Personal Training and the Pandemic

Online Yoga

When the pandemic was just beginning and fitness facilities like the one where I used to work were still open, it was apparent that a tidal wave was headed our way. Within a week, my cancellations went through the roof. When the gym finally closed, I had no idea what the future would hold.

This pandemic has hit Personal Trainers hard: some for the better, some for the worse. An article appeared yesterday on CNN’s website: https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/12/us/personal-trainers-adapt-covid-19/index.html. The author, Amir Vera, discusses the various outcomes for those in an industry that has lost nearly a half-million jobs since COVID-19 came on the scene.

Not surprisingly, there are those trainers who found it difficult, if not impossible, to transition to the new situation. Some trainers (and people, in general), are much more set in their ways and really get thrown for a loop when the rules of the game are changed. Others found ways to pivot and have discovered that not only have they survived the pandemic’s effects, but they are also thriving.

Within days of the closing of my gym, I was on-line offering a daily workout for free. This not only kept some of my clients engaged, but attracted new individuals who were looking for a way to stay active outside of the gym setting. (It also kept me from reverting to a sedentary lifestyle). Within a short time, I was offering one-on-one personal training for free as well. I am grateful that my previous gym paid us a salary (reduced as it was) to allow my fellow trainers and me to do this. There were, of course, those clients for whom virtual was not an option (technical issues or too fragile to work out without direct supervision) and others for whom it was not their cup of tea. Those folks received regular phone calls and emails; I did not want them to forget about me or (more importantly) their own fitness.

When the gym re-opened in June, about 40% of my clients came back. Another 30% stayed on-line (no longer free-of-charge). Another 30% just sort of faded away; I continue to stay in touch every few months, but it is unlikely that I will see them again.

In August, I launched my own business: http://www.athomeseniorfitness.net. It is a niche venture aimed at fitness for older adults. I was lucky to retain many of my previous clients and attracted others through free classes that I offered, advertising in a local paper, and word of mouth. Even though my hours are still less than they were at the height of my career at the gym before the pandemic, I am actually making more money now than I did then.

Most importantly, the pandemic forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to get creative. Every day I had to come up with a new group workout. Every day I had to think about how to provide modifications for those with less ability and those with more. Every day I had to consider how to reach out to clients and keep track of their progress. I also had to learn how to best use technology and adjust workouts to a virtual platform while remaining effective and safe. In a way, have had a shorter time in the industry probably helped me to make all these transitions; I was too new at it to be set in my ways. It made me a way better trainer than I was before. Without the pandemic, I do not know if I would have ever had the impetus and opportunity to start my own business.

I always try to look for the silver linings in my life when things go sideways. The pandemic pushed me to be the best trainer I can be and the results are encouraging. Those trainers who are just waiting it out until things go back to “normal” may be disappointed. Like everything else, some of the changes brought by COVID-19 are here to stay.

As for me, I look forward to the challenges and rewards that this new landscape presents–with my sincere hope that those affected by COVID-19 have a complete and speedy recovery.

How to Help Your &%$#ing Workout

Image result for potty mouth

Today I was working with one of my clients doing bench step-ups; these are not easy and when she lost her balance she let out a word not used in polite company. She was mortified–I think because not only am I a personal trainer, but I’m also a rabbi. She apologized, and I let her know it was OK. In fact there is a study that shows that swearing may actually help your workout.

Research from Keele University in England and Long Island University in Brooklyn shows that swearing can help us push through a difficult workout. It has also been shown to have an analgesic effect; letting out a curse word when we stub a toe or bang an elbow can actually decrease our sense of pain. The study shows that swearing can increase our endurance and strength. The final analysis: dropping the f-bomb can help to manage pain–whether sudden and unexpected or the anticipated pain of a difficult workout.

The research showed that this does not work with everyone in all situations. People who have a tendency to catastrophize (to expect the worst), did not find relief from swearing. It also seems to have a lesser effect on women than men. To read more on this, see the article from http://www.cnn.com that was quoted and re-reported across the globe: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/30/health/swearing-good-for-you-wellness/index.html .

My thoughts are that this is interesting, but I wonder if swearing under your breath would be just as effective. Can we say “freakin'” instead of *you-know-what* and still get the same result? Gyms already have enough coarse language and grunting and groaning; is swearing (which may contribute to further breakdown of civility in our society) worth it for the extra rep or the slightly faster sprint? In my humble opinion, the respect that I pay to my fellow gym-goers dictates that I should try to avoid swearing as much as I can. It’s just not nice. Unless, of course, I drop a 25 pound dumbbell on my foot…in which case all bets are off.

An Intermittent Fasting Success Story

Stopwatch

Here is a story from http://www.cnn.com that talks about this nutrition trend. I like that it also focuses on their exercise journey.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/26/health/intermittent-fasting-jared-sklar-wellness-live-longer/index.html


I don’t know if I could be that strict–only eating between noon and 8 pm–but it seems to work for some people.

More News on Dementia and Lifestyle

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Well, it’s not really “news” since it is simply reconfirming what we already have seen in recent research.

There are studies recently shared at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last week that show that there are five factors that have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life.

Both studies pointed to:

  1. A healthy diet
  2. At least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  3. Light to moderate drinking (alcohol)
  4. No smoking
  5. Engaging in mentally stimulating activity

Engaging in all five decreased risk of Alzheimer’s by 60% compared to those who only had one healthy behavior. Those who added only one of the habits above saw their risk lowered by 22%!

It is becoming more and more clear every day that the decisions we make about our lifestyles at every point in our lives have implications downstream. There is no point at which we are “too late” to add healthy behaviors, and when we do add them the impact is noticeable.

For the full article in http://www.cnn.com, click here: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/14/health/dementia-risk-lifestyle-study/index.html

Judaism teaches us that we are to pursue life. This means we cannot simply wait around and see what is in store for us health-wise. We must at every moment, make healthy decisions; not only will we sense the difference now, but in the years ahead as well.