Getting back to work - thoughts and feelings
This post will hopefully be one of the final posts I have to write on the C word. It is the beginning of June 2020 and we are just starting to come out of the main throws of the Coronavirus pandemic here in the UK. Boris Johnson announced that from June 1st we would be able to meet groups of up to 5 other people outside, providing that social distancing measures were still adhered to. For many self-employed fitness professionals, this was the news we had been waiting for. Small group training would now be able to take place outside and outdoor PT sessions could start again. Finally, the people in the industry had some way of earning an income once more.
Later in the week I was contacted by a club that I freelance for to go and start teaching some socially distanced group fitness classes for them. They are incredibly lucky that they have tennis courts, a pool area and outdoor decking space that they could utilise for outdoor classes. Obviously this threw up a whole range of emotions for me – elation that I would be able to teach again and that some of the financial stress I have been under the last few months was lifting but also huge anxiety about teaching classes in this new world. In this post I’ll be getting very honest about some of those emotions about going back to group fitness, which may hopefully be able to help people who are a few weeks or months away from working again.
I have missed teaching group fitness classes like CRAZY over the last 12 weeks. Teaching is my passion and what gets me out of bed in the mornings and to not have that in my life for a few months was really tough. My first initial emotion to going back to work was total joy. Finally, life would be returning back to some semblance of normal. I would get to do what I love again and help people make a positive change to their lives, and lord knows they’re going to need that after 3 months away from the gym! I, like many other fitness pros, have also been put under huge amounts of financial strain over the last few months. These new classes have given me more financial stability and mean I don’t have to worry about not being able to pay my bills this month. As soon as I got off the phone with this club my whole body just relaxed. All the stress of the last 12 weeks was subsiding, and it was comforting to know I had some breathing room. I think this will be a feeling that most fit pros get when the gyms start to slowly reopen. Our industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and I think a lot of fit pros have felt forgotten about by the government. Many of us fell through the cracks in the government help schemes and knowing that a return to work may not be too far away will be comforting for many.
My second emotion was anxiety and doubt. I haven’t taught a class since the end of March and my brain started to fill with limiting beliefs about my ability to just slip back into it. Will I have forgotten what to do? My own fitness has dropped, so will I be able to manage 9 classes a week? How will the members respond? Will anyone show up? Getting back to work in this new way is taking a big step outside my comfort zone and what I know and am used to. This will test my ability to adapt and think on my feet, something that I think all of us will be doing over the next few months.
I was also filled with anxiety about how to create an atmosphere and that group fitness buzz with this new setup. Although I am not a particularly touchy-feely instructor, I do like to give high 5s and correct people’s technique by getting quite close to them as I feel it’s more personal than shouting it across a room. Everyone has responded differently to this pandemic, with some people carrying on as normal and not really caring about social distancing, with others not allowing you within 5 meters of them, let alone 2. I am really conscious of making everyone feel comfortable and confident about returning to group fitness. I think this will need to be a priority for instructors over the next few months. As much as we all love a good high 5 or hug post class, we need to acknowledge safety above everything else. The members will be overjoyed more than anything to simply be back in a class so I think they will forgive if certain things aren’t “like normal”, whatever normal is anymore!
The thing that I, and I’m sure many others, have struggled with during this time is uncertainty. This really hit me again this week with a glimpse into a return to work. None of us really know when the industry will be allowed to properly get up and running again. None of us know what gyms will have to look like when they are finally allowed to reopen. Nobody knows in what capacity group fitness classes will be allowed to operate. I like to be in control of what happens in my life. I want to be responsible for my own success and also my own struggle – if something bad happens to me or something goes wrong I’d rather it was my fault that it happened so I can learn from it rather than someone else making the decision. The pandemic took the control of my own financial and career security out of my hands and into the hands of a couple of people in Downing Street. They are the ones making the decision on when I can earn an income again from work that I love. They are the ones with the power to decide whether my industry is important enough to re-open quickly, or whether it will be forgotten about. And that scares me. A lot. Although the opportunity to teach a few classes outdoors gives us back some of the control, we are all still in a state of limbo. We don’t know whether these classes will be running for a few weeks or a few months! We are all waiting with bated breath for the government’s next announcement on June 25th.
I think that the one thing we can all take away from this time is to take each day as it comes. There is now light at the end of the tunnel with all of this and hopefully we will all be able to get back to work soon. It is normal to feel all these different emotions and be able to process them – whether that is talking them through with family or friends or putting them in a blog post on your website!
If you want to chat about your thoughts and feelings of getting back to work then reach out to me on social media: @gftcourses on Facebook and Instagram. Also make sure you subscribe to the GFT YouTube channel as I will be posting more content about my return to work on there.