Daniel  J. Green by Daniel J. Green

COVID-19 has sequestered most of us in our homes for the foreseeable future, which means that virtual coaching and training are in high demand. Once you have set yourself up to offer virtual sessions, communicated with your current clients and established a pricing structureit’s time to get started with the actual workouts. 

But first, you have to make sure each client has a safe and appropriate area in which to exercise. This space should measure at least 8 feet by 8 feet, or 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters, and be free of any tripping hazards. You should also ask that the area be as quiet as possible so that you and your client can hear one another throughout the session. You may have to be a bit more flexible than usual in that regard, as many of your clients may have children and pets underfoot. 

One of the key questions to ask your clients when making the transition from in-person training to virtual sessions is what type of equipment they have at home, if any. Some may have in-home gyms, complete with a weight bench, dumbbells, resistance bands and a stability ball, while others will have no equipment at all.  

Because your first virtual training clients will be people you have trained in person until recently, your goal may be to continue their previous programs as much as possible, while modifying them to the in-home setting. Think about how each of the exercises in a client’s program can be effectively replaced using the equipment at his or her disposal. If a client has a stability ball and some resistance bands, for example, you can create a full-body program using those tools. 

Body-weight training can also become a feature of your clients’ training regimens. Don’t be afraid to go back to the basics with push-ups, squats, lunges and dips.  

In a recent ACE Live Panel seminar entitled “Take Your Coaching & Training Business Online,” Anna Woods, one of the three virtual coaching/training experts who led the discussion, commented that the creativity of the exercise professional is the only limiting factor when it comes to virtual sessions. If clients don’t have equipment in their homes, you can have them lift things like milk cartons, laundry detergent or sacks of rice or potatoes. Do a little research beforehand to find out the approximate weight of some of these items so you can ensure the resistance is appropriate for each client. 

Finally, don’t forget about cardiorespiratory exercise. If a client has a cardio machine at home, encourage him or her to get daily exercise to break up the monotony of being house-bound all day. Even better, remind clients that they can and should get outside for walks around the neighborhood or drive to locations where they can walk with fewer people around; check out ACE’s Walking Toolkits for more information and inspiration to share and get started. They can still perform outdoor exercise while obeying the directives on social distancing. 

You may find that clients who you know well have different goals during these trying times. People who once had performance-related goals may now be more interested in stress relief and mindfulness. Others may be thinking more about maintaining their fitness levels and keeping their immune systems strong through an enhanced focus on overall wellness. Be creative. Be flexible. And be mindful of your clients’ needs, as they will undoubtedly shift in the weeks and months to come. 

A Word about Green Exercise 

The term green exercise refers to any physical activity performed in natural environments, including anything from a walk around the neighborhood to a long day of rock climbing or kayaking. The important thing in terms of working with your clients during this pandemic is that there are proven benefits to moving some of their workouts outside, beyond those associated with the exercise itself (e.g., an outdoor walk yields benefits beyond those seen with walking that same distance and speed indoors on a treadmill). For example, green exercise improves cognitive function, enhances cardiac function and reduces stress hormone levels (Calogiuri et al., 2015; Grazuleviciene et al., 2015; Barton & Pretty, 2010).  Of course, you want to be sure your clients don’t deviate from public-health guidance about social distancing at this time. 

Reducing stress and breaking the monotony of being indoors for days on end can be extremely impactful on the physical, emotional and psychological health of your clients. 



Barton, J. & Pretty, J. (2010). What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 44, 3947–3955.’ 

Calogiuri, G. et al. (2015). Green exercise as a workplace intervention to reduce job stress: Results from a pilot study. Work, 53, 99–111. 

Grazuleviciene, R. et al. (2015). The effect of park and urban environments on coronary artery disease patients: A randomized trial. BioMed Research International, 2015, 403012. 


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