If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.
I'm talking to wellness professionals to learn how COVID-19 has impacted their lives, as well as how they're adjusting how they teach to make quarantine a little healthier for all of us. Today, I chatted with Morgan Wooten, a Flywheel Sports instructor in Raleigh, North Carolina.
What do you teach?
I teach indoor cycling, barre, and strength circuit classes at Flywheel Sports. I have been teaching with Flywheel for six years and was named a "master instructor" in November 2017. I also taught and took classes during my entire pregnancy journey and love working with women who are pre and post-natal.
Why did you start teaching?
Fitness has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, my mom worked full time and taught exercise classes on the side. I vividly remember putting on her headset at the end of her step aerobics class and talking to her clients, it was something I looked forward to each week. I have always loved being in front of people and bringing individuals together over shared interests.
I was a college cheerleader and after a career-ending knee injury, found myself in on a long road to recovery. I had surgery to repair my MCL and ACL and to remove most of my meniscus. Once I was cleared to exercise again, I was limited to non-impact activities and found my way to barre and indoor cycling. I was so excited when I started to make progress rebuilding the muscle I had lost and wanted to be able to help others find a fitness routine that fit their individual needs. Once I graduated, with degrees in exercise and sport science and journalism, I began my search for teaching opportunities as a side gig.
What do you love most about teaching?
I love the community — teaching classes has been my social hour every day for the past six years. The ability to connect with people during the time they set aside for themselves, time that is sacred to them, is so rewarding. I am so inspired by each client who walks through the door, each with their own challenges and aspirations. I like to be a sounding board, a troubleshooter, and a motivator. Every client works out for a unique reason, whether it is to achieve a fitness goal or simply to relieve stress, each reason is valid and should be celebrated. I work full-time in the pharmaceutical industry and have a family at home to care for (husband and a 2-year-old daughter). My workout and teaching routine helps me maintain my sense of self and makes me a better wife, mom, and employee.
What is the current state of your studio?
All of our studios across the country have been closed since March 17 but look to reopen when we are able and it is safe to do so.
What virtual classes are you offering? How can people find those classes?
I am offering free virtual classes via Zoom every weekday — covering indoor cycling (with the ability to walk or run to the instructed playlists), barre-style (light-weight, high-rep), and strength plus cardio circuit classes. They are available to anyone, anywhere and the schedule and class links can be found on my website. I also record the classes and post them to the website for people to take at a time more convenient for their schedule.
What is your biggest takeaway regarding COVID-19?
We are all juggling a lot right now and maintaining some sense of normalcy will help us continue to push through the challenging times. I think we should all give ourselves a little grace during this time — variables are confounded, challenges are more pronounced and we will never feel like there are enough hours in the day. We've had our social circles stripped away from us and access to our personal outlets has been limited. We are homeschooling, pre-schooling, working from home, cleaning, cooking, and doing bicep curls with laundry detergent. This is not something you can plan for, only something you can adapt to. Let's all pat ourselves on the back for doing the best we can, with what we can, when we can.
What long-term effects do you see COVID-19 having on the wellness industry?
I think people are reconnecting with the simplicity of movement and the acceptance that you do not have to have fancy equipment or a ton of space to be able to move. However, I also think it is highlighting the void that the wellness industry fills in each of our lives. Once studios are able to reopen, I think everyone will have a rejuvenated appreciation for the social connection that comes with exercising. The girl on the mat beside you who shared an eye-roll with you when your instructor told you 30 more seconds, that's a touch-point you're missing currently. The guy on the bike two rows behind you who let out a "woo" at the beat drop of a big push, he's that extra motivator you didn't know you needed but you had in the shared space.
I think people will arrive to class earlier and linger around longer, just to be around others.
What is one thing you want the world to know about the wellness industry, especially in light of COVID-19?
I think everyone can appreciate that this pandemic has tentacles that have reached every person, every industry, and every facet of life. Higher-touch industries that are built on personal connection and proximity are suffering. The very thing that makes the boutique fitness industry thrive, is what makes it more susceptible to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. Instructors, managers, facilities staff, every person who counted on income from the wellness industry is facing unprecedented challenges — but I have seen my peers pivot to make ends meet and make their clients still feel connected.
I want everyone to remember that wellness professionals are still there for them and when this time has passed, we will be a stronger community. Reach out to your instructors, check-in on the other members you were cordial with, and above all, show your love and support to your gyms and studios while they are closed and as they reopen. The wellness industry can't wait to SEE YOU in real life again.
If you are a wellness professional interested in sharing your story, please email email@example.com.
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