A Personal Trainer On How He’s Coaching Clients While Gyms Are Closed

Ryan Florido

Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.

We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand

Ryan Florido left his job in advertising sales for a career in personal training five years ago. Florido started his PT business, Flo Fitness Training, as a way of providing a service that was tailored to the needs of each client.

“The fitness and health industry is filled with a lot of noise and distraction, quick-fix schemes and one-size-fits-all solutions,” Florido told TheLatch—.

“My goal as a trainer and coach is to cut through the noise and BS and deliver sound guidance and support that is specific to the needs of each and every individual I work with.”

The current COVID-19 pandemic has hit many businesses hard, including Flo Fitness Training. TheLatch— spoke to Florido about how he’s how managing his new normal, now that gyms are closed and personal trainers are only allowed to train one person at a time while maintaining social distancing rules.

Alexandra McCarthy: Can you tell us a little bit about Flo Fitness Training?

Ryan Florido: I provide personal training and coaching that suits the goals and needs of my clients, which is mainly 1:1 face-to-face training, preferring a one-to-few business model. This enables me to provide a more well-rounded level of service and helps me understand the nuances of each client in greater detail allows for better exercise prescription.

I am extremely curious about human movement and exercise mechanics and aim to get the most out of each client using safe and highly effective training methods.

I work with people from all backgrounds and understand that at a fundamental level, everybody is built differently and in a unique situation — and therefore my approach is equally specific. If a client doesn’t want to barbell squat, then I’ll find another way to train their legs.

“I believe personal training isn’t forever, so empowerment is key.”

What clients can expect when working with me, is a trainer and coach that is patient, communicates well, and provides an educational experience — I believe personal training isn’t forever, so empowerment is key.

AM: Where are you based?

RF: My base of operations is in St Peters, in a gym facility called Club Lime (formerly Fit n Fast/FNF, but recently acquired by Viva Leisure). It’s more or less your typical big box gym.

AM: How has Flo Fitness Training been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

RF: The pandemic has greatly affected my business by affecting my clientele, many of whom have been impacted financially as a result. Long term clients who have been with me for years are being more discerning with their budget and recalibrating their spending, and understandably so. Other clients are opting to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary exposure to the virus.

AM: What are the challenges you’re currently facing?

RF: As a personal trainer, the closure of gyms and fitness centres indefinitely has had a direct impact on my ability to deliver a reasonable service. Clients pay me to get them fit, strong and healthy and without access to any decent strength training equipment, this has proven to be a considerable challenge.

The clients who have chosen to maintain their training with me are all very understanding of my current situation and limitations I have in the delivery of service. An example of this is that I am respecting the minimum physical distance required between two people and as such, I no longer palpate or provide physical (hands-on) cues to my clients.

It has been less than two weeks since being shutdown and with no reasonable idea of how long this will continue on for, my business along with every other PT is staring down the barrel of a gun.

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Many of us no longer have the luxury or convenience of having access to big gyms with loads of barbell and dumbbell weights, cable and pin loaded machines, plate loaded equipment etc. It’s a sobering thought that those gains we worked so very hard for will be lost due to the lack of normal gym equipment. May you find different and innovative ways to challenge your body into strength and muscle building rep schemes – the type of reps that will activate more muscles and send the right signals to your body to grow bigger and stronger. Be sure to focus on your foundational movement patterns: #????? #????? #????? #???? #???? #????? And where ever possible, do the above with some form of heavy resistance – a heavy kettlebell, resistance bands, a suitcase, a sack of rice (legit have seen this), your child on your shoulders – get creative! Don’t get me wrong, body weight exercises are great. But your body is built to be better than managing your own body weight. If you’re stuck for ideas, hit me up. ??

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AM: How have you had to pivot Flo Fitness Training to adapt at this time?

RF: I’ve been quite fortunate to have found an alternative training venue in order to continue training my clients. My face-to-face training has relocated to garage gym in a private residence not far from my old location. It’s well ventilated and equipped with enough training gear to facilitate a good workout.

Clients are scheduled in for one-hour private sessions with a minimum 15-minute gap between sessions that allows me to follow strict hygiene practices. I take strong measures to ensure cleaning and disinfecting of any equipment and objects handled by myself or a client.

I realise that this is only a band-aid solution and I’m only another restriction away from being unable to train clients in this manner.

“I’ve been reorienting the way I deliver the services to clients that I’ve worked so hard over the years to build up.”

The silver lining in all of this is that my current business model has exposed a major flaw, namely that it was heavily reliant on being situated in a building that contained training equipment. As such, I’ve been working on reorienting the way I deliver the services to clients that I’ve worked so hard over the years to build up.

AM: Is there anything your clients or the public can do at this time to support your PT business?

RF: Right now and in the best interest of the fitness and health industry in total, the best thing my clients and the general public can do is to keep advocating the importance of physical activity and exercise.

During this crisis, we will experience people moving far less and become more sedentary, and many more will be affected by mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Exercise can help combat this and therefore personal trainers and fitness professionals need to be considered strongly as essential services.

There are thousands of qualified personal trainers that have been heavily affected or completely out of work. Support for PT’s is imperative because when we all come to the end of this dark tunnel, we’re likely going to see a population that will have incurred a rise in obesity and other chronic illness statistics. This is where fitness professionals will be worth their weight in gold, that is if there are any left that survive this pandemic.

AM: Have your experienced financial hit due to the COVID-19 health crisis?

RF: Yes I have. I’m earning less than half the income I was earning before the pandemic hit. And, like other families, I have kids to support, bills and mortgages to pay.

I know there are others that have it worse than me so I’m thankful to still have my health. And as long as I still have my health, I’ll do my best to support those that are in more unfavourable circumstances by doing things like lowering my rates, offering extra sessions, or providing comp sessions to clients with literally zero income.

I’ve also been developing a presentation on what equipment people need to workout at home and will be delivering this in a webinar format free to the general public. Hopefully, people can use this information to better educate themselves better and avoid impulse shopping, which seems to be the done thing these days!

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