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Fitness trainers get real about what 2020 has taught them – from motivation to going weights-free

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2020 may have been a difficult year, but fitness trainers share how it made them stronger in both body and mind. 

Thanks to Covid-19, 2020 has been a transformative year for the fitness industry. Gym-goers were barred from their beloved establishments for almost half the year and had to make do with working out in small spaces (often equipment-free) at home, while studios and PTs had to adapt their business models and training styles overnight in order to succeed in a struggling economy.

All of these changes resulted in crucial realisations for many in the industry about what their role in the industry is, why exercise is so important to people’s lives and even a new understanding of what “fitness” actually means. We asked five personal trainers to share the most powerful lessons they’ve learned about fitness this year.

“Fitness can turn an awful time into a much more bearable one”

Rhian Cowburn is a personal trainer and the co-owner of Strong + Bendy, a fitness studio in Hackney Wick, London, with an outdoor space that was able to accommodate more classes  and one-on-one sessions while remaining socially-distanced.

“Fitness can help turn an awful time into a much more bearable one. I broke the world record on the battle ropes after focusing on training during lockdown. Battle ropes felt like an obvious place to vent my frustration around my business being closed when gyms were shut and to release my stress and worry over the pandemic. I’ve always known how important exercise was to my mental health, but 2020 has really solidified that for me.”

“I’ve become closer to my clients”

Maiken Skoie Brustad is a personal trainer and group instructor who started posting home workouts on Instagram in March as the pandemic took off, and soon began teaching clients and live classes online.

“At first, like many other self-employed people, I was scared of the future and the impact of gym closures. My job is so physical, I was wondering how it could work. But after the rush that the first live class gave me, I didn’t want to stop. I never thought I’d get used to Zoom or Instagram Live, but I love it now.

I can be more flexible with clients and I can also charge less because I don’t pay rent to a gym. I’ve also become closer to my clients because they can afford to train more frequently, so I’ve gotten to know them better the more time we spend together. We both feel more relaxed in our homes and the edge is taken off. Many of my clients still wanted to continue Zoom sessions even when gyms reopened. I think the fitness industry has a bright future. If we can get through this, we can get through anything!”

Exercise motivation
Exercise motivation: how to stay motivated in lockdown 3

“Helping clients find ways to stay accountable and motivated was key”

Saima Husain is a fitness and mindset coach who went from one-to-one coaching and teaching HIIT classes, to mastering online training and live workouts in 2020.

“Figuring out what people really needed fitness-wise was so important. Creating ‘back to basics’ videos, teaching the importance of mobility and emphasising the need to take care of your mental health became even more essential. Helping clients find ways to stay accountable and motivated was key. Having a connection with a coach gave a sense of relief to many people – the support and reassurance was everything.

People’s drive to keep fit grew immensely. Those who weren’t training took to running, walking or cycling for exercise. They were mindful of the need to keep fit to help them get through lockdown and more importantly, to support their mental health – from fitness for kids on TV (thank goodness for Joe Wicks), to the older generation taking regular walks. I imagine that if you didn’t have the fitness bug before the pandemic, you probably do now.”

“There’s a lot that can be done with bodyweight only”

Zanna Laczo – a personal trainer, online coach and yoga teacher – went fully online this year and now has international clients (not only in London as she did before) with whom she teaches over video call.

“You’re able to get the same results at home as you would in the gym, but without the hassle of travelling, being late or feeling intimidated to exercise in front of other people. With online classes, people can join from the comfort of their own home and still have a great and effective workout.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot that can be done using bodyweight only – but it depends on your goals. I always tailor my sessions to the individuals’ equipment availability. My clients and I are going to keep training virtually because it allows for so much flexibility and location independence.”

“The world has realised the true benefits of fitness and the value of instructors”

Janine George is a fitness professional and voiceover artist who struggled to find the time to build an online platform for her business before the pandemic. It was this year, that she was finally able to  transition all her workouts and fitness services online.

“The world has realised the true benefits of fitness and the value of instructors who work so hard to empower others, which I think has been overlooked in the past. When the country was locked indoors, people sought inspiration, motivation and encouragement to keep their spirits and energy up and fitness was – and still is – enabling the country to keep moving.

As someone who’s self-employed, I’m constantly thinking about content creation while also trying to make sure I look after myself first. Striking that balance is crucial for everyone.”

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

IMAGE: Getty 

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