Helping vs. Profiting

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Hopefully everyone is healthy and safe while we find our way through the pandemic in our midst. I’m sure I speak for us all when I say that I cannot wait for the COVID19 problem to go away and soon.

But what about those of us who used to go to a gym up until last week? You may have decided to self-quarantine but removing yourself from risk for the one hour you may be at a fitness club or workout space is a lot different than those who serve as personal trainers. They are taking a major hit, and it’s hurting in ways no one planned for.

Successful trainers – those booked for a solid 8 hours per day for most days of the week – are obviously better off health-wise if they are not working a long shift in a space often filled with crowds. When clients cancel, trainers don’t get paid. The situation has been critical for a lot of trainers in locations that were in lockdown. As of today, the gym I use changed their sign from “until March 31st” to read “Until further notice”. It’s grim, there’s no other way to say it.

But it’s the response of education providers certifying trainers that really piques my interest. Some providers are offering programs on sale at drastic savings, others are recommending that trainers move their clients to an online situation. Let’s think about that for a moment.

Problem, Meet Solution~

You have a client. They cannot come in to train due to COVID19 closing your gym. You want to train them at home. Now, a few certification organizations have suggested that trainers can use technology (FaceTime and Skype, mainly) to train their client. Sounds great, right?

Use Skype, FaceTime or Zoom to meet with clients

But realistically – how many clients have equipment to train at home? And how many clients with equipment at home would then double up with a trainer at a gym? Wouldn’t they just hire a trainer to do their workouts at home? So we need our client to get some gear to train them at home. Purchasing adjustable dumbbells, stability balls – or any other equipment a client needs – has to then be weighed against their priorities at a time when clients are being laid off due to the economic constraints of the pandemic we’re in. So a client looks at the option and decides to seek out equipment, buy it and use it. Got it.

What Can We Do To Help?

But what about your client’s reluctance to hold onto their money during a time of uncertainty? What about the fact that they have paid the trainer in advance (often this is just how it’s done) and they are now asked to buy more equipment for a temporary situation? Or, what about the client who can’t find bread or meat at the store. Yes, they simply need dumbbells. That will save their exercise conscious at least, right? It’s an interesting expectation. Is it really helping? Maybe this is a sign that a reality check is needed. Furthermore, some organizations have shamelessly tied offers to help with a requirement to buy something else they sell – often at a discounted price. How is that helping?

Realistically, there is not much we can do for trainers in the mess we are in…but how about the fact that many trainers have the same skills used by health coaches? is this a time for a trainer to hunker down and learn to coach clients instead? Now that’s an idea that can get traction.

Think about it. A Health or Wellness Coach serving clients online will not have any changes to make because they are already set up to meet clients using video software and they have been coaching clients in real time before this flaw in the business model of personal training has been uncovered.

It is normal for responses to say “this is a once in a lifetime” pandemic. But is it? Swine Flu, MERS, SARS and Ebola would suggest that it’s perhaps simply a matter of time before this happens again. Be prepared. You will have an edge over those who are prepared may fare better than those who follow bad advice that falls shy of helping.

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