I've seen quite a few people stopping training their clients because they don't like video or aren't interested in video calling their clients.
I think this is a mistake.
It is my firmly held belief that our clients have never needed sessions more than now.
Here are my reasons:
- We might be the only contact our clients have with the outside world
At the moment, people will be feeling lonelier than ever. Depression, anxiety and a hugely changed routine will have quite a few people suffering.
It's not all doom and gloom. Many people are thriving in this situation and are even catching up on getting enough sleep, but even then, the additional interaction with a friendly coach would keep them thriving rather than just surviving.
But many are suffering and we can help them.
Some of my clients have had letters from the government literally forbidding them from leaving the house.
They are single, have no housemates and must be going insane. If I wasn't calling him a couple of times a week via video, he might have zero face to face time with anyone.
If I didn't train him via video because "I don't like video calling" he'd suffer. As a fitness professional, it's my duty to do no harm.
By leaving clients to pretty much fend for themselves at this time would definitely be doing harm.
- Forced into very anti-human behaviors, mental health has never been more of an issue in peacetime
Currently, people are distancing themselves from friends and family. Instead of walking by people on the pathway, people are crossing roads to avoid each other. You can't go and have tea at grandma's house because you might literally kill her by breathing on her.
We can't even have wine and crisps at our friends' house before falling asleep at 10.30 because you can't handle partying anymore. Social events are canceled, holidays are canceled and there is no escape from work because now we all have to work from home, which for many people is a "no-work" space when we aren't all prisoners in our own home (slightly dramatic statement in the UK, but who-knows-where things are going next?
Training and keeping a routine are great for mental health. Natural human behavior like interacting with people is great for mental health.
What could we possibly provide our clients to provide all three things?
Why PT sessions via whatever video-calling service of course!
- Training from home just isn't as fulfilling, empowering and fun when you are at home
Being a coach means you can still help to make the training sessions fun and maybe even special.
Just sending someone a workout via whatever medium you use isn't going to fight the fact that there is a special ritual to going to the gym and to work with your coach. You can help them recreate part of the ritual by just being present.
Yes, it might be hard to come up with exercises that are tough enough to make gains using a tin of paint and a stapler, but rise to the occasion goddamit and show your clients you are there no matter what happens.
Be a leader when it comes to their health.
Without the coach, they are just swinging a kettlebell in their living room and hating it. So suck it up buttercup and get on that video call.
-Maintaining the training habit
What's the best training plan?
Well, if you ask me or some far more experienced trainers than me, you'll probably get the answer that it's a plan that people can stick to 3-5 times a week, every single week. Every single year. Forever.
What makes a great PT?
A great PT is someone that facilitates a lifelong training habit. If people are shut indoors, that habit can't just stop.
A great PT makes people want to train with them because they make people love training.
A great PT loves training people.
A great PT continues to train people, no matter the circumstances.
Coronavirus or not, this should not stop.
Do not stop training people (unless you are like, volunteering at your local hospital or something, in which case, you are a hero.)
The very fact that people have a PT session booked in makes many people do other sessions and therefore makes them healthier.
The fact that someone may be doing a session a week with you also maintains some kind of training habit to stop that person from returning to square one when lockdown has passed.
This keeps people happier, stronger and healthier.
Your PT sessions are more than just a training session.
- Activity levels risk going way down
Because people are stuck in the house, activity goes way down. Having a session of PT ups the activity levels because most people just won't do their own training without our help if they have to train at home. They just won't.
Apart from my Grandma, who keeps doing farmers walks around her garden because she wants to stay strong.
What did I do to deserve to have such a hero as a Grandma!?
I'm going to say this a million times in this article...our clients have never needed us more than now.
- People are still making progress/ the results are the same as in-person training
Just because people are training via video in their home doesn't mean they can't make progress. My clients will all certainly be better at press-ups by the end of the lockdown and if their bench press hasn't gone up directly because of that then I'd be very surprised.
With a creatively constructed plan, good quality PT sessions and not eating like an idiot will mean people can achieve most of their fitness goals or at least maintain where they are.
An elite powerlifter with only bodyweight exercises at their disposal will probably lose some top-end performance, but even if your clients are in this situation you can still help them with visualization homework, bodyweight sessions or just helping them source equipment.
When I first started doing group PT I thought most people would get worse results. They didn't unless their personality didn't suite a group environment. When I started large-group PT sessions, I thought results would be worse, they weren't!*
*I am currently tweaking how I train powerlifters in groups though
What has been interesting to see is that people are still having the same quality of session via video.
You still have to coach in the same way, you just can't touch the person and occasionally camera angles are off and an hour of PT involves a lot more sitting down and I can even wear my slippers if my feet are cold!
You might think you can only get great results with people in-person alone, but it's simply not true. If you are a good coach, you can train people just as effectively via video and I don't think you should shy away from it when our clients have never needed us more.
I didn't think I'd enjoy PT'ing via video and while it's not quite a fulfilling as the in-person stuff it actually is really fun. I can even get my kitten on camera and occasionally coach via the medium of an owl puppet that I've never dared use in-person. Every cloud and all that!
-It's making me a better coach
Over the past couple of weeks, I've taught people to do kettlebell high pulls, Turkish get-ups, banded rows, lateral lunges and a whole host of other exercises via video.
This was partly to challenge me and partly because they are good exercises.
It took a little time but teaching a movement always does.
But do you know what? It was easily doable. If I can do it, you can do it too. It might be uncomfortable at first but if you can master it you will come out on the other side as a better coach.
Rise to the challenge my fellow Trainers!
Hmm, what else has happened this week?
On The Grafters Podcast, we had the one and only Tony Gentilcore on the podcast to discuss how he/we/everyone can navigate the apocalypse as a coach with various tangents thrown into the mix. i absolutely loved this recording.
If you'd like to check it out, simply follow this link:
I released a series of free training sessions on the blog for those in need of a program. They will always be free.
You can find them by following this link:
Thank you for reading!
By Chris Kershaw
The Heavy Metal Strength Coach