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October 13, 2020

090 | “Rona” Fitness Future for Trainers and Trainees Alike

fitness future after coronavirus with Annie Miller

I discussed the topic of post-rona fitness as a guest on Daniel Hong’s podcast. So, I thought I’d echo that here, on my own show. Because I think there are great takeaways for you, my audience.

While fitness definitely changed for my clients and myself during different stages of quarantine due to the pandemic, it is mostly going back to normal for us.

By normal, I mean we are all somehow, someway getting our hands on a barbell or heavy kettle bell. Now that looks like garage gyms, dining room bench press between two stools, outdoor facilities, and of course some of us are back in gyms, for the time being.

So when I say normal, I don’t mean the same as pre-pandemic times. It’s an important distinction to make.

I think this topic is nuanced and VERY individual to each person, their life, their circumstances, and so many factors outside of just “is the gym open?”

Most of my clientele are affluent, have held on to their jobs, have a supporting partner or found work during the last six months. And they place an extremely high value on their relationship with exercise. They find joy in the gym, or better yet, with the barbell. So, that has proven to be one of the last things they are willing to give up. Which I think is freaking awesome. But there is also privilege in that. 

I would hate to have this episode be from the standpoint that everyone, everywhere can just build a garage gym or pay for a 1:1 in person socially distanced personal trainer. That certainly is not and will not be the takeaway from this podcast.

What I do wish to ponder is how people in different scenarios can move forward with movement into 2021  – from both the trainer and the trainee perspective.

We will start with the coaches and health and fitness professionals, and then discuss the client perspective. Which I am actually really excited to talk about.

I specialize in online coaching. I have never owned a brick and mortar because I didn’t desire the headache that comes with starting, running and owning one. For 10+ years I watched my friend, past boss and now branding photographer have a brick and mortar for a competitive cheerleading gym. And quite frankly it was a hard pass for me.

With that, I recognize that many of you may have owned or at least worked at a brick and mortar facility before the pandemic. And you’re likely trying to figure out your future as we speak. That’s a huge deal. It’s serious. But also, awesome. You’ve got so many possibilities.

First off, brick and mortars aren’t gone. You CAN have one.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll need to be ready to adapt and pivot when needed. I say that meaning FOREVER. Be ready and open to pivot and adjust when needed.

It’s no secret that those who could adapt and pivot during the last six months did well and may even be thriving now. 

So, for trainers were in person before, we have a few questions to ask:

  • Did you want to transition online? Hi, you’ve had the last six months to start the process. Not build a whole freaking business from scratch. But to at least begin building your presence and platform online.
  • Do you want to work with people in person as your main gig? If yes, then you’ve had the last six months to brainstorm ways to make that happen. I have watched several trainers who work solely with people in person, host the same style class but via Zoom. Get paid through PayPal, make an email list, maybe set up a FB group community, and keep on keepin’ on. Boom.

That’s scalable to some extent and certainly still enough accountability for your clients. You can see them, hear them, and coach them. Of course there are limitations, but still, it’s way better than NOTHING. And could easily hold you over for a few months.

Next up, hello outdoor boot camps, yoga classes, and lifting sessions. These all existed pre-rona by the way. People have been hosting outdoor fitness FIVE-EVER. Limitations here are equipment, and weather. That’s the biggest one I see heading into winter here in the Pacific Northwest. Fitness is about to have to be indoors for the most part.

This is a step up from Zoom classes. The live aspect is added back in. If you’re currently doing one but not the other, I suggest you be open to both moving into a new season.

Another option moving forward is to create a kind of a hybrid of group fitness and online training.

Essentially this transitioning all online. Which doesn’t mean you can’t go back to in person training by the way. Or perhaps you’ll end up doing both.

Without diving too deep into that, you need to first determine what you were good at before the ‘rona, and be REAL and creative about how you can translate that into the online space.

Were you great at programming? At creating and thriving in community? Or movement analysis and coaching? Do you crush the motivational piece – you’re that coach who is like the client’s number one fan? Did you specialize in something?

Then look for how that can be presented in the online space.

  • If you’re good at educating, make resources, short form, long form, a client portal, videos, and get that shit out into the world.
  • If you’re a specialist, then create a program for a specific niche, and begin pumping out content in said specialization like a mad woman
  • You’re the master of community, great – then CREATE ONE but make it online. Facebook community, unity, live workouts or daily workouts that everyone posts!
  • If you are the movement analysis queen, then start making movement content – videos or do’s and don’ts and begin showing just how valuable your help could be to weight lifters or whoever you want to work with.

Those who transition well into the online space are those who are willing to fail and learn. And those who transfer their gifts well from in person to the internet.

