The British government are allowing personal trainers back to work.  Great news on many levels.  For the mobile personal trainer that works one to one with clients, its brilliant.  We get back to doing what we love – keeping people fit and healthy.  By working we also place less stress on central funding made available to those in finanacial need.  Whilst different from before, maintaining a safe social distance, we reflect more upon coaching during the Coronavirus pandemic.


Fitness coaching via a screen

The coronavirus sent everyone behind closed doors.  Coaching clients remotely sent expert personal trainers behind computer screens.  The lockdown changed the coaching dynamic.  We needed to adapt quickly to keep clients on track.  Whilst Zoom and Facetime technology served a purpose, getting back to work has highlighted the limitations of coaching from home.  The on-screen coaching environment doesn’t accomodate all personality types and learning styles.  Lets look at an example.


A tale of two facilities

Pre-lockdown I used to train two friends at a very well equipped home gym.  Both had gyms, but each had varying types of equipment.  They also had very different learning styles.  In particular, one was very much a visual learner, and would require more demonstration.  Their personality also meant that sometimes movement feedback and suggestions needed to be delivered very softly.  Effective soft skills are far easier to deliver face to face.

Both were keen to continue fitness training during lockdown using the Zoom software application.  Because both clients had different facilities it was a challenge to programme.  Even for experienced and expert personal trainers.  The aim is to maintain the ‘working out together’ feel but allow them to benefit from the facilities.  In particular, the client with the more extensive gym wanted to be able to use it fully!  Via a screen this required careful negotiation and explanation.


Coaching frustrated clients via a screen

Each client had similar sessions with different specific exercises, based on facilities and known preferences.  Each client is different in how they interpret on screen coaching explanations and cues.  This often led to prolonged pauses in order to break down the coaching information, or one of the clients feeling pressured to ‘keep up’, and ‘get going’.  The latter leads to a visible build up of frustration.

Coaching this scenario in person is far easier.  I would have been able to move the equipment into place so that there was no confusion as to who was doing what.  This allows more headspace for each client to assimilate what they are doing.  Furthermore, speaking in person allows that client to pick up on body language, intonation and ‘energy’, making it much less intimidating.  All in all, sessions can run more smoothly and be less intimidating.