Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable

With the fitness world in a bit of limbo, we are all challenged to reimagine what group fitness looks like as we begin turning up the lights post-COVID-19. While some clubs remain closed, others are opening. And even those that are opening are doing so in drastically different ways from coast to coast. We must embrace the changes and remain positive during this uncertain time. Here are a few resources you may find useful.

Resource 1: Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson, MD

Who Moved My Cheese is a quick, light-hearted read to help get your thinking on the right track. As you follow the journey, both physically and mentally, of four little mice searching for their cheese, you will undoubtedly identify with one of the characters and learn a few valuable lessons.

First, you will come to understand that thinking too much about your cheese might paralyze you. It is better to just start looking for new cheese even if you’re scared. Stepping out into a “new world” can fill you with doubt and anxiety. Instead of allowing your fear, which will keep you trapped wondering where the cheese went and waiting for it to reappear magically, consider what you might do if you were not afraid.

Next, you will come face to face with the fact that nothing lasts forever. Your best bet is to keep your eyes open for approaching changes. No doubt, COVID-19 closures hit us like a ton of bricks, and there is no way we could have predicted the pandemic, ensuing club closures and long-term changes that have resulted. We could have, however, considered our options for spreading our wings as group fitness instructors before being forced to do so. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut and make assumptions that the club where you teach, the regulars you have, the day, the time and the format will forever be available. Moving forward, we should consistently set goals for growth and anticipate evolution before it’s necessary.

Finally, you’ll be comforted when you realize there’s always new cheese to discover. Once you start moving, it gets better, and you may find the “new” is better than the “old.” Right now, we’ve given up a lot of the old and familiar. Whether you are still teaching online or instructing face-to-face in an environment where face shields and coverings, zero contact and smaller class sizes are the new normal, it’s best to search fervently for the “something better” in the scenario. When you find it, write it down, add to the list, and keep it somewhere to remind yourself daily what you might gain versus what you fear you’re losing.


Resource 2: Your Community

Once our clubs were closed, ongoing interactions with our participants, teams and colleagues fell by the wayside. We turned to our devices and used social media, messaging and phone calls more intentionally as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. While we prioritized connecting with those we once saw in our day-to-day work as group fitness instructors, we expanded our circle and became eager to connect with the broader fitness community from every corner of the world.

One of the bright spots is how managers, instructors, personal trainers and other professionals adjacent to us pulled together. We have faced this crazy time as a team dedicated to getting people moving, no matter what. It has been refreshing to see Facebook conversations, Zoom happy hours, webinars and other virtual hangouts popping up, all dedicated to finding solutions and providing inspiration to a displaced group of health and exercise professionals.

Even when the world slowly emerges and you get back to the community at your club, continue to lean into the network you’ve found online during this time. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there if we take the time to look.

Here are some. ways you can utilize your new teammates every day:

Options and Opportunity

Success leaves clues, says author and coach Tony Robbins. Look to fellow instructors for the possibilities they are testing and the opportunities they are finding. Become part of a trusted group (such as the ACE Group Fit private group on Facebook) and get in on the conversation.

Research and Review

Subscribe to newsletters from reputable organizations in the fitness industry such as ACE (e.g., ACE Insights, CertifiedTM), as well as industry publications (e.g., Club Solutions) and other news sources to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world of fitness. You can also set up services such as Google Alerts to automatically scan the web daily to find relevant resources for you to review.

Tips and Tricks

Become an avid consumer of other instructors’ content. Whether you jump on a Facebook or Instagram live workout, download apps that others recommend and try a class, or participate live (if and when that becomes available), attending as a student is always a great way to up your game and stay motivated to teach others.

Resource 3: Your Gut

It’s quite possible you’ve overlooked the most important resource that is and has always been by your side: YOU.

While you may not feel like you have the right answers now and you may be unsure of which way to go in the short term, one thing you can be sure of is why you do what you do. Hopefully, you’ve taken a bit of time to sit back and reflect on your motivation. Do you teach because you love to move? Or do you teach because you love to get people moving?

I have a feeling if you are researching resources available to help you deal with change, you are deeply determined to get back to empowering people to find joy in moving their bodies. And you are open to trying new ways if that’s what it takes. You are planning to work as hard as you possibly can to get back to it in a way that is authentic and relevant to those you serve. As long as this is your guiding star, you simply can’t go wrong.

If you combine your gut with the other two resources mentioned earlier, there is no doubt you will find your way back to a new and improved normal in no time. Best of luck to you!