Daniel  J. Green by Daniel J. Green

During ACE’s recent webinar entitled “Connecting with Clients during COVID-19,” Kelley Vargo, MS, MPH, ACE Certified Health Coach and adjunct instructor at George Washington University, discussed the need for health coaches and exercise professionals to step up as leaders during these troubling times—and moving forward into an uncertain future.

The truth is, more and more people will be connecting online in the weeks and months to come, even after current stay-at-home orders become less restrictive.

Now is the time for not only evidence-based content, but also for personal connection. Yes, the internet is bursting at the seams with video content. Workouts of all kinds can be found on YouTube and so-called “experts” are on every social media platform offering all kinds of advice. Some health coaches and exercise professionals may be nervous about competing with all of this professional-looking content, but people don’t necessarily care about how polished your content is—what they want most is a connection with the real you and a means of communicating with someone with whom they have already developed rapport and who they know delivers trustworthy content.

Health coaches and exercise professionals should consider collaborating with like-minded professionals, as now is a time to come together, not compete, in an effort to build virtual communities that clients can turn to for social support and a sense of togetherness.

For example, if you are a personal trainer who sometimes networks with registered dietitians or other members of the healthcare community, you can collaborate to build resources that are evidence-based and client-centered. If you begin by developing content and opening the conversation with your current clients, you will likely attract new clients and additional opportunities quickly. You may even consider offering free classes or education sessions and invite others in your network to do the same in order to be of service to your community.

Putting yourself out into the world in a new way takes courage, even for the most experienced professionals, but keep in mind that people want authenticity and content they can trust. Be yourself, have fun and provide content or sessions that build on your reputation and expand your brand.

Finally, be compassionate and relatable. And remind clients that, despite the social isolation, we’re all in this together. You are in a unique position to provide a compassionate connection for individuals who may really be struggling with social isolation, boredom and loneliness. The value of simply being a friendly and supportive presence in people’s lives right now should not be underestimated.

It is important to note that establishing yourself as a leader during these troubling times may pay dividends in terms of expanding your business and client base now and into the future. This is a great time to learn new skills, complete continuing education and expand the services you offer—all of which will leave you better positioned to continue to thrive once the world reaches its new normal.

As a health coach or exercise professional, you likely have transitioned much, if not all, of your in-person coaching or training to a virtual setting. Many newcomers to the online space understandably find it a bit overwhelming and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be, especially because ACE has compiled an ever-growing collection of COVID-19 resources in recent weeks, including a series of blogs about How to Set Up Virtual Coaching, Motivating Clients during Virtual Coaching Sessions, the Benefits of Making Healthy Choices during Social Isolation and Maneuvering a New Reality and a Complex Moment.

Take the time to explore these and other ACE resources and connect with us using the information in the “Connect” section on the COVID-19 resource page should you have any questions or concerns.