And lastly, if you’re great at looking for gaps, do that. This will behoove you during and well after this pandemic. Identifying gaps and filling them well is what great entrepreneurs do.

Shoot. Maybe you even realize through this time that you’re NOT an entrepreneur and you need to work for someone else. No shame. Still, identify your gifts and then apply where you believe you’d add value to a team.

But let’s say what you have could be amazing for corporations. WHERE ARE PEOPLE STILL EMPLOYED? How can you and your expertise serve those communities? Eh?

Perhaps you have a course or even bootcamp that a corporation would pay for on behalf of their employees. This looks good for the corporation and can pay well. Corporate wellness has been a thing for years. Maybe now is your time?

This is particularly great if you’re good at networking.

Generally speaking, look for places of stability, and fill a gap if you can. Maybe for a short time. Maybe for a bright future.

I will say that I don’t think this will last forever. I do think gyms and boxes will open and much of what “used to be” will return to the way it was (in regards to fitness). But for a fair amount of people it won’t. And that’s where we keep options open.

Now, for the client/trainee perspective.

I know this has not been easy for you. Unless literally nothing changed, there have been challenges since March of 2020. That I feel confident saying.

I’ve seen a few things come to fruition over the past six months with my clients, and truly, with myself.

One, is that we value movement more than we knew before. And specifically, the barbell. Movement is great. But we find JOY. Like, giddy, childish joy in the barbell. It’s almost embarrassing. But it’s been a common theme as my clients have been reunited with the barbell.

Two – is that there is power in having a separate place to exercise. The gym, being the most obvious here. It provides a change of scenery. You get there and you have one clear purpose. There is no getting distracted with house chores or the couch. Even created a space in your home, on your patio or in your garage can be monumental in improving your adherence to workouts if you aren’t back in the gym. Make a designated workout space if possible. That goes for now, and beyond the pandemic restrictions.

Third is that mental health is REAL. And a form of movement that you enjoy is VERY good for mental health. I cannot stress this enough. Even just going for walks has been huge for Nathanael and I. I didn’t have access to a barbell or gym for seven months. But we went on two walks per day, sometimes three. And strangely, that did big things for me. It provided a constant, dependable event in my day. Not to mention an opportunity to leave the house, breathe fresh air and increase some circulation.

With that, I will say that shifting your expectations can be a magical, freeing, and even motivating practice. Early on in quarantine this looked like working on new skills like pistol squats or handstands, maybe shifting to a more cardio based goal. Now it might be shifting back into strength but from a very atrophied state.

Whatever your situation, I encourage you to look at your expectations, and change them if needed. Because you can count on your expectations driving your reactions to outcomes and your current state.

You have control over more than you give yourself credit for. That really goes for trainers and trainees alike. Take credit. When you get real with what you could be changing in your life, you begin to realize it’s A LOT.

Noooowwwww, I am not here to shame you. Or pretend that you can change it all at once, nor change it all over night. I am simply challenging you to take a step forward where you can. One step at a time.

And shifting expectations can be a helpful piece of that. They work together – shifting expectation and owning your control.

From both the perspective of the trainer and the trainee, this will be beneficial.

What do you expect from the next six months? From your business? What do you expect from the industry? From yourself? Or from your training?

I don’t know. Only you have those answers, but I do think it’s worth looking into if you’re currently unsatisfied with any of these areas. Or anything else for that matter.

All in all I think we will see a shift to the online space as the pandemic in America lets up and things “return to normal.” I am excited to see what professionals do with fitness moving forward. How they show up, and innovate for the future. Garage gyms are booming, and so are online platforms. Globo gyms aren’t going anywhere and neither are CrossFit boxes, Orange Theory or other group fitness arenas.

But even those will have to adapt moving forward. I know at my local Golds, everything has simply improved from a service standpoint. The facility is even cleaner, there is more space, and each client gets their own towel and bottle of sanitation spray as they enter. It honestly just feels more high end. And I’m certainly not mad at it.

So, we can’t tell the future (of fitness or life). But we know that those who innovate and adapt, tend to survive. If nothing else, I hope you’re learning something about yourself during this time. Which means you can head into the future with more knowledge and insight.

That’s all we’ve got today.

Review of the week comes from loveava and says,

“Each of Annie’s podcasts are PACKED FULL OF INFORMATION!!!! Every single one is it’s own and has value. I find so many great suggestions from Annie that are applicable to my business as well as my life!”

Remember you need to check the show notes (here) to see if you were review-er of the week, and then keep an eye out to see if you were listener of the month as well. That will be in the show notes and Annie’s Weekly Wrap. You can subscribe to Annie’s Weekly Wrap here!

Future of fitness after coronavirus with Annie Miller

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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