Being a fitness trainer in the new world of Covid. This particular blog post takes place August 4th, 2020. The perspective of this blog post is of 2020:
I appreciate everybody tuning in! The life of a fitness trainer during COVID-19, August 4th, 2020 is a constant chess match in this environment. Nothing is simple anymore and you have to look ahead.
We used to be able to just bring clients into your gym space and get to work. I feel like it's so hard to do any type of business now. Times are weird. I talk to a lot of people and peoples heads aren't right at the moment. There's not a lot of clarity in the market right now.
People are afraid to go and spend money. It's crazy, never in my lifetime or anybody's lifetime did we imagine being here. Where the economy's just down. Or at least it seems that way in Los Angeles.
One thing that I learned while being in Los Angeles is that LA wasn't affected as badly as other places in the 2008 recession because the entertainment business kept going during that time. While the world economy had tanked, Los Angeles was still recording movies & producing music. They were putting entertainment out for the world to see. LA was doing really well "apparently". That's the history lesson that was taught to me by a local. Definitely not the case during COVID-19.
Los Angeles has been rocked. It's a ghost town at the moment. Really weird place to be. No one's in the streets and many businesses closed down.
At the same time we are experiencing protests in regards to George Floyd & other social issues. Lots of boarded up windows and doors from the protests getting out of hand. LA's been hit pretty hard here. Things aren't right at the moment.
When COVID first hit the mainstream at the end of February, I was already feeling the pains of COVID earlier that month. My schedule started to break down before everything was closed.
Remember that awkward time for a couple of weeks before things actually shut down? We didn't really know what was going to happen. We didn't know if businesses were actually going to close. Well for me, my business was already closed.
I had already gone home with my tail between my legs. 2020 was supposed to be so good to me. Transitioning to the New Year from 2019 to 2020 was a really special time for me. It was the first time in my adult life that I was really looking forward to the transitioning of the new year. I had so much clarity and focus as to what I wanted to do with myself, and in my business. That was a special feeling to me since I had been so lost for most of my years after college.
So when 2020 first came, it was a great moment for me. The year started with me firing on all cylinders. And then, out of no where within 3 days, my whole fitness business was gone. All within three days of straight cancellations. Devastated. So after my last client cancellation I just went home. I was just so upset. I thought I was done for.
At the time, I felt like I was going to be the only one effected by this. I felt like I was the unlucky one being soloed out. I can't believe that this was happening to ME. I felt targeted & stressed. Everything that I had worked for, all the hustle, all the ups and downs I had to overcome, everything that led me to this business is now just garbage. When I was sharing my struggles on social media, people felt bad, but they didn't really get it yet.
It hadn't really affected them yet. No one believed me. People thought that I was being dramatic. I had a couple people reach out to show sympathy. They thought that this was something that I was going to have to get through. Benny, you got this, you'll be okay!
I was frustrated because I just wanted to tell everyone to kick rocks, screw you, and that you didn't know shit. I was really frustrated at the world. I felt bad for myself.
I had this mindset and was really feeling bad for myself. I think a lot of people are dealing with these problems still, and have been dealing with this pain a lot longer than I had to.
The good news is that I eventually got over feeling bad for myself. It happened relatively quicker than I thought it would. Don't get me wrong, things aren't perfect. Business is still a constant chess match with the rules rigged against me. But, you know, after one week of really feeling bad for myself and not doing anything. I'll never forget this, I woke up feeling good. One morning, I just felt like I wasn't really stressed out anymore. It had left my body. I had begun to realize my schedule was open for the first time ever. I didn't have anywhere to be, which is just a wild concept. Before, I was running around non-stop for weeks on end. I would work everyday with little breaks. And the fact that my entire schedule opened up, and I was able to breathe...i felt that relief. It started to become a blessing.
I began to think clearly. There was nothing I can do anymore at that point except embrace this. It is what it is. Everything's fucked up. What am I going to do about it? I woke up feeling good and I just started being resourceful. I started digging into the archives of my brain as to what to do next. And that's when this became a real positive experience for me.
Overall these Covid times have been a positive experience for me and my life. It just sucks that it has to come in such a really weird way. I would still prefer a normal environment.
But, you know, one of my mindsets that changed during this pandemic is to better prepare myself for the future. Thinking about how do I grow and capitalize during rough times like these?
One thing I've noticed in this pandemic, is that people who are already successful and ahead in the game of life, have property, have businesses, they are some of the people most negatively effected during this pandemic. The people with less assets, less responsibility, less commitments are the ones who are really able to take advantage of this situation and make change to their lives even if they lost their jobs.
