With the one year mark approaching – of when our lives got flipped upside down – let’s take a moment to recognize what our “new normal” is. A mask being our best accessory (and most necessary might I add), eating outdoors [even in the dead of the winter], a work commute being from the bedroom to another room in the house, regularly forgetting what day it is because the weekends aren’t much different from weekdays anymore, and socially distancing to the point of being MIA on everyone’s radar for more than 24 hours.

And aside from those, the fitness industry specifically has gotten a major makeover throughout this adjustment. Doing almost anything possible to stay relevant, now more than ever gyms and trainers are embracing technology, being extra active on social media, hosting outdoor training sessions and more. With anxiety rising over the easy spread of germs, we can’t help but feel like these changes are here to stay for good. 

CELEB spoke to an up and coming fitness influencer, Quinton Anderson to talk what used to be, what now is, and the uniting of the industry with its members to get through this tough time.

A Quick Introduction

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Quinton, or Q -how most of his clients refer to him- started his journey as a fitness trainer in 2016. With a natural born passion to help others and a destiny to change lives, he took on the challenge to become a coach for Orangetheory Fitness. To qualify for the position you must present a passing grade on one of the top five accredited personal training exams. You must also go through a week of auditions which he explained to be rigorous. Q admitted to having gone through the audition process several times, however, with every chance a bigger fire was ignited within him.Quitting never crossed his mind. And now today, four and half years later, he is a regional head coach in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California. Along with that he is a personal trainer with Recess – a virtual fitness platform for instructors and consumers.

Back To Basics- What Is A Personal Trainer?

When the pandemic hit and stay-at-home orders were put into place, at-home [virtual] workouts suddenly became the new norm. This has changed the workout experience for both ends of the industry. The trainer as well as the trainee. But before we get into those details, we wanted to know what the base expectations for a personal trainer are.

Q shared with us, “In my opinion, a fitness trainer is someone who has put in the hours to study exercise science and how to apply it to people of different backgrounds and fitness levels. The number one priority of any fitness trainer should be member safety. He/she/they is/are expected to be able to create training sessions that are specifically tailored to clients’ needs/goals, both physically and mentally, and safely guide them through the prescribed exercises. Moreover, a fitness trainer needs the ability to empathize, listen, and create rapport with clients. It is crucial that the trainer is able to establish a safe and comfortable environment for clients.”

A conversation about progress- Click to Watch
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Has The Definition of A Personal Trainer Altered With Its New Makeover?

Q believes that the pandemic “has brought much more attention to what is required of a trainer.” He continued on to say “Because of this pandemic, I have had to take on many more personal training clients than group training. A lot of my 1-on-1 clients used to take my group classes before the pandemic, and while they achieved amazing results from those classes, a lot of them, I soon discovered, were pushing through muscle imbalances. This, in turn, prevented them from further improving their muscular strength and endurance, and made them more susceptible to injuries. Our personal training sessions allowed these imbalances to improve, and my clients were able to learn proper form and mobilization techniques to effectively utilize their muscles. So, I think this pandemic has, if anything,helped fitness trainers put their extensive knowledge into action.”

All in all, “There is a lot that goes into being a fitness trainer that, I think, is often forgotten about, especially in this era where social media is prominent and fitness “influencers” are on the rise. All fitness trainers need to be able to address their clients’ potential muscular imbalances and/or physical impediments through a series of physiological assessments before prescribing them workouts, no matter how generic the workouts may seem.”

The “New Normal

From a trainers perspective, CELEB wanted to know how the industry has adapted since the pandemic began. Quinton shared “As a trainer, I have had to find a way to make my sessions as enjoyable as possible for my clients. I have had to give twice as much energy in my virtual classes to replicate the in-studio vibe that a lot of my clients are used to.” 

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The California native expressed the importance in empathizing with his clients now more than ever when saying “Virtual training has not been an easy transition for any of us.” He went on to explain that “In an instant, my members and I went from seeing each other almost every day of the week to not seeing each other at all. We lost access to our community without having a chance to say farewell. So, as a trainer, I have had to do as much as I can to help bring this sense of community and energy into my virtual sessions.” 

Will My At Home Workouts Be As Effective?

CELEB asked: “Can this “new normal” in fitness be as effective as IRL training [especially when it comes to that mind body connection and third-party motivations]?”

