The fitness industry is one of many forced to adapt to a ‘new normal’ way of working to ensure it comes through the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever.
As lockdown restrictions ease and gyms reopen, Sunderland College sport alumni have discussed the impact that coronavirus has had on personal trainers and their businesses.
In March, gyms joined other social venues such as cinemas, cafes, restaurants and theatres in closing their doors to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further.
Despite the unprecedented situation they now found themselves in, some personal trainers and therapists saw the lockdown as a positive as it helped them plan long-term and look at innovative ways of keeping their customers fit and engaged.
“The pandemic has had a huge effect,” said Ross Colquhoun, who set up The Training Club after studying a fitness qualification at the college. “But during lockdown all our members moved onto our online service which involved live workout coaching and tailored programmes for the equipment they had available.
“We then got to stage 2 which saw our coaching taken outside in groups of four.”
Dynamic 121’s Adam Smith, who studied sport and exercise development, added: “COVID-19 has had a positive impact and helped me identify new dimensions to my business.
“We’re offering outdoor coaching, home visits, family sessions for those working from home or restrictions due to government guidelines.”
For others, such as sports massage therapist Alex Thompson, the situation was less certain as income dropped considerably.
“Time off without pay was horrible,” said the Relax and Replenish owner. “However, the grants and assistance from the government along with savings I’ve put aside have helped.”
In July, gyms and other indoor sports facilities cautiously reopened to customers looking to regain their fitness and improve their mental health after months of working from home and living in isolation, while follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures, such as limiting the number of people using facilities and spacing out equipment.
“During lockdown we achieved stage 3 of the government’s strategy which has seen the opening of our facility,” added Ross, who counts Sunderland AFC footballers among his clients. “We’ve introduced a two-metre work space for each individual and capped each session to a maximum of six people and temperatures are taken upon arrival.
“There is also hand sanitizer and wipe down stations on every piece of equipment which has been used very respectfully by all members.”
Martin Nugent Elite Performance has also started welcoming members and students eager to get a head start on the new academic year back to its facility based at Bede Campus, offering regular health and wellbeing support to those affected by lockdown.
Coach Lee Moore, who is currently studying an MSc, said: “Now the business has reopened we’re slowly getting back to normal, introducing cleaning protocols, regular health checks and mental health session with RISE.”
Although concerns grew over how the fitness industry would survive the COVID-19 pandemic business is building back up steadily for both Adam and Alex, whose staggered session times and flexible bookings are fully booked almost every week, while Ross is looking to expand by taking on additional staff.
“The business forever growing,” he added. “We are about to employ our first member of staff as a coach and nutritionist which will only improve our service to our members.
“For me personally, running the facility and ensuring safety measures are met is a new, yet exciting challenge and a lot different to just being a personal trainer.”
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Our achievement rates are well above the national average.
We are the College of the Year.
(*Top college nationally for BTECs, Pearson 2019)
100% of our HND and HNC students progressed to employment or further study.
(*Destination data, academic year 2016/17, HNC 19+)
We have recently invested £50 million in our facilities.