Teaching Fitness Through a Pandemic

I will never forget that day. It was March 16, 2020. I had been renting a large church space for my fitness, barre and yoga classes. Class was to start at 6 pm. It was 4:45 pm and I rushed home from my day job as a clinic owner to pack the car with fitness equipment, yoga mats and speakers.

I teach fitness to large in-person groups, and it’s a passion I’ve had for over 35 years. It’s a part of me. Just like breathing - I’ve always taught fitness. Until March 16, that is. My phone dinged, and I checked my email as I headed out the door. With no notice, my space was closing due to Covid-19 and I no longer had access to it. There were some stories on the news about what we should do, but nothing concrete. Then my son came home from school - it was cancelled too! How can this be? What do we do? Remembering that one of my fitness students taught at the university, I reached out. I knew he taught online. What was that program he used? Maybe we can use that for a couple of weeks until we get back to normal. I had no idea my teaching life was changed forever. 

Just like thousands of similar instructors, I figured it out before 6 pm. Yes, we still had class. I couldn’t let everyone down. I wasn’t sick. I didn’t have the flu. I could teach. So I taught on my iPad Mini on Zoom with one hours’ notice. Everyone was set up and away we went. It was fantastic! We all got a workout in. My participants were so patient and grateful that I would make the effort for them. Of course, we all had no idea what buttons to press and we all learned together. That was the day I taught online for the first time and I’m still teaching online. 

Months passed as I refined my technique, slowly learning and purchasing what I needed to make a virtual studio. I even moved my clinic to accommodate small in-person groups and virtual classes. I would think to myself: Is this what I’m doing now? I never thought to quit. I just kept figuring it out: camera angles, wardrobe, lighting, insurance, music, computers, camera, microphone research and more. Some things I learned the hard way – for example Happy Baby pose seems like a good idea on Zoom, but it is definitely not! Making sure to press record is integral for a prerecorded workout. That sort of thing. There were a lot of these lessons for a one woman show, but I did it. 

Six months later, I returned my church keys. Things were not going back to normal anytime soon. I was used to it now. Constantly changing, dodging obstