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How a UK Fitness Trainer Bounced Back After COVID Gym Closures

Sep 23, 2020

Taking on COVID-19 after it put me on the back foot

by Personal Trainer Stuart Holt, based in Reading, UK

NOTE: British "to be on the back foot" means to be put in a defensive position, to be in retreat.  An equivalent American phrase is to be knocked off balance or to be on the ropes.

At the beginning of 2020 my client diary was full, I had a waiting list, and classes were sold out up to June. I was well on my way to building a loyal community and had planned on hiring additional trainers.

Then COVID hit!

A 2020 goal for me was to travel from the UK to attend the Los Angeles for the advanced Level 3 Box 'N Burn Certification training. Level 3 teaches advanced punches, defense, footwork, mittwork, jump rope exercises, and more. I was looking forward to the Level 3 helping me deliver even more value to my boxing fitness workout clients. While in LA, I was going to catch up with the many people who have helped with my personal motivation and business development. Unfortunately I was unable to attend as Trump had banned people from UK entering the USA, but once everything is back to normal, I intend on attending the  next L3 in USA.

I know COVID had devastating effects for some people with the loss of loved ones,  jobs and businesses. In the UK we were allowed only an hour of outside exercise for our own personal fitness so the fitness industry was on hold during ‘lockdown’. 

Without a doubt COVID has affected everyone worldwide and sent us a reminder that things needed to change. The waves of this pandemic have put people to the test, to reevaluate their roles, to look at how we do things and to shift their perspective. 

Personally, the gym I worked at closed and everything I had planned was put on hold, I was unable to work with clients and I was not eligible for any government support so I faced no income for months, this caused me physical and mental fatigue and I had some hard, dark spells.

I'd put in a lot of planning and hard work getting my business into a strong position and knew that it would not be lost forever and would bounce back - I  just did not know when.

Bad days were brightened by chats with coaches that were really helpful and positive, many of whom, I'd met traveling around the world and they too, were in similar or worse circumstance than me.  A client also arranged for me to receive a timely and positive personal video message from Olympic boxer, Tony Jeffries.

I realised how valuable and strong my client community had grown and the support of everyone I trained or worked with was something quite special.  

As lockdown continued I took this time as an opportunity to focus on my future in the fitness industry. When I learned that the gym that I was based at would not re-open, I decided to try to completely flip my development for the better. I knew I didn’t want to return to a commercial gym and questioned where I would fit into the changing industry. 

I made sure to stick to my routine and still get up at 5am, it was important not only to train hard but to make sure each day moved me forward.  I wrote countless workouts for people and helped with mentoring.

I also looked into the option of leasing my own studio and also into finding another gym. I decided the best fit was for me to be around around like-minded people at an established, specialist, and more unique gym. I've settled in at the new gym and my clients are enjoying the new way of working, everyone is ready to go and really upped their game since being back, I knew if I gave 100% to everyone they would all strive to match that. 

I’m back to being fully booked with lots of new opportunities and openings. Having support, remaining positive, keeping a strong work and business ethic got me through the tough times. I believe I’m in a better place now after being massively tested. 

I am now in my  ‘new normal’  after some side stepping and pivoting.  I’m back on the front foot and excited for my future.

I don't question how things might have turned out for me if we had not experienced COVID, instead my journey continues...


Stuart Holt is a personal trainer based in Reading, England, UK.  He is a Level 1, Level 2  Certified Box 'N Burn trainer.  He hopes to complete his Level 3 as soon as the US opens borders to UK citizens and Box N Burn Santa Monica gym is allowed to open again. Stuart currently works at BKBXING

Checkout his Instagram: sh_bodykinetics  and Facebook: bodykinetics84

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in this... HOW I RETAINED & GAINED CLIENTS DURING GYM LOCKDOWN - 5 SIMPLE STEPS!  written by Personal Trainer Kieran Flanigan based in Liverpool, UK.

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