COVID-19: What Personal Trainers Need to Know


The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has caused chaos in the fitness industry. Due to the widespread notion that visiting high-traffic facilities such as gyms and fitness centres increases one’s risk of contracting the virus, personal trainers all over the world have had their client bases (and incomes) decimated. If you’ve been impacted by the virus, then I want to help you by providing the best possible information and resources that are out there right now.

This article is aimed to address three things:

  1. If you’re unsure of what COVID-19 actually is, I will provide links to some highly credible and well-organised resources.

  2. If you’re a personal trainer that’s been severely impacted by a sharp decrease in visitation to your gym or fitness centre, I’m going to give you some highly actionable strategies you can implement right now to limit the damage to your business and help you maintain some ability to generate income.

  3. If you’re looking for some free resources to supplement your business, I will direct you to resources/products several well-known leaders within our industry have generously offered free of charge due to the difficult circumstances.

Information you need to know

I’m not going to try and educate you on the detailed history of COVID-19, how it specifically attacks the human body or even what you need to do personally to ensure your own safety. Instead, I want to share the highest quality resources I have come across thus far:

  • To learn more about COVID-19, click here. For the latest up-to-date count of cases worldwide, click here.
  • For easy-to-read graphics related to the virus, click here.
  • To learn more about the reasoning behind why governments are putting lockdowns in place, read this article by Scientific American.
  • To learn more about why it’s incredibly important to act right now (both as individuals and as a global community) to contain the spread of the virus, read this article on Medium.

What you can do right now

If you work out of a fitness centre—whether it’s a commercial or boutique facility—you’ve no doubt been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Many fitness centres across the world have been ordered to close their doors indefinitely.

If you’re in a situation where your fitness centre has closed, or if you’ve had a large number of client cancellations because of the virus, here are two things that you need to keep in mind:

  1. If you’re currently working within a fitness facility that is still open, be respectful and empathetic if a client decides to cancel their training session with you. This isn’t a knock against you; your clients are concerned for their health and safety, and rightly so.

  2. This is not the time to start pushing training alternatives. The most important thing you can do for your clients right now is to be there for them as a human being. How do you do that? As Jonathan Goodman recommended in a recent Facebook video: send a text message or an email to your client saying something like this: ‘Hey, how can I help you right now?’ Your client will tell you if there’s anything you can do, and your job is to meet them where they’re at.

  3. Being flexible is more important than ever right now. With clients not feeling comfortable coming into a gym environment, practising social-distancing or being in isolation, their needs are going to be completely different to what they once were. A client who’s particularly stressed might struggle with 30-minute home workouts but might respond better to 5 or 10 minute bursts through the day. By recognising that this is an unprecedented event and that clients are going to have unprecedented needs (and possibly setbacks), we can set ourselves up as resources and allies rather than enforcers.

Alternative training options

Assuming that you have clients who want to explore continuing their training via alternative methods, here are some options that allow you to continue servicing your clients:

  1. Training outdoors. This is a great option, as it allows your client to continue their training while staying away from the gym environment. It’s more than possible to provide your client with high-quality training with minimal equipment.

  2. Remote training. You can run a virtual personal training session using FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp. Running virtual personal training sessions gives you the ability to service your clients from afar without foregoing the personal connection that clients often seek through in-person coaching.

  3. Check-ins. Have your client check-in with you daily or on an as-needed basis. The frequency of client check-ins will vary depending on the client. You don’t have to guess here, just ask your client: ‘What do you feel would work best for you?’

Free resources

Facebook has launched a small business resource hub with actionable strategies, tools and tips to help you navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, several good folks within our industry have come forward and offered their products and services for free.

At the time of publication, the following resources are currently available:

  • Alicia Streger has published a blog post with all sorts of free content and useful resources.
  • Vivian Goh has published a free webinar packed full of value for those who may be concerned about their personal finances as a result of a sharp drop in income.
  • I’m personally offering free 20-minute coaching calls for anyone—no matter where you are in the world—to help you navigate through this crisis. Just drop me a message and we can organise a time to connect.

Final thoughts

The COVID-19 crisis is creating circumstances unique to those within our industry. It’s going to be a tough slog, and none of us know how long this will continue. Keep focused on what’s in front of you, and most importantly, keep moving forwards.

‘Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.’

Jack London

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James McDonald

James is the founder of PT Blogger. He helps personal trainers grow their client-bases, earn more money and thrive in the industry.
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