By Logan Dube

Why are you here?

I’m going to guess that you got into fitness because you are passionate about it and you love helping people. Whether you were an athlete in your youth, or had your own fitness mentor who helped you lose weight, gain confidence or recover from an injury, I think it’s safe to say we all come to this profession by way of a calling. It’s not necessarily the kind of job you go to school for. It’s not the promise of huge paychecks and early retirement that draw us in. It’s not a job for the faint of heart.

Uncertainty

But in these times of uncertainly, of club closures, of lay-offs, social distancing and the overall chaos and fear of this global pandemic, I wanted to remind you of who you are. Or who you can be if you take a deep breath and avoid a few pitfalls that I’m starting to see circulate.

My Story

I’m privileged to run a personal training school where we teach the PTA Global Certified Trainer Course in a live format. We help people that are passionate about fitness take the first step towards a new career. Our students are young and mature. Looking for their first job or looking to reinvent themselves professionally. But on day one when we ask, “What inspired you to become a personal trainer?” pretty much everyone says, “I love fitness and I want to help people.” Do you remember why you started? 
I had been a soccer player my whole life, playing NCAA Division 1 in the US and then professionally in the UK. When I stopped playing, I was living in a new city, far from friends, family or any familiarity, so, I signed up for a gym membership. Without a gym full of teammates and a strength & conditioning coach barking motivational slogans I was lost. So, I started taking group fitness classes: yoga classes, spin classes and that barbell class where you do 5 straight minutes of squats to the beat of the music. I loved it. I was a show up early to help the instructor set up, take my spot in the front of the room, die-hard, branded color-wearing super fan. It didn’t take long before I was invited to attend instructor training and take my turn at the front of the room. Without question, teaching classes was the best part of my week – for the first time I felt like I was serving something more than my own selfish goals to win. I was hooked. And then one day, one of my spin participants came up to me after class and said, “Look – my legs are cooked thanks to your classes but I need some help with my arms. I don’t want these wings anymore!” And that’s how I became a personal trainer. Gayle paid me $20 cash to show her some dumbbell exercises. I wasn’t certified yet and I hadn’t even really thought of that as an option. But she was hilarious, worked hard and wouldn’t let me stop training her. Then her friend asked for some help. Then another spin class participant and I never looked back.
So why am I sharing this? Because, if you’re like me, the reason you got into this was because of PEOPLE. And so, I’m going to remind you of who you are. You’re someone who cares about people. You give huge amounts of yourself to help people. You are rewarded in so many more ways than your just paycheck because people put their trust in you, show up to do real and hard work with you, and you get invited to be a part of their transformation.

 

 

Feelings

In the midst of this uncertainty I know, first hand, that we are feeling grief, fear and maybe even anger. The world has already changed in the last month in a way it has never before. Our industry, young as it is, has never faced a global challenge such as this. But we are leaders, Be it to a small group of clients or to a large organization of fitness professionals. How must we lead at this time? With our humanity. With our empathy. With our emotional strength. With our resiliency.
If you have lost your job, or if your gym has closed and faces challenges maintaining financial solvency, you are not alone. If you are scrambling to figure out how to help you clients online or if you should try to find another job in the interim, you are not alone. 

 

Be a Human First

But, now is the time to be a human first. Call your clients. Call your peers. Hold space for them and just ask, “Hey, how are you doing?” You don’t have to have the answers about what will happen with memberships and personal training sessions and refunds or return to service. Just be someone willing to listen. Empathize with them. If it’s appropriate, be vulnerable. Share a little of your own feelings. We know how powerful that can be to building trust. Don’t try to sell them anything. They don’t have to be doing HIIT workouts at home to stay on track with their goals. Start with connection.

Protect Your Mind

The wolf you feed grows. Be mindful of what you read, watch and talk about. I’m all for science and being informed, but I’ve taken a big step back from news and social media at this time because of the overwhelming amount of messaging. I’m staying home, washing my hands, going for walks, eating healthy, taking my multivitamin (because I always do, not because it’s some magic anti-virus pill.) I’m using Face Time to play games with my mom, to talk to my friends and to collaborate with like-minded peers on little personal passion projects. Being a victim to circumstance is a choice. It’s harder to choose other than that if you are inundated by negativity. Control what you can control. You can’t control this situation – you CAN control how you react to it.

 

 

Social Media Etiquette

And lastly, please be mindful of how you speak and what you post. We will survive this. There will be opportunities on the other side of this. The leaders making tough choices right now never imagined being in this situation. Sometimes, it’s just business. It’s not happening TO you, it’s just what’s happening. But what you post says something about who you are. When you return to work, or if you go elsewhere, your current actions will have already defined you. How you respond to adversity is part of your life’s resume. It’s ok to feel scared or angry. But, before you post, take a deep breath. Or sleep on it. Before you react, pause. Remember who you are. You are someone who loves fitness and wants to help people. Lead from there.

 

 

About the Author: Logan Dube

 Logan is a 22-year veteran of fitness, personal training and coaching. Starting out as a soccer player at a young age led to coaching athletes and teams as well as playing NCAA Div. 1 soccer on scholarship in Michigan at the University of Detroit, Mercy. After going on trial to play for Liverpool FC in the UK, Logan got into group fitness via yoga and spin classes before getting certified as a personal trainer and starting to work with clients 1-on-1. Turns out a BA in Psychology was useful after all! Despite a love of movement and all things functional, it was the relational side of training that offered the most interesting challenges and the greatest successes. Logan worked up into club management and multi-unit management before transitioning to fitness education and now runs the British Columbia Personal Training Institute as well as teaching internationally for several certifications and modalities. “The fitness industry is full of incredible people and I know a huge part of my success has come from being surrounded by passionate, smart, & inspiring professionals!”