Jacinta tells the story
What is it like to be a fitness instructor during a pandemic? Jacinta from NRG Xpress tells the story, one year into it.
Our Personal Training – What is it?
Personal training is an option people take, to get a tailored fitness plan and a one-to-one training program to reach a goal that they might not be able achieve on their own, due to many factors. Motivation, knowledge, accountability and friendship, to name a few.
Normally, a client reaches out to us and looks for information and help, on how to either lose weight or build muscle. Rehab or just a general fitness program. We then make a consultation appointment and meet face-to-face and discuss goals. Over the next agreed time frame, we work together, meeting in the gym 2 or 3 times a week for training sessions. We also take weekly and monthly measurements using callipers and scales. We’re constantly meeting in person, chatting before and after every session about how they are feeling. This could be about their sleeping habits, dietary issues, work or life in general.
Personal Training is personal on many levels. You become an ear to listen to. The clients boast about their achievements, their weekly activities and what they have been up to. On the flip side, you listen to the complaining, the moaning and just watch the sweat pumping out of them, but all of the above are also reasons why we became trainers. We learn to accept both with the profession. This is what we learned in college on how to be the best PERSONAL trainer. Be PERSONAL but professional, be PERSONAL but know the line, be PERSONAL but get your rewards from work being done.
Changes after COVID-19
Now take all this information and bring it into March 2020 when COVID-19 shut our gym doors and practically took everything we learned in college. It made us think outside the box on how we can bring this profession online. Make it personal and still make it work.
Many personal trainers were already online before COVID but personally, I think that people who bought an online program before COVID were already halfway there with motivation and knowledge. They were just lacking the accountability. But, for the other 80% of our fitness population, some people had never worked out at home, never did a class online, nor met a personal trainer over a Zoom meeting.
Can you bring all of this through a screen? Yes, it’s possible. Not the same, but it’s something. We as NRG, started with Instagram Live workouts back in March 2020 straight after our doors were closed. We sent a message to our members to join us on an Instagram and got them to tune into us. I for one didn’t know how to do a Live Instagram. Never mind teaching a class outside of my aerobic studio without my surround sound system where I just pressed play and started my warmup.
Something that I took for granted was walking into the studio with 5 minutes before the class was to commence, with 25 people in front of me, ready to jump around. I could see people’s efforts and know if the class was at the right level for people to get a good workout and not make it too hard or too easy for some. This was what we did every day before COVID hit.
First hurdle we had to jump over was Instagram Live. It went well, apart from some days when the noise of a tractor passing the shed I was in, would cover the sound of my voice. Or, the WiFi connection was so poor that I froze for a few minutes. The hardest part of this new routine was the lack of confidence in knowing if anyone was going to show up for the class.
You saw 2 people joining, 5, 10 and then maybe it might reach 70, but as you continued and put everything into your class, how did you know all of these people were exercising with you? How do you know they weren’t sitting on the couch eating a crème egg, looking at you and picking out the things you were doing wrong.
Your comments at the end, the thank you’s and the emojis that told me they were sweating, exhausted, or the fire emoji were always good compliments. We stayed going with this because even if you made one person’s day better from your workout, then it was all worth it.
Launch of NRG Online
End of May 2020 saw the launch of NRG Online. The NRG Health & Fitness team spent a few months getting this set up. Our team organised cameras for good video quality, speakers for good sound quality, backdrops that looked professional, and music to make this just like your class you took in our studios. It was not an easy challenge but the first week that we started our online timetable it was another great reward for NRG.
Our regular members were signing up. We were getting to see people now logging on and saying hello before the class. Once the class started, we could see people exercising again. We got a few minutes of chat afterwards and asked if the class was OK. We missed these things. It was glorious to see the people you would usually meet 3-4 times a week, coming back to life. Even if they looked tiny on the small screen. This is one of our biggest achievements in lockdown. NRG Online app with over 50 live classes a week.
Are there downfalls to this? Not really, but as a fitness instructor, the hardest part of an online class is that you are missing everything which made us become instructors in the first place. Class atmosphere, the craic between members, the chats and friendships being made. The newbies hiding in the corner, or the member who loved the front of the class. They have done this class so many times, they could attempt to teach it. The signs that your warm up was effective, the huffing and puffing of the main phase that made you feel you have accomplished a good exercise class. The efforts of some that deserved a rest before others. We don’t get any of this online.
Reopening of gyms
The fitness industry has been hit quite hard for changes. Gyms now on reopening become a solo workout. We cannot teach classes indoors until we reach a Level 2 status. Showers and changing areas are recommended to be closed if social distancing cannot not be adhered to. No group training. Masks are mandatory. All the machines on the floor have to be 2 metres apart, so this has halved our machine accessibility. Booking is now essential. Did we ever think you would have to book to use the gym?
I look forward to the day when we can open our gyms safely and welcome back members with open arms. Also, I look forward to teaching a class in front of members. Music blaring, no masks and if you’re too close to someone – it’s ok. Some changes to our industry will stay, and some will not. I feel that people will look forward to coming down to the gym and meeting all the familiar faces. I for one, cannot wait for this day. Thanks to everyone who downloaded the app, adjusted their workouts to suit their day and stayed in touch with NRG.
See you all soon,