These people with less assets, have more flexibility to make changes while people already with responsibility have to alter their life in order to maintain the same responsibility. And that includes myself. I had the ability to make adjustments to my business.
Once I was able to collect my thoughts, I went about executing the new free time I had. And I began taking advantage of the situation. Now, I see this time as a way for me to get ahead. People are stuck in the mud, people are stuck with the bullshit and I'm able to be agile, flexible and resourceful.
I'm a part of a networking group and if it wasn't for that group, my business would be nowhere the level it is today. So one of the first things I did was go to my resources in my networking group, and began to really filter down all of the information that I needed to make a decision on what to do next. So one of the first things I was able to do was secure my income.
This sucks for me to share, but I had to get unemployment money right away. I've never asked for a handout my life, and I'm a hard working dude. But I feel zero guilt about collecting unemployment checks in this particular situation, because this situation wasn't my fault. This isn't anybody's fault. The market got destroyed. And there was no way for me to pay for anything without unemployment money. I live in Santa Monica, California which is not really the cheapest place to live. I've made my investments, I've laid my ground and I'm a responsible dude. So the fact that my entire business got bulldozed, and I got left with nothing like no way. My networking group was able to guide me at this time.
Picking up my stuff, moving or getting another job was out of the question. Hell no. I spent my entire life getting to this point, there is zero fucking chance I'm packing up my stuff moving or switching anything. That wasn't even an option in my brain. So I took the employment money and bunkered down.
Once i secured the income I began to shift my focus to helping out other people. In the beginning of the pandemic, I didn't feel comfortable selling anything to anybody. It didn't seem right. So I had to think about how I was going to appropriately do this.
One thing that I noticed at the beginning of the pandemic was that fitness trainers/professionals were quick to make their pivot online. I noticed people starting to record workouts online immediately.
I had always planned to grow my business online, but I never really understood how to do it. It's almost as if when Covid hit, people were just thirsting at the opportunity to jump online and start recording home workouts. That was like my first impression from my industry. I was slower to this trend and at the time I thought it was pretty lame. The whole world just got rocked, give everyone some space. This isn't the time to be making a quick flip like this. There's a time and a place to do it, but people are hurting right now. People don't give a shit about working out at home right now.
I felt like trainers were really quick to making that flip and I really didn't appreciate it at all. I was still numb. Doing better than in the beginning, but I still didn't feel myself. How to do business in this environment still didn't make any sense to me at all. These were observations that I had about the environment at the time.
Instead of recording workouts online, I decided to reach out to former & current clients. I was reaching out to see if I can lend a helping hand some how. See if anyone wanted personalized workouts for at home. If they wanted any advice on their exercise plan. And you know what, people were very encouraging when I reached out. People were really happy to hear from me. People really actually wanted to do some work. And, that's when I started giving away free programs. I started giving away a ton of free information & exercise programs and that got a lot of momentum going. A lot of my former clients wanted to start doing zoom training. So I started training people through the camera. And that actually was really excellent. And then, that is when I started getting the momentum to build up my online training business
I started a group training class every Saturday, & I teach a Free Live Class every week! It got so much traction in the beginning that I just ran with it to this day. Now it's grown into this whole online group business, which is just so exciting!
Now I've got my own app too! I don't know if I would have had these businesses if it wasn't for this, this crazy, weird time. This pandemic.
My mindset before was just take it day by day. Little actions every day lead to massive long term results, I really believe in that. I still approach my business like that, but since I had so much time on my hands, I just simply put in the hours to build this business. Days and days and weeks and weeks and months and months, sitting at the computer. We literally have been sitting in our homes for months! Just grinding, just working, just building a brand new business.
A whole new way of making money. And now I've got an entire online business. I've got group training, I've got custom online training, I sell my own resistance bands, and I sell my own merchandise.This all grew during COVID. And that's the kind of environment we're in. We're in a very organic, innovative, raw environment where you're able to rediscover yourself and take it to the next level.
I understand not everyone is in a position to take their game to the next level. I know people are hurting. I know people can't even think clearly. People have no idea what they want to do. This is a really hard environment to start a brand or start a new career. I was lucky to already be working as a personal trainer when this pandemic hit.
This is just such a unique time and the opportunity to separate yourself is very possible in this environment. For me, this is like my Renaissance. My come up. When I look back on this time. This is going to be a very special time in my life. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice a lot & endure pain. But for me, I've been able to flourish and overcome these tough times. I've been able to evolve and take my game to the next level. I've always had a high pain tolerance.
When things do get back to normal, this online business will be running by my side. With my 1 on 1 zoom training + all the online programs that I have, I can be full time online if I wanted. That's so exciting to me.
I want to be able to go into the gym for fun and for pleasure, not needing to trade my time for money as a necessity. That's not really my style. Trading time for money is still something I must do at this point in my career, but the future is getting off of that. And that's what the online business has really done for me so far. With my zoom clients, I am still trading my time, but with my membership I am not. I get to use my time more efficiently in this matter.
One question I asked myself early in my online training career is, what are the quality of results for my clients? I don't really know how to do the online game yet.
In my short time of doing online training, I have had some extremely positive results with my clients. I've had a woman lose 30 pounds in three months with taking my group fitness classes. The results for online training are almost better than in-person because the client does a better job of listening and executing full time.
When you see clients in-person they think that interaction in-person is enough. With online training since you never see the client in-person they feel they have a larger obligation to fulfill a good routine all the time since everything is tracked!
I have another woman who joined my App from Chicago & she's lost 10 pounds in two months!
She follows a program on my app that fits her schedule. She has had great success with this program!
Come to my free class Saturdays, 9am! They are located in the Personal Training Group. You could try out my app for free for two weeks too! Just direct message me from my website with the chat box below! Just say "I read your blog and I want to try out the Jamin Fitness App for 2 weeks! These services work well for my clients.
My business has grown during COVID. If you can stay focused in these times, then this is a great opportunity to thrive and grow.
Before COVID, how many of us wanted a break from the constant grind? How many of us wanted to slow things down? Now everything is slowed down and people don't like it. We were all asking for something like this to happen to us but never thinking it would actually happen.
Another positive that's come out of this is people won't take anything for granted anymore. People won't take sports, events or working out or anything for granted because it's all been taken away from us for not just a couple of weeks. But for months. My life has been so different for months.
I want things to get back to normal. I don't care that I'm doing well in this environment. I'll do well when things get back to normal. I'm ready to move on. These days reminds me of the history lessons about prohibition when it was illegal to drink alcohol. Now these days, in a lot of places in the country, you can't be in a gym working out with clients or any environment like that. CRAZY.
Training in a closed space is frowned upon right now and you can get in trouble. If i'm going to go to the gym it needs to be super secretive. Luckily for me, I've got keys to a couple locations. And that's something I've really earned over my years. Like when I first moved to LA I had zero connections and now I've got keys to multiple gyms that I can go in whenever I want and train clients. So that location is going to be super, super low key for now.
I'm like hiding just to train people. It's like, i'm a rebel. I'm going to look back and tell my kids and grandkids that I was hiding training people. People didn't agree with me that I was seeing people but I was doing it anyway because those opinions aren't going to pay my bills. Those opinions of people telling me what to do aren't going to pay my bills!
I don't think closing businesses across the span of the city is the proper way to do things. Just creating so many additional problems. In my eyes, when did the government ever give a shit about our health? It just blows my mind that this is such a priority. The economic ruin, the mental heartaches, the emotional heartaches are just irrelevant to these politicians. Everyone's livelihood is simply not a priority to the people in charge.
I have to duck and dodge, just to make a dollar. Somehow each and every week, I've made it happen since the start of the pandemic. I made it happen. Even when I had no idea how I was gonna make it happen, I did. I am not guaranteed a paycheck, and I have to literally make money happen out of thin air all the time. When things are normal, it's much easier to do. But right now things aren't being booked in advance because people don't know what the fuck is going on.
So real crazy times, like I said, a constant chess match. Kinda feel like a rebel. Kinda feel like a cool kid.
Really just changing my mindset from feeling bad for myself, to how am I going to really take advantage of this situation? Because if you really know how to benefit in times like this, and you're ready, this is something you almost look forward to.
If you know that the next global crisis is going to be your time to shine, would you embrace the challenge? Your Renaissance moment happens during the next great global hardship. Is that not something you would embrace and welcome? Well, that's something that I would welcome as a challenge in the future.
I'm feeling really confident going forward with any type of situation. Covid has really challenged me & changed my strategy for the future.
Home workouts, online workouts, livestream workouts & apps are here to stay. And that's definitely a very positive thing. Because before COVID people knew of online, but if they can do it in-person, why not do it? Now, online training is a real option all the time! You can pick your favorite trainer, distance isn't an issue and you can have a lot of fun!
And that's a wrap! The life of a Personal Trainer in The 2020 Covid Era! Such a pleasure to share with you! Tune in for episode three! I'm looking forward to it!
My name is Ben Villers fitness trainer, DJ & MC here in Los Angeles, California!