Q responded, “Virtual workouts definitely have the potential to be as effective as an in-person workouts. Take a look at Orangetheory’s live platform. Within a year, without any warning of what the pandemic would bring in advance, we were able to create a virtual experience that resembles our in-person studio atmosphere. Physical high-fives and fist bumps have been replaced with emojis. In-person conversations have been replaced with chat features and the unmute button. As for the third-party motivation, we are all still able to see each other and cheer each other on. The mind-body connection is felt by each of us individually. No one can feel that connection for us. At the end of the day, it is up to each person’s own preference. Some people feel their mind-body connection to be strongest virtually, while others will find their connection to be the strongest in-person.”

I don’t know about you, but just reading that got me motivated to get online and get moving.

A More Accessible Way To Exercise

Q shared, “As we know, exercise improves both mental and physical health. Exercise is a source of stress relief and mental happiness for a lot of us [which] has been taken away during this pandemic. There are also people with diabetes or obesity who need exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle, who no longer have access to gyms. It is easy to say that people can exercise outdoors, but the reality is that some people simply do not have the motivation, or the capability, to safely execute exercise on their own.” And that’s where the virtual workouts come in.

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Forbes spoke with Amaya Weddle, the vice president of research and product marketing at Mindbody – a gym management software. In research done by their team they found that the virtual experience is actually making wellness more accessible to consumers. Just like work from from, working out from home saves time in commuting and allows consumers to squeeze in a quick session. Their team noticed a huge jump in consumers accessing virtual content. In March 2020 there were 73 percent of consumers using pre-recorded content vs. the 17 percent in 2019. And 85 percent of consumers were using livestream classes vs. the 7 percent in 2019.

The Battle Against Body Image

There’s no bigger battle than the one with our mirror and who we see in it. Both before and during the pandemic period, a motivation behind exercise has been the physical image that comes with it. However, something that has continuously held people back from stepping into the gym is the fear from intimidation. This idea that they have to look a certain way before even beginning their fitness journey. According to Amaya though, virtual workouts have made all the difference in that. The study done by her team found that consumers with body issues who usually fear being judged or are embarrassed to walk into a fitness studio, don’t have that worry with the online platforms. [Virtually] Working out at home doesn’t just bring convenience. It also brings a new sense of comfort.

The Future of Fitness

courtesy of Quinton Anderson

CELEB asked Q, “Virtual gyms are taking over the market leading people to be even more reluctant to getting back to their local studio or box gym. From a non-political standpoint, do you think a successful vaccine will cause a switch back in the market? Or do you fear that technology can soon take over the ‘in real life’ workout experience?”

He responded with “I would like to say that I do not think technology should be feared when it comes to exercise. I think that technology is revolutionary. It is the foundation of Orangetheory – the ability to track our splat points, calories, and mileage and have it displayed on a screen while we train. It allows us to see our results and progress first-hand. From a non-political standpoint, I think that a successful vaccine will definitely bring some members back into the studio; however, some members may prefer to stick to virtual workouts, and that is okay. While the pandemic has certainly been a challenging adaptation, it has shown us the importance of having multiple sources of fitness. I think that virtual workouts have saved a a lot of us this year, so I think they will stick around. I do not see us getting rid of our virtual platforms any time soon. I think it is awesome that members will have the choice between virtual or in-person workouts.”

And the study done by the Mindbody team backs that up. A survey showed that 46 percent of consumers said that they intend to make virtual classes a regular part of their routine even after studios re-open. A third of consumers also shared that they plan to visit studios that they have yet to attend physically, after having the opportunity to try their workouts virtually. And when referring to Peloton, Mirror and other Smart home equipment, Weddle shared “COVID has accelerated a trend that was already in the making.”

And If You’re Struggling To Find Motivation, Read This

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This year has been tough, there’s no doubt about it. Whether you were a fitness junky before or just becoming one, it hasn’t been easy to find a new niche in exercising. So lastly, CELEB asked Quinton, “What advice would you give to someone who wants to be on top of their fitness but is struggling at this time?”

“I would say invest in your health and learn to adapt. Invest whatever spare time or money you have, into your fitness. If you do choose the virtual route, it is important that you have the time and funds (if needed) to create a designated workout space wherever you feel most comfortable. A nice environment contributes a lot to exercise motivation and performance. If you have access to virtual workouts, try it out. If you have the funds to purchase exercise equipment, buy it. If you live in a safe neighborhood, or have access to a safe outdoor trail, run outside. If you need to be led through a workout, hire a personal trainer. Hire me! If you want a group workout, join Orangetheory! We have some indoor, outdoor, and virtual options! Find what fits your schedule and learn to adapt. Get outside of your comfort zone! Contact me on Instagram, @qualitymaterial ,and we can work something out together!