Leading from the Front in the Eye of the Storm

Leading from the Front in the Eye of the Storm
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This is Part 5 of a 6-part series titled “Successful Coaching During COVID-19“. Read Part 6 here.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, being a strong leader in fitness becomes increasingly important. In short, you need to be mindful of steering your business forward in an uncertain environment.

Never has there been a more stressful time to build an outstanding business, particularly one that is sustainable despite the pandemic. This is not easy, but there is an opportunity for you to grow as you take on new challenges along the way. At the same time, you must be more proactive in connecting with your clients, even if only virtually. Many successful professionals have already been delivering virtual coaching and training to their clients. Consider the following strategies:

  • Send clients regular supportive, positive e-mails that inquire about how they are doing and that provide practical strategies for maintaining important health and fitness habits.
  • Lead virtual events using any of the online conferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom, Google Meet, and WebEx) and conduct themed events like virtual runs, happy hours, and even group exercise sessions. The possibilities are as personal as your clients. Querying them for ideas on their own wants and needs is a great way to ensure success. Once you’ve determined your clients’ needs, continue to relentlessly add more value to your services through e-mails, videos, and other technology platforms.
  • Take the time to make phone calls to check in with clients and help calm their uncertainty. Being a good listener is sometimes all that is needed.
  • Use Facebook or YouTube to create workouts that can be streamed anytime, anywhere.
  • Never assume that clients will leave if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar presence.
  • Utilize technology to communicate that you still want to work with and support your clients.

Here is a sample e-mail that you could send to your clients:


Hi CLIENT NAME,

I am following up with you to ask you what you would like to see from us in this important and transformational time. Although our business is changing in response to the pandemic, we want you to know that our clients are the most important and valued part of our practice and that your health and welfare are as critical to us as they are to you.

We will continue to share our updates and ideas but would like to hear yours as well. Please respond with your thoughts on how we can best serve you right now as you continue to pursue your health and fitness goals. If you’d rather talk, I would be happy to chat on the phone.

To your health,

YOUR NAME


It is essential that you stand by your word and are completely honest with clients and anyone affiliated with your business. Be sure that you are a calming and positive influence in all your communications. Don’t make the mistake of believing you will lose these clients in the long run, as there ways to modify and enhance your business model that will enable you to continue to serve your current clients and perhaps even attract a few new ones along the way.

In addition, make sure that you keep your bank up to date on your financials and don’t be afraid to ask them for what you need. They may be more flexible than you think in helping with a line of credit or even a loan. Use trusted advisors (possibly outside of your business) to solicit long-term guidance and share ideas you have for the delivery of your services. Make time to sketch  out new delivery systems like online streaming and test them with a portion of your clients to make sure that the system is working before broadening the service to your entire client base.

As importantly, if you are in management, hold regular meetings with your staff. Let them know what you are working on and be compassionate and honest at every juncture.

  • Take time for your own personal health—both mentally and physically. You have hard work to do. Make time for breaks to work on your business, not just in your business.
  • Communicate with other pros to share ideas and new ways of operating.
  • Celebrate client birthdays, anniversaries and other events to let your clients know you care for them beyond simply leading exercise programs.
  • There are many issues you are dealing with in this new environment. Concentrate on making simple changes vs. restructuring your entire practice.
  • Don’t slash your prices. Instead, add more value (e.g., weekly communication, virtual or streaming workout videos, and coaching and educational content that clients can view at their leisure). Think about ways you can get together to have conversations in the virtual environment with groups of clients.

When planning, start with 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans, as you ultimately do not know to what degree or for how long your practice will be affected during the pandemic. Try to be fluid in dealing with changes you cannot control.

Innovate, innovate, innovate! Keep your practices up to date, including new training methods, and make sure that you continue to keep thorough and accurate progress records for each client. Be curious about what other professionals are doing and adopt any relevant ideas.

No one knows when or how this pandemic environment will change, or by how much. Listen to your clients and make changes accordingly. By keeping a calm and confident demeanor, you offer yourself the best chance to see your business rebound and end up with even more services to offer. None of us can know when the finish line will appear, so you must always be ready for it. Most importantly, keep leading from the front rather than merely reacting to the ever-changing environment. Doing so will give you a chance to discover the myriad of successful pathways that this challenge presents for you and your business.

Read Part 6: Understanding your Client’s Core Motivations

Read Part 4: Stress Management for Health and Exercise Professionals During Difficult Times



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