As we’re all aware, due to the latest COVID-containing national lockdown, fitness spaces will be closed until at least 2 December. While measures are necessary to curtail the steady climb of infections, this is naturally a bitter pill to swallow for those who make their living from getting the masses moving.
‘Although the last lockdown was hard and it was incredible to see people rally together to overcome the challenges safely,’ director of The Foundry and personal trainer Laura Hoggins. ‘But the resources continue to be limited financially and some businesses will simply not make it.’
Many of her PT friends have had to look elsewhere for work, she adds. ‘I am worried for my community and my peers.’
Chatty Dobson, yoga teacher and owner of FLEX Chelsea agrees. ‘Gyms are large sites with high rent that online classes don’t even come close to covering.’
Even though the lockdown is shorter (*touch wood*), this time round has definitely been more difficult, says Sam McGowan, a PT at Gymology. ‘It’s been incredibly tough financially, but mentally too. Because we genuinely love what we do – we want to be there for our clients.’
‘That being said, this year has shown many of the general public just how important staying active is so I know that for those who can survive the lockdown will come out on the other side much stronger.’
Even more so with a little extra help from the fitness lovers out there. Here’s what you can do to lend a hand.
1. Take it outside
Small mercies: exercise restrictions aren’t as strict as they were during the first lockdown. You’re allowed to leave your home for exercise more than once, and you’re allowed to meet up with with one – just one – other person to exercise together, even if you’re from different households. So technically, outdoor one-on-one sessions with your trainer are allowed.
‘The government has given us the go-ahead to train single clients outdoors,’ McGowan says. While this has been great news for PTs, it doesn’t come without logistical problems.
‘The winter weather does make scheduling these things in advance difficult, as does the fact that most people are still at work, so times when they’re most likely to be available for exercise – early morning or evening – will be dark and cold.’ In other words, if this is an option for you, be flexible.
2. Hire a virtual PT
If you have Zoom fatigue (we get you), fear not – getting guidance from a video call while you exercise is not quite the same as staring at your own face during a tedious meeting.
Many PTs will be offering their services via Zoom and other platforms, either group or solo sessions, usually at a competitive price. Working out under their watchful eye is also a great way to drill down on form, and prevent home workout injuries (which, according to a survey by BUPA, are on the rise – they estimate 7.2 million Brits suffered an exercise-related injury during the first lockdown).
And it’s not just about helping them pay their bills, Hoggins says (although that certainly helps.) ‘If you are financially able to do so, it will significantly lift their spirits also.’
‘Remember, their professional purpose is to train you, they are not able to physically be with their community and I have no doubt it would mean the absolute world to them.’
3. Take the online challenge
If one-on-one time with your fave trainer is not an option financially, signing up for the online programmes and platforms they set up in March could work out a bit more budget-friendly.
It’s worth booking through your favourite gym too, says Dobson. ‘It’s important to support the studio as well as the individual – everyone has their favourite instructor, but if you’re constantly booking direct and the gym receives no revenue, it’s quite possible your favourite instructor may have nowhere to teach when this is all over.’
Plus, you may get a few added extras. ‘At The Foundry, we have launched Where The Strong Belong our new fitness and support platform,’ Hoggins says. The platform offers both live and on-demand classes with Hoggins and other PTs.
‘I will also be going live for a chat and Q&A after every class I do, to check in, answer any questions you may have and ensure we continue to connect as a community, everyone is welcome.’
4. Stay in touch
‘Stay connected with your studios or trainers and understand how they plan to move forward during lockdown,’ suggests Rob Smyth, CEO and founder of UN1T.
Just because they haven’t launched an online service yet doesn’t mean it’s not in the works – these things take time. For example, UN1T are launching their platform in December, he says.
‘Are they offering online sessions, producing training programs that can be done at home, offering nutrition programs? Understand what they are doing to adapt and make ends-meet, if you can support them there do so – it might make all the difference.’
5. Offer a donation
One of the silver linings to have come out of lockdown is the sheer variety of live classes on offer – totally free. No judgement here: we all love a free class with our fave PTs.
While many of them won’t ask for money, check out their IG bios or websites for Go Fund Me links or Patreon accounts.
Remember, it’s not simply a case of showing up, hitting live and swinging around some weights. Putting together adaptable classes that work for total beginners as well as seasoned clients is a process, too.
It’s also worth showing support for trainers with smaller followings, says Eryn Barber, a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. ‘A lot of big fitness influencers provide free classes on social media, which is fantastic, but because they have the means to do so. Try finding local personal trainers offering online classes for a small fee and support them where you can.’
Go on, buy them a cuppa.
6. Get social
Trainers often rely on social media – especially Instagram – for finding new clients, so don’t under estimate the value of a little online love.
‘If they’re online, recommendations go a long way,’ McGowan says. ‘Sharing their social media accounts, engaging with their posts and if they have any live workouts getting involved in them too – anything they can do will really help during this time.’
Barber agrees. ‘If you know someone is offering classes, then re-share their post or tell your friends and family about it.’
If you can’t afford to train with them right now, write a good review for your instructor on their website, social media, or even Google reviews, to help them find more clients post-lockdown.
‘There are so many people working in the fitness industry that have a lot of valuable free content out there,’ Barber adds. ‘If they have shared this and it has brought value to your life then shout about it.’
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