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The pandemic taught us many lessons, one of the most important ones for health and exercise professionals should have been, “It’s not about me.” When the gym doors closed, we jumped into action. We spent a tremendous amount of brainpower searching for creative ways to serve our displaced clients and participants. It was all about them … and then some.  

Instead of teaching and training in ways that set our hearts on fire, we got scrappy. Workouts we led took us out of our comfort zones: digital solutions, less-than-stellar sound systems, an inability to see people or interact as we usually do, less feedback, cramped spaces and minimal equipment. We also had to move away from assuming our clients had to be with us to get their workout. We applauded them for getting out for daily walks with the family, trying new activities, hiking, biking or anything else that ticked the movement box. We were so proud! 

Our focus shifted to helping ensure everyone got what they needed—with us, without us, no matter what it took. Now that the world is open for business again, however, it seems we may have a bit of amnesia.

“Where is everyone?” “Oh, no…you’re not going back to the gym are you?” “What? You’re still doing classes at home?”

While these statements may seem innocent enough, they can inadvertently put the exerciser in an awkward position and left to feel as if they did something wrong. While it may be hard to see their behavior changing, and you might sense you’re being left behind, not all is lost! If a client learned how to piece together a plan in a way that worked for them during the last year or so, we should celebrate this and the part we may have played in giving them the confidence to make it happen.

I get it. You’re back and you want your clients back, too. You may be concerned about your numbers. You know your timeslot depends on building a consistent base of attendees. Or you’re concerned that gyms reopening will take away attendance from your digital offerings. Here’s some good news: It is possible to be successful without insisting your clients get everything they need from you. I know you know this but it’s important to understand what the future requires from health and exercise professionals.

Consider this quote from McKinsey and Company’s —Eric Faladreau, John Glynn, and Olga Ostromecka:

“Providers of solutions and services for fitness practices both inside and outside the home will need to reassess their value propositions, articulate their roles in consumers’ fitness routines, and commit to an approach that will win over the right consumers for them.”

In other words, you still need to do your thing. Do it well, do it intentionally and do it the way you want to do it. Clients still need you; however, the role you play may now be a part of what they do versus ALL they do.

People are going back to the gym and they’re still doing virtual. They also might be bouncing around from club to club. Walks, bike rides and hikes may be a more significant part of their plan than ever before. You can become an even more valuable player by supporting their plan. Help to educate and empower clients to create a plan that works for them first and then figure out where you and your services fit in.  

So, how do we do that? 

Begin by adopting an abundance mindset. A scarcity mindset tells you that there will never be enough, resulting in feelings of fear, stress and anxiety. On the other hand, an abundance mindset flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security; it’s remembering that what you offer is valuable and there is an audience for it. It’s grounded in the belief that there is more than enough for everyone. After all, there is no shortage of people who need health and wellness guidance. You believe that, right?

Mark today as the first day of your new job! On the surface, what you’re doing may look the same: teaching, training, coaching. However, it would be best if you also focused on playing the part of the Sherpa. A Sherpa is highly skilled at achieving the goals their clients are aiming for. In other words, they could do it for them, but instead they take the wisdom they have acquired and become a servant who offers knowledge and experience regarding everything from the route, the necessary supplies and more. While the climber is the one who makes it to the top and gets to celebrate, the Sherpa helped make it possible. 

So, stop worrying about losing someone who goes back to the gym or get offended when someone is combining your workouts with those of another instructor’s into a program that makes sense to them. Instead, look for how you can evolve what you are doing to welcome this new reality. It was happening before; now, it’s just more apparent. I like to think this could be the best thing that ever happened to our industry, if we can only figure out how to embrace it instead of be scared of it.

 

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