is something that lots of fitness enthusiasts dream of. Many personal trainers work with clients that are similarly dedicated to fitness and wellness, and while working with the average gym-goer can be rewarding as well, having clients that are dedicated to learning from a certified professional may provide an even deeper level of job satisfaction.
One-on-one, personal trainers can change lives, and motivate individuals to harness their own power to achieve their health and fitness goals. The influence a personal trainer can have on a client is incredible, and many personal trainers have expressed concern that the coronavirus outbreak will eliminate that interpersonal connection.
Fortunately, since most people have access to devices that allow for video chatting and conferencing, having virtual one-on-one sessions during mandated social distancing isn’t too difficult after all. A simple FaceTime or Zoom call between trainer and client is all it takes to meet one-on-one without being in the same room, and since your clients will still be able to see and hear you, you’ll still be able to guide them through an awesome workout.
Although personal trainers often work one-on-one in private sessions with individual clients, many also enjoy adding a group session or two to their schedule for a bit of variety and some additional income. Group classes are also a great way to allow prospective clients to see how you teach, giving them an idea of whether they will personally benefit from your training style.
Setting up group classes virtually is super simple, and apps like Zoom make it as easy as sharing a link with anyone who wants to join. These group sessions are not only a great business opportunity, but also a great way to help people keep up their spirits, since working out in a group can boost anyone’s mood.
Prior to COVID-19, when virtual training wasn’t being widely offered, clients could only really choose from personal trainers in their geographical area. Now, especially with live online group sessions, personal trainers are able to reach fitness enthusiasts from around the globe. Virtual personal training, as it turns out, isn’t just useful for keeping business going while practicing social distancing, but is also a great way to acquire clients that would otherwise not be able to attend your sessions.
While paid sessions and group classes are the bread and butter of any personal trainer, the use of social media tools like Instagram Live, Snapchat, and Facebook Stories have given personal trainers a new outlet for advertising. Jumping onto Instagram Live for 15 minutes in the morning to go through a simple stretching routine with your followers is a great way to remind them that you are out there, and increase the chances that new followers will appear.
Sharing simple fitness tips and basic routines for free on social accounts is a relatively low effort and low-cost method of advertising, so even if you don’t see instant results, it won’t cost you to keep trying. This is also one of the best ways to gain those international followers we mentioned above. You can advertise special sessions, post links to sign up for group classes, and use your social media accounts to drive additional interest for your business.
While normally you might gain attention from potential clients by doing a special workshop at your local fitness center, advertising in your area, or setting up your own physical space, social media allows you to attract the same kind of attention without breaking social distancing rules.
Changing Standard Protocols
Although taking services online and making the majority of sessions virtual has proven to be an effective way of continuing to do business during the pandemic, the switch over hasn’t been without some significant changes. Virtual learning may be able to replace many aspects of in-person training, but some modifications have had to be made for the sake of safety and efficiency.
Whereas most personal trainers are already accustomed to gauging the ability and skill levels of their clients in person, the process of communicating and assessing a client changes completely when you bring your sessions online. To successfully train clients virtually, it is best to change standard protocols and expectations from the very beginning.
Stick to the Basics
Without being able to be in the same room with clients, many personal trainers have found it helpful to go back to basics with the majority of their clients. More complex or difficult exercises often require more guidance, something that can’t always be accurately given over a screen. To prevent clients from injuring themselves, getting used to doing a difficult exercise incorrectly, or becoming frustrated by not being able to do it themselves, try taking a step back and giving them an easier task.
If you were practicing a new exercise and your client doesn’t quite have it, step back and have them do the version of that exercise that they are confident doing on their own. For example, if you were working on a pistol squats, but your client isn’t fully confident doing them just yet, dial it back and have them do an easier version like an assisted pistol squat or eagle squats.
Avoid Pushing Too Hard
As personal trainers, we know that there is sometimes a time when clients need an extra push to get them across the finish line, and it is part of our job to make sure we give them that push. In a virtual learning environment, assessing the energy and motivational level of your client can be difficult, meaning that it can be easy to push too hard and unwittingly make a client feel uncomfortable or discouraged.
In general, personal trainers are finding that it is best to avoid pushing their clients too hard for the time being, and are focusing on encouraging them to continue working out while in quarantine rather than pushing for them to cross a distant finish line.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, one of the major elements of a personal trainer’s job is to get to know the needs, troubles, anxieties, and strong-suits of their clients. Now, with virtual learning as the only means of connecting, frequent check-ins on the status of their confidence, the way their bodies feel, and how they are feeling about their lives are more important than ever. To ensure you are on the same page as your clients, you may even feel like you are over-communicating, but soon check-ins will become just another part of your routine.
The Role of PTs In Stress Management
The uncertainty caused by the spread of the coronavirus has had a very real global impact, causing stress and worry for billions worldwide. Uncertainty and stress don’t just impact mental health, they can have a very real physical impact as well, and can contribute to chronic illness, fatigue, and other physical symptoms and health conditions.
As personal trainers, we now have the opportunity to use our skills and profession to help people stay calm, confident, and happy during this time of uncertainty. All good personal trainers know that our job is so much more than just helping someone to achieve physical fitness; it is a way for us to help encourage people to live their best lives, to be their most confident selves, and to take on life without fear.
Exercise and Stress Management
The most basic way we as personal trainers are able to support our clients during this time is by providing them with structured exercise. Most of us are well-acquainted with the idea that exercise can help to relieve stress and mental tension, two things that we have in abundance at the moment. By simply providing your clients an outlet to physically release energy, you are helping them to alleviate stress and feel more at ease in their daily lives.
This is also the reason that group sessions and social-media sessions (i.e. on Instagram Live) have become so popular, since people are looking for a simple outlet to alleviate stress. Even a five-minute stretch or meditation session can give your followers the tools to relax and feel more confident for the day ahead. Scheduled sessions and regularly working with private clients can be even more effective, and you’ll likely find that your clients seem less stressed and tense by the end of each session.
Encouragement, Support, Structure
Now our roles as personal trainers are more important than ever, and we have a unique opportunity to provide encouragement, support, and structurer to our clients in a world where those things are no longer guaranteed. Along with the support we provide to clients in their fitness journeys, we are now able to provide a vital service that will help them to remain grounded and confident eleven in the midst of uncertainty. The structure of a workout routine, the support of someone holding you accountable, and the encouragement of a professional personal trainer who is invested in your success is nothing to be underestimated.
Want to learn more about life as a personal trainer? PT Academy offers courses to help you get certified, has tons of resources to support fitness professionals, and we even have an awesome blog where you can read more articles just like this one.