Fears when returning to your “normal” personal trainer activities while a pandemic is still very much alive can be frightening. While we have world-class scientists and practitioners developing plans to keep us all safe, the fear is genuine and valid. Taking control of this fear is the first step for getting back to some form of routine so that you can return to working in the gyms and getting your face to face services back on track.
Identify your Fear – The Science Bit
The fear you are feeling about going back to working with your clients is a signal created by your brain, much like the lights on your car’s dashboard. This fear can shut down the mind and keep you from moving forward. The good news is that you can take steps to deactivate the fear by becoming aware that it is just a signal.
The brain is powerful, and its primary function is to keep us safe. Let’s assume you fear to be around people because you do not want to get infected by the COVID-19 virus (which is a perfectly fair way to feel). You have been social distancing, wearing your face mask and washing your hands much more than you used to, over the past several months. But now you are being asked to go back to working with people one on one and in small groups as a personal trainer.
As soon as the plan enters the brain, it begins to analyse the message, connect it to your past experiences, and determine if it will put you into danger. It can be a real danger or imagined as you get carried away with worry or anxiety. The Amygdala, the emotional centre of the brain, releases large amounts of neurochemicals as it decides to have you fight, freeze, or run away.
You may know this as the little voice that tells you not to try something new, but you are not necessarily in danger.
In the case of COVID-19, returning to work could be dangerous unless you limit the risks and follow strict rules. As for the Amygdala, it can deactivate the motivational centres unless you take steps to reprogram your brain. Here is an exercise to help:
1. Write down your goal of returning to work and any fear you may be experiencing.
2. Take six deep breaths, counting to five on inhale, and exhale to deactivate the Amygdala, so you are no longer in a reactive state of mind.
3. AIA – Awareness, Intension, Action. How are you feeling at this moment? You should feel calmer after your deep breathing exercise. What is your intention? Do you want to go back to work or stay in fear? We all want some normality to return. What is one small step you can take right now to get you closer to your desire?
You may need to repeat this step when the fear tries to return.
Know the Facts
Before you head back to work, especially if it is in a larger facility, be sure to know the facts. There are a few sources of misinformation and falsehoods floating around various news outlets regarding COVID-19.
Be sure you are tuned in to legitimate sources, such as the World Health Organisation, and do not rely on social media.
Ask questions and pay close attention to how the facility is keeping everyone safe. Do they have a COVID-19 risk assessment and method statement or policies? Do they have cleaning protocols? Are all employees professionally trained to follow these new policies? Is there adequate personal protective equipment and washing stations?
There may be aspects of being a personal trainer that you will not be able to do in person just yet.
Luckily, many people are becoming accustomed to doing things via video chat and via distance learning. This is arguably the safest way to move forward until the world is no longer in a pandemic.
Communicate with Clients
If you decide that returning to a gym or other space is the best option for you, make sure your clients know how you will keep them safe.
If you’re a freelancer, we advise that you write your own risk assessments and policies to share with your clients. This will help demonstrate your professionalism and how you are taking the necessary steps to ensure their safety. Points to include are policies for social distancing, sanitation and wearing masks.
To accommodate any fear your clients may have, you may want to be flexible and continue offering online training until the pandemic is officially over. If you were to send a survey to them, the answers may surprise you and you may be able to organize your diary into blocks of ‘in the gym’ and ‘virtual’ to maximize your working week.
If you are planning to offer more online services to your clients, you may want to upskill with CPD courses to widen your training techniques. View our store for details of our online courses.