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The Personal Trainer's Future After The Shut Down: It's Time To Rise

The last article I have written was 4 years ago. I had every intention to keep up with a monthly entry but my business began to grow steady and eventually blew up. When you become so busy with work, and have a family to take care of while still keeping up with a training regimen for yourself, you only have so much free time. Hence, I have not had a chance to write, until now. So today's blog is brought to you by the halt of my job as a Trainer due to the Coronavirus of 2020.

It has been almost 3 months since the first death in the US caused by Covid19 virus, 2 months since Italy locks down their country, and 6 weeks since the American government shut down non-essential businesses, closed schools, cancelled large gathering events and enforced stay-at home-orders and social distance practices. Millions of Americans are out of work and many small businesses are worried that they may not be able to survive and weather the storm. Many people are collecting unemployment and many others (self employed, gig workers, freelancers) are still struggling and waiting for financial help.

In the fitness world, all gyms have been closed and many personal trainers who did not already train virtually, scrambled to take their business online.

Fortunately I already had an online fitness group since November and I immediately resorted to that as soon as I closed down my services on March 16th. However that is not my main bread and butter and nor does it replace the energy of training my clients one-on-one, in-person. Virtual training has its time and place but part of what makes us thrive in our jobs is the face to face interaction and connection with our clients. Many trainers and fitness instructors and workers await to return to work, but it's not going to be that easy.

Even with so many rallying on spending money on businesses, the reality is with many Americans having been out of work, it will take some time for the economy to recover and for people to return to normal living. Gyms in some states such as Georgia are making plans to reopen soon, setting strict sanitation and safety protocols in place while still adhering to physical distance. Even with the opening of gyms, group fitness classes will remain closed and will most likely be the last to reopen. Companies like Orange Theory permanently laid off workers and employees without any reassurance of rehiring. It will be a slow start for the fitness industry but there is hope. CEO, Anthony Geisler believes "that health and wellness might be massive keys of focus" after the "coronavirus outbreak subsides."

Fitness professionals, now is not the time to lose hope. Our job may have closed for being non essential but in the end we are and have always been, along with nutritionists, preventive healthcare.

According to a global ranking, America rates number one with a 36.2% of adult population being obese. With obesity, a person's risk of Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, liver disease, strokes, cancer and sleep apnea is higher. And now according to recent headlines, becoming hospitalize due to Coronavirus is also higher.

"Now one of the largest studies conducted of COVID-19 infection in the US has found that obesity of patients was the single biggest factor, after age, in whether those with COVID-19 had to be admitted to a hospital."

In the New York Times, an article was published regarding obesity being linked to the coronavirus among younger patients. “We in the U.S. have not always identified obesity as a disease, and some people think it’s a lifestyle choice. But it’s not,” said Dr. Matthew Hutter, director of the Weight Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. “It makes people sick, and we’re realizing that now.”

With any illness comes those who are more prone to it than others. Being fit and healthy does not automatically make us immune to sickness. However being physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight WILL lessen the risks and severe symptoms.

In researching diseases in medical journals, I was surprised to find under the "What to do" heading, a list of everything regarding prescription medicine but nothing about exercise and nutrition. It is actually mind boggling to me.

What IF, just what if....instead of continuing to be unhealthy, taking our prescribed medicines, and waiting to get sick, we remove ourselves out of the higher risk bracket with exercise, eating right, and taking care of our mind and bodies?

Coach and Trainer, Alexander Vanhouten, founder of Defining Dad Bod said it best regarding "What to Do?" He writes,

"One of the most powerful things I’ve observed in my own coaching career over the years is the CONTAGIOUSNESS of healthy nutrition and exercise. If I help one woman incorporate better nutrition and exercise into her life among balancing being a mother, wife, and full-time worker – her children, her husband, her friends, her family, and EVEN her coworkers begin to follow suit. Its an amazing ripple effect." ~Alex Vanhouten

In conclusion, I write this article not as a marketing ploy, but more of a crying out. Americans, we need to take action, we need to move, we need to walk outdoors, to run, to ride our bike, to do more yoga, to lift weights, to swim, to hike. We need to eat less junk and processed foods, drink less soda and sugar drinks and make less trips to fast food places. We need to encourage our children to stay active and maintain a healthy weight and remind them that being physically active does not stop after high school. We need to lessen our risks of illnesses, disease and severe symptoms. We need to do better for our own sake, the sake of our loved ones and the sake of our health and future. This pandemic is not the end of good health and self-care. In fact, let it be an awakening and the beginning of a brighter future of healthier lifestyles.

To my fellow personal trainers and fitness professionals, this is not the time to despair over our business and loss of clients. This is not the time to worry. This is the time to rise and be front and center, continue to promote, continue to tell everyone what you did in training today, continue to be of service even with a simple text, continue to represent and be vocal about fitness and health, continue to educate and challenge ourselves with higher learning and specialized courses. We need to let those who are struggling know that we are there for them and that we are here to help and use our expertise. We need to be available when America reopens. Now more than ever.

*Irma Ilao is a Master Trainer with The International Sports Science Association. She holds 6 different certifications and is the founder and Personal Trainer at Be Your Own Fit. She is also a professional photographer at Irma Ilao Photography

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