Very serendipitously, as I sit to write this for you, I am ONCE AGAIN faced with the prospect of virtual session delivery only as my state (Victoria, Australia) has been plunged back into a Lockdown with the first community transmitted cases of COVID emerging from hotel quarantine after a three-month hiatus of no community transmission.
Once I am able to return to face-to-face sessions after this lockdown, it will actually be the fifth time I’ve had to ‘restart’ my bootcamp sessions in the past 14 months. So what sorts of things to I, as a trainer, have to think about to ensure a smooth transition for myself and my clients back to face-to-face sessions?
There are many logistical things to consider. And I will get to them.
But first and foremost, it is paramount that you work to communicate clearly and in a reassuring way with your clients that their safety is your number one concern.
You know your clients best, so how you communicate that with them is up to you. Be it a phone call (particularly if you’ve got less that 50 clients), an email, a group text or a Facebook group update. Be clear on the steps you are taking to ensure their safety, and allow the time to answer any questions they may have. Depending on where you are, your Bootcamp could very well be the first social interaction experience for your clients. You want to make sure it’s a positive one for them.
By doing this, you’ll also have a chance to remind your clients about the power of community. About how good they used to feel when they caught up with their friends from Bootcamp. And that social health plays an important role in their overall health.
A Checklist For Starting Back At Your Sessions
Logistically, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before restarting your first face-to-face Bootcamp:
- A COVID-Safe plan, in line with your government’s regulations;
- A booking system (especially if your gathering size is limited);
- A check-in system – does your government provide one, or do you just do manual check-ins?
- Providing hand-sanitiser and appropriate cleaning products for use during your sessions;
- How will you ensure physical distancing is maintained during your session?
- Your campers’ fitness levels will have changed – some improved, some maintained and some decreased.
I am well aware that this list makes it all seem doom and gloom. But that’s just not the case at all. Yes, there are practicalities to consider. But let’s look at them in a positive light!
Pre-Bookings To Help Plan Sessions
Having your clients pre-book into your Bootcamp means that you can better cater for them. It gives you the opportunity to tweak your plan to allow for personal modifications that particular clients may need.
Living daily life through a computer screen over the past year may not have given your clients much in the way of personalised experience, so they will appreciate this point of difference.
You may also be restricted by gathering size limits at the start. But what a great way again to add to the personalised experience of your clients. You may be able to split your smaller groups into ‘like’ groups – this may allow you to run one session for your advanced clients and one session for your beginners. Of course, you wouldn’t want to do this for the long run as you want your beginner clients to see the advanced clients hard at work, so they know what they can achieve by sticking with your Bootcamp. But for the short term, it is a great solution for limited gathering sizes.
Running COVID-Safe Sessions
At first, running physically distanced sessions with limited or no equipment may seem like a daunting process. No more high fives, no more games involving touching and no more partner chippers with a shared kettlebell. But this just gives you a chance to get creative in your sessions!
If you are sharing equipment, then you will need to allow extra time for it to be cleaned between uses – so send half your group off for a run while this happens. If you aren’t using any equipment at all, then you can give your clients some amazing opportunities to explore bodyweight movement in a new way. You can teach and refine bodyweight technique.
And games can still happen – you’ll just need lots of cones to define individual working areas and consider instructor led games to reduce clients sharing a deck of cards or a dice. That said, I have big foam dice that clients can kick to roll and they work a treat!
Catering For Different Fitness Levels
And lastly, your clients will come back to you with varying fitness levels. You’ll know about some of these changes – your clients that maintained their sessions with you virtually, clients that maintained their fitness in other ways, and the clients that found the idea of exercising at home far too overwhelming. But then there may be clients that you aren’t sure about what they got up to at home.
So, sneak in some fitness testing to help you assess where your clients are up to. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, or complicated.
A simple partner squat and push up challenge does the trick – set an interval timer for 45 seconds work : 15 seconds rest x 6 rounds. Partner A starts on squats and Partner B starts on push ups. Both count their own reps for the 45 seconds. Use the 15 second rest to communicate these scores to each other. In the next 45 second interval, Partner A aims to beat Partner B’s push up score, and vice versa. Continue counting a swapping for the remaining rounds. By the end of the sixth round, they should both have a maximum score that you can keep track of!
If the past 14 months has taught us anything, it’s how to be flexible and adaptive in our fitness businesses.
You have the wear-with-all to facilitate a smooth and positive transition back to face-to-face sessions.
Keep all avenues of communication open, maintain a positive and safe environment and enjoy seeing your clients together again.
Theresa Prior has a mission to bring Mums and women together in a safe and supportive environment that just so happens to have fun fitness sessions at it’s core. She has been running her own personal training business since 2013. Theresa helps her clients understand that all aspects of their health are equally important.