I don’t know about a lot of you, but with it being 1 year since lockdown was announced it’s making me think back to last year. I wanted to put into words a bit of my experience as I feel it is something that I might look back on in years to come. So here we go…
At the start of 2020 I remember saying to Ross how finally, 6 years on since starting as a PT, I had found the perfect balance of teaching gym classes that I physically taught and classes that I didn’t as well as having a good stream of PT.
Having the balance meant for the first time in years I could start training for myself again as well as earning a decent living, while doing the job I love, and I was so happy to have finally nailed it. I was feeling fitter, stronger and leaner than I had really since I had started as a trainer and feeling more financially secure than previous years.
Then…. covid. I honestly believed it was being exaggerated and the news was scare mongering, and it would all blow over. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong. March everything seemed to escalate so quickly.
I have vivid memories of just watching my income and the job I love be affected at such a rapid pace. I remember with each update messaging Ross, my friends and family to let them know of another update and pretty much all replies were always “shiiitt”, because what more could you say?
I remember class numbers in gyms dropping like mad and where I had full classes it was dropping to half, or less.
Then in the space of a week I received so many updates from gyms and from the council each update getting worse and me trying not to spiral into total panic.
Friday 13th the update was to say that things would carry on as normal, which was reassuring. We just had to make sure everyone was cleaning their equipment and some classes had gaps to allow for extra cleaning.
Then nearly every time I looked at my phone and every morning when I woke up there would be a new update.
By Sunday it was to say classes would run at a reduced capacity but same timetable, then the next morning saying there will be reductions of classes on the timetable then pretty much daily being told that a class I taught would be removed from the timetable.
Tuesday 14th was the first day I nearly cried. Walking around central London and seeing it as a ghost town was where it really hit home the impact this was going to have on so many people and businesses. I then taught to 1 person in the first class and 0 came to the second and realised these classes were probably next to be cut.
In my head I was thinking it was OK, I’d just add more classes outside at the Common as I genuinely thought outdoor training would be OK....
But then on Thursday evening I got the email from the Council saying I could no longer do classes or personal training at the Common.
Oh. My. God. My entire income and job, gone.
I never like to cancel last minute so given I had no idea how to do online training so my friend asked everyone in her flat if we could do the class on the roof terrace and they’d be welcome to come for free as a thanks. We did – that’s how adaptable you guys are I love it.
Friday was my last classes in gyms, and I was still being told they would remain open as long as allowed and I was still naively optimistic it might continue. I even remember saying that I would hopefully see everyone next week. But as I got off the tube on the way home, I saw the update for all gyms to close.
Right there and then I posted a story on Instagram saying the update. I remember kind of laughing in shock and I said guys it’s OK, we will just find a way to do this online and that I was excited for the new challenge. If I’m honest with myself there was a slight weight off my shoulders as I was feeling guilty for travelling on the tube. But I was mostly just TERRIFIED and on the brink of tears for myself and thinking of the impact on others.
I had zero clue how to train people online, would classes work? Would PT work? What, how? Timetable?! Do I need a microphone, music, what platform, will anyone even sign up? Will I be able to afford rent? Also, I HATE being on camera, this is not something I wanted for myself.
I got home and straight away started researching how to do my job online.
Then my laptop got the blue screen of death.
And that was my breaking point. I had a full blown temper tantrum, swearing and shouting at my laptop and then finally cried. You know… ugly crying. Less than half an hour after saying I was up for the challenge, woops.
Ross gave me a hug, he said I could use his mac and I realised I needed to get back on it and also quickly went and got my laptop fixed before they shut.
£100 later my laptop was repaired.
I promoted a free class for the Saturday to test how to use zoom and how it would work and for you guys to give feedback.
So many of you did, you absolute heroes. And you were all teaching me how to use zoom, how I should log on, how to set up zoom meetings, how other people should log in, how to mute people so I could be heard etc.
I think it went quite well but I wasn’t confident so did another on the Sunday.
I got blue screen of death again. Didn’t cry this time.
Paid another £100 to get it fixed but used Ross’ mac for ages for fear of my laptop dying again.
This unexpected cost, combined with losing my gym income and also some PT clients with understandably no notice meant that it just got so urgent for me to do everything I could to still be able to earn a living, and that gave me real focus.
And a lot of you have said that me taking action so quickly was great for you guys as well as it meant you guys also knew that we weren’t all alone.
So that first week of lockdown from 23rd March I just posted on social media each morning and said I was going to put various classes on at lunch as well as my normal evening class for people to try, give feedback and see what worked and what didn’t (for you and for me). And lots of my clients, thankfully were happy to move to online training. It was a decent amount of trial and error.
I did that all week and then it got to the weekend and I spent 2 whole days putting together a jam packed, varied timetable with so many extra classes including Saturday’s, setting up zoom codes for classes and PT clients, making the timetable look good enough to share to people and to add to my website, updating all 3 booking sites, updating on Instagram and Facebook, sending out an email etc. I think I got about 1000 steps all weekend.
I did a paid post on social media to say classes would be on a Pay If/What You Can Basis to let as many people know about it as possible because I truly believe the classes at set times are great for providing structure to each day, to “see” people each day, and then it’s obviously good for your mental and physical health. I didn’t want anyone else losing their income to also lose this too.
How I worded my post seemed to get flagged and I’ve been blocked from any advertising ever since with the reason being I was “trying to scam people out of money”. Woops! (I now 100% rely purely on my social media content (which isn’t great), people finding me on a google search and most importantly word of mouth)
Anyway, I've worked my ass off harder than ever this past year to keep myself and everyone busy, fit and sane on top of trying to ensure I still have an income.
I didn’t expect it to go past June (let alone for a full year!!), so I’ve since had to reduce the timetable a bit to make it more sustainable.
And thanks to you guys, we did it and I’m still here, and even lucky enough to maintain an income that I could still carry on with our plan of buying a place.
We’ve also managed to raise a load of money for charity too, which is another huge bonus.
I’m so grateful for everyone’s support and I feel so lucky that I have a job that meant I was able to go online, where I appreciate there’s so many people who haven’t been so lucky.
With hindsight I needn’t have cried, but the unknown was so scary.
So yeah, a take away for me, that I always try and remind myself anyway but this really hammered home, is just because one door closes, another usually opens. That and I really do love my job and so happy I took the leap I think about 8 years ago now when I got qualified.
I also still don't love being on a camera, but I've gotten over myself and I'm now in the process of doing things like filming my FIT Plans for people with coaching and I've posted some workouts with me in talking, which I'd never have done before. Not great quality but I've started, so that's good!
Who knows what is going to happen going forwards, or what the new normal is going to look like? All I know is that as humans we adapt and evolve, and I’m going to continue trying to do that going forwards. I love that I now have an extra tool to reach people by doing online training and I’ve been able to train my mum, sister and clients who don’t live in Tooting or even in the UK!
I’d also like to say a huge thank you to every single person who has stayed with me, or signed up for personal training with me, or recommended me, or joined a class (1 or hundreds!). Some of you have stuck with me through the entire of lockdown, how cool is that and can't express enough how grateful I am.
Thank you for always being patient and adaptable.
Thank you for your energy, your chat and your business
Thanks to all of you it has meant I’ve been able to continue working, continue helping people, continue making a living, just in a different way.