Movement in New Ways for New Times


By Doris Ward, Personal Training Specialist

Fitness Professionals weigh in on how they are navigating the pandemic.

In this new era of the COVID-19 pandemic, fitness clubs and studios have temporarily shut down, day to day operations have been upheaved, and livelihoods have been jeopardized.


With their security shaken, trainers, class instructors and other fitness professionals are asking, “What now, and how?”


Many fitness consumers, isolating and following “stay at home” measures, have desired direction and inspiration for their at-home workouts. Across Canada, the fitness industry has responded to this “new” reality by launching or ramping up delivery of virtual fitness classes and online services.


Resiliency is key in these uncharted waters, and we must recognize the need to strike a balance between our personal well-being, careers and our client’s best interests.


We reached out to four fitness professionals to ask them how they are managing the current health crisis. Each of them has adapted, pivoted and challenged themselves to move forward; some in very innovative ways, to continue to serve their communities and clients. They offer insight we can all learn from that show examples of resilience, strength, professionalism, and heart.

Anne-Marie Rolfe
Anne-Marie Rolfe
Yoga and Meditation Teacher, E RYT-200​

“The biggest change has been teaching yoga classes online. My initial concerns of ‘can they hear me,’ ‘can they see me,’ ‘will this work,’ soon gave way to ‘wow this is awesome!’ Before the pandemic, I had no idea that teaching online could be this fun and engaging. It keeps me connected to the yoga community and allows people in my network, but not in the same geography, to do yoga together.
This as an excellent time to practice ‘karma’ yoga and simply hold space for clients to process their emotions and energy swings, it’s all part of the experience.​

Rob Dickson, Personal Trainer

“The last few weeks have been tough. The majority of the training I do is small group training, oftentimes having to modify exercises and programs for clients. It is because of this I have decided not to do general fitness instruction on social media. Many of my clients need specific programs because of injuries or limitations and general exercises may not be the best option for them in most cases. I continue to work with any of my online clients that wish to do so, modifying the program for their new circumstances. I also reach out to all of my small group clients individually and continue to work with and support all of them individually in different ways”.​

Mel Martell, Stride PEI​​

“At Stride we have made a complete transition to offering our services online. We have been able to maintain a great sense of community by offering fun, challenging and unique classes that continue to inspire and educate our clients to live healthier and happier lives. We have offered to rent our equipment to our clients and have encouraged them to register for classes in advance via our website or app to maintain a sense of accountability and routine in their lives. Along with our online group classes, we are offering online workshops, special events and private training. As instructors, we know how important it is to execute each pose/exercise properly and effectively. Not being able to see our clients in our online group classes is a huge challenge. Many of the people participating in online classes we have never met, so we do not know their history or what their level of experience is. We must be able to offer modifications (and challenges), as well as clear, concise and accurate cues to the broad audience that we are now offering our services to.” ​

Suzi Fevens, CanFitPro FIS, NWL, 200hr RYT​​

“I was fortunate as I already had a strong online presence both on social media and through my online programs so it has been relatively easy for me to move my classes into a virtual format. In many ways I feel like this is a great time for fitness professionals to show up and serve their clients in a different way, while also providing a sense of normalcy during this challenging time. While we may not be able to come together in the same way as we usually do, being able to maintain some normal routines with the classes I teach has been really helpful for not only myself, but also clients in giving them purpose in their days. This is a challenging time for all, but the more we can come together and create a sense of community, the better!”​

This is a unique time in our history, and events are evolving at lightning speed. For fitness professionals, it’s also a time for creativity, innovation, leadership and compassion. Turning adversity into opportunity is a skill set we can all develop and ultimately use to inspire, lead and create lasting positive change.

Doris Ward is an award-winning Personal Training Specialist with canfitpro and a nationally recognized health and fitness influencer. She leads running, goal setting and body image workshops, as well as specialized yoga classes for chronic pain management and for those who have experienced trauma.


Facebook @DorisWardCoaching

Twitter @DorisWardCoach

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