How Virtual Personal Training Has Made Me a Better Coach
I think we can all agree that the last year has been a bit of a roller coaster for all of us. A time we will look back on in our lives and careers and wonder how we all managed to get through to the other side.
This has been without contest, the most challenging time my personal training business has faced since I started taking on clients over five years ago.Nothing prepares you for your place of work to shut and for everyone to be told to stay at home.
As a personal trainer I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to keep my clients active during the pandemic. I still wanted to be able to support them all through what was a crazy uncertain and stressful time.
So I immediately offered my clients online personal training sessions. Initially we thought maybe a few weeks and then the gym would be back open, little did we know that months would tick by and we would still be training in bedrooms, back gardens and driveways, using any equipment we could get our hands on. I also had my online fitness App clients who needed new home based workouts and more support than ever to keep them on track with their fitness goals online.
It was a really challenging time, adapting sessions and figuring out the logistics of running personal training sessions online. On reflection, I learnt a heck of a lot.
Now feels like a good time to reflect on how virtual training has made me a better coach.
With limited space and equipment, creativity was essential. Whether that was using household items as gym equipment or fabric softener as weights. You name it, I did it during the pandemic.
It meant as a coach I had to think on my feet every week. I couldn't afford to be complacent with my programming and in some cases I couldn't rely on any equipment at all.
It pushed me to find new exercises, ways to warm up and styles of training to keep things interesting and challenging for all of my clients.
During this time I also launched my first ever group coaching program and was able to take on some amazing groups of women that I worked with over 12 weeks. This coaching focused on women's health and fitness and created a supportive environment for people who needed some structure and support to exercise from home.
THE BENEFITS OF HOME WORKOUTS
If there was ever a time to prove you can get a decent workout done at home, this was it.
It showed my clients, and me, that no matter what space or equipment they had, we could get their heart rates up and their muscles working. It was so important that I was able to keep my clients fitness levels consistent throughout and it made the return to the gym a lot less daunting for them once we were able to reopen.
Instead of increasing weights we looked at time under tension, tempo, rep ranges and working to failure. All of these adaptations to body weight movements kept my clients feeling challenged.
Home workouts aren't everyone's cup of tea at first glance so for anyone who feels really resistant to training in their front room I wrote a blog about how to start loving exercising at home.
A global pandemic has untold consequences for peoples mental health. This is something we are going to be feeling the impact of for some time to come.
My clients home, work and family lives were all disrupted. This made every day tasks more challenging and the uncertainty was incredibly stressful at times for all of us.
The one thing I learnt. Exercise can really help with stress management.
It was some much needed time for the client to move their bodies, release some endorphins and have some human interaction (even if it was virtual).
It broke the days and weeks up, gave them some time away from screens and technology and allowed us to talk about what was going on. It really helped. Both me and my clients. Their sessions during the pandemic genuinely kept me sane.
MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE
Keeping in touch with clients and growing your relationship with them in the virtual world is very different.
It requires communication, flexibility, creating space for quiet as well as dialogue, listening and supporting where you can. You have to adapt to picking up on the things your clients aren't saying when they aren't in front of you. Your conversation style has to allow for it to flow better without cutting one another off.
I found giving clients feedback was key, allowing them to understand the new way we were training and how that would benefit them. We also talked about how they were feeling and progressing overall so they felt a sense of achievement. We celebrated them continuing to show up for themselves through incredibly difficult times.
These changes were key to helping clients see and feel the benefits of our training together without them seeing me face to face.
Not only was it great to be able to maintain my existing client base online, but I was also able to expand my offering and work with new clients online through my App. This was something I had been itching to expand and the pandemic gave me time to launch my custom fitness App and launch a brand new group coaching program.
The biggest shift for me after transitioning my entire personal training business online is that it made me a better coach. I didn't have any choice but to get better at what I did, what I offered and how I supported my clients.
I had to learn to be clearer with my teaching points and completely overhaul the way I taught and corrected my clients.
I had to get better at demonstrating exercises with simple language to ensure my clients were exercising safely.
I had to adapt workouts on the spot for anything that didn't work, looked unsafe, or for clients kids wanting to join in. On a number of occasions the session plans went out the window and I learnt how to adapt sessions as they ran.
I also invested heaps of time and effort into upgrading my fitness App, recording my own exercise videos and improving my Facebook members group.
I can reflect back on the last year and despite all the challenges it brought for my business, there were some huge improvements I was able to make. I can see how adapting my business so much has really improved the way I coach my clients both in person, virtually and through my App.
I have loved growing that side of my business and there will always be space for my Weights & Wine community in the virtual world. I love that I am now able to coach women all over the world.