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How to work out at home during physical distancing

'Staying active is important, especially now,' says Personal Edge Training owners Roberta and Phil Snider
Working out during pandemic
Screenshot provided by Susan Cook-Scheerer

When Roberta and Phil Snider, owners of Personal Edge Training in Kitchener, heard the Ontario government would be imposing mandatory closures of all non-essential workplaces, they were adamant about finding a way to continue to help their clients and the general public be able to work out during COVID-19.

"We want to help people understand the importance of staying active especially now, because exercise is proven to help boost our immune systems," explains Roberta. "It’s something we all should be doing at this point. We thought we can't just disappear: we wanted to continue to offer our services, so we decided to go immediately into on-line training."

The Snider’s began reaching out to their clients to offer live, virtual personal training sessions through Skype, Google Duo and Facetime. So far, reactions to these virtual sessions have been positive. "We can see everything our clients are doing, we can demonstrate exercises for them, and they can ask questions. And we can develop a program for them using whatever equipment they have in their home to give them a really good workout." It’s a different way of providing services for Personal Edge Training, and these virtual sessions are making their clients think differently too. "Some of our clients have realized that virtual training means they could continue their workouts when they're on business trips, or even when they are at their cottages in the summer," Roberta explains. "For a lot of people, working with a personal trainer is as much an accountability check as it is a workout."

What about the person who wants to work out at home, but doesn't own their own gym equipment? No problem, say the Sniders; everything you need is already in your house.

"We are part of an initiative called The Healthy Habits Project," says Roberta. "There’s lots of free information on the project’s Facebook page, from nutritional suggestions to exercise ideas. Phil and I did a Facebook Live session for the project this past weekend, and showed how to take household items and use them in your workouts."

Some of their suggestions in the video include using paint cans in place of kettlebells, nylons in place of resistance bands - even backpacks can be utilized in a workout. "Load the backpack with whatever you have lying around," says Roberta. "In the video we put a patio stone about the size of a bowling ball in a backpack, and then Phil strapped it on his back and did side lunges and squats with it. Then he spun it around and wore it on the front, which turns your core muscles on in a totally different way, and he did the same exercises. It’s like using a weight vest." In the video they also suggest ways to get in some cardio, like setting a laundry basket on a towel, loading it with heavier items or even your kids, and then pushing the basket down a hallway. The 15 minute video is posted on The Healthy Habits Project facebook page, along with other ideas on how people can get active.

While physical activity is an important factor to staying healthy, the Snider’s stress that anyone who is just beginning to work out should seek help before they get started. "There are a lot of resources on-line, but many of them will be too complex for beginners," Roberta says. "Just because it’s available on-line and it’s free doesn't mean it’s right for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. It’s better to look for a personal trainer who will take your limitations into account and will design a program that’s right for you." And while some people may be concerned about the cost of personal training sessions, Roberta stresses they can work with clients to design programs that are more cost effective but still provide a great workout.

While virtual training is providing a way to continue working with their clients during the pandemic, the Sniders don't think it will totally replace working in their studio with a personal trainer when things return to the new normal. “Some people will always learn better and benefit more from in person training,” says Roberta. "However, I think virtual training is going to help to bring a whole new awareness to personal training, and it’s another avenue for us to connect with our clients."

Personal Edge Training
The Healthy Habits Project

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