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Continuing Adjustments in Training for COVID-19

Posted by Steve Boring on January 29, 2021

I’m not sure any of us were initially prepared for the onslaught 2020 threw our way. It seemed like every week there was some sort of news to make us worry and stress about the future. Living through a pandemic is not something I ever thought I would do, but every one of us made the adjustments necessary to make life work for us…and believe me there were many adjustments made!

As you’ve no doubt noticed, the RAC has been constantly pivoting to align with the latest safety guidelines and supported research. While it has been necessary for the business, it has not been easy. With the overwhelming evidence highlighting the benefits that come from regular exercise, it is our job to ensure we stay open so our members have a place to strengthen their bodies, immune systems as well as their minds. Exercise is very important, and even that may be an understatement.

Many of our members utilize some form of training services; personal training, nutrition services, group classes, health coaching and weight management services are just a few. But what do those services look like right now? Is access different or have the services changed to accommodate the mandates and regulations handed down during this pandemic? Here are a few real-life examples of the adjustments we have made to ensure you are in a safe environment when working with your trainer or coach.

Personal Training

RAC Personal Trainer, Josh Lewis has adjusted his personal training sessions during the current Minnesota mandated restrictions:

“When working with my clients during these crazy COVID times I have had to make a few adaptations to the in-person workouts in order to make it as safe and effective as possible. One item we have been working around is the current nine-foot spacing requirement between everyone in the gym while exercising. We first must find an area or piece of equipment that allows my client and I to maintain proper distancing from other members. The nine-foot rule also prevents any spotting or getting close to a client to correct form, while they are in the middle of an exercise.

 

To deal with this, I make sure that my client is clear on what exercise they are performing and that I have shown them the proper way to execute the exercise. If the client’s form breaks down mid exercise, I inform them to stop mid set so that I may make the necessary corrections. If the form correction is a very minor tweak or recommendation then I may wait until the client is done with the set, when we may now be at six feet of distance given the cessation of exercise performance.

 

The next obstacle is that wearing a mask during exercise significantly increases the intensity of an exercise by making it harder to breathe. The mask combined with many people being deconditioned from not being able to exercise during the shutdowns has caused many people to struggle when first starting back up. To best deal with this dilemma, I have lowered one or more of the following: the weight being used, the number of repetitions being performed, or time spent executing an exercise. I have also allowed clients to increase their rest as needed in between sets and exercises.

 

While these small adjustments have felt a little odd at first, it has been well worth it for my clients to get back into the gym. There the variety of workout equipment and lack of distractions, compared to at home, has allowed them to get back to working towards their health and fitness goals.

 

If you are still feeling uncomfortable about coming into the gym, another option that some of my clients have preferred to switch to has been a virtual one. This could be done my using FaceTime, Zoom or with the RAC app to send workouts. By training virtually, this allows my clients to feel comfortable working out in their own home and they still receive the accountability and quality workouts that they would if we were in the gym, meeting face to face.”

 

Virtual training has exploded worldwide during the pandemic. In turn, the RAC has also noticed sizable growth in this area. Many members are working with trainers virtually, or are using the RAC App Pro feature to access streaming classes. Virtual sessions have also allowed the RAC personal training team to reach many more nutritional services clients than prior to the shut downs. The demand for nutrition coaching has risen very quickly as weight gain due to limited fitness opportunities during the pandemic.

Nutrition Services

Here is how RAC Registered Dietitian Chelsey Hegge has modified during COVID:

“While 2020 had brought a lot of changes, it has also encouraged the fitness industry to adapt and evolve. As a Registered Dietitian, I was forced to think outside the box with how to connect with clients throughout shutdowns as well as when the RAC was able to re-open. This was a positive change and now has allowed for more options in not only how I work and connect with clients, but also how I can get in touch with members of the community and non-members of the RAC.

 

In working with nutrition clients, I am able to meet in person at the RAC as we are wearing masks and maintaining a six-foot distance in my office. The new addition to our nutrition services is being able to also meet virtually with clients via Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc. Virtual appointments are a great option for those who might be working from home, who have kids at home if school is not in-person yet, or who just have busy lives and would benefit from eliminating the driving time to meet in person.


The RAC’s Registered Dietitians have successfully worked with many clients via virtual appointments and have helped them reach their health and wellness goals, all from the comfort of the client’s home or workspace. The client is able to choose whether appointments are in-person or virtual and from there we would schedule their initial consult to go over the program that best fits their needs. The following sessions would entail discussing the client’s food journal (often MyFitnessPal), focusing on small and sustainable habit changes overtime, as well as clients receiving new recipes on a weekly basis. The RAC’s Registered Dietitians are available to provide accountability and support to help clients reach their goals.”

 

Finally, classes or small group training have always been a large part of the RAC’s offerings to members. This was, perhaps, one of the most challenging adjustments we’ve had to make given spacing requirements.

Small Group Training

RAC Personal Trainer and Small Group Instructor Sidney Elofson has found that with the RAC’s ample square footage, simple adjustments were fairly easy to make:

“Small Group Training at the Rochester Athletic Club has been going smoothly since reopening. There have been a few added restrictions from the Governor and the RAC, as always, has been focusing on trying to keep members comfortable and safe during these challenging times. The new statewide restrictions for small group training include; members are required to wear a mask while exercising, 9 feet social distance between group members, and 9 feet between trainer and group members.

 

Although these seem to be restrictive there are still ways to get all the amazing benefits small group training offers. Social interaction, accountability, and motivation while improving your physical and mental health are just some of the benefits of working out in a group. Purely speaking for myself, I could definitely use all three of those right now!

 

The RAC has so much open space and separate rooms, it makes social distancing and moving between exercises easy. Keeping 9 feet between group members has not been a problem. To be honest, it has been a good mandatory buffer between the two fighting sister athletes or “no personal space” group members (you know who you are ha-ha!).

 

In all seriousness, getting athletes or group members to maintain a safe distance while performing explosive or balance lifts is usually one of the challenges with group training, but the 9-foot distancing requirement has made this stress free! Masks affect some group members more than others. Usually for every jump or fast pace movement the trainer will provide a modification that is less taxing with the mask, similar to providing modifications for group members with injuries. The body will adapt to training with the mask on just as it adapts to any new element of training.

 

No matter what restrictions are leaving or coming it is all about how you choose to look at it. Exercise of any kind is better for the body than none at all. Attacking this new challenge with friends that keep you motivated has been a light in a tough time for many members. I hope you choose to see it that way too!”

 

Hopefully, this information has helped put your mind at ease not only in what the RAC staff are doing to keep you safe, but also to encourage you to return to or seek out our available services. We are professionals, and our job has always been to help keep you safe, healthy, and strong! If you are interested in more information or would like to connect with any of the staff in this article, please click on the contact links below.

Yours in health!

Steve Boring, Fitness Director
Josh Lewis, Personal Trainer
Chelsey Hegge, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer
Sidney Elofson, Personal Trainer and Small Group Instructor

Steve Boring

Steve Boring

Fitness Director Steve Boring MS, BS, ISSA-CPT Certified Personal Trainer has degrees in Exercise Science and Speech Communication and is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Performance. He is a competitive Strongman and Powerlifter. He has multiple State Championships, two AAPF National Bench Press National Championships, and is the current AWPC World Bench Press Champion. Steve’s passions are centered on fitness and his love of helping people reach their goals. His door is always open to talk about fitness, health, and lifelong strength!

Contact Steve Boring at (507) 287-9312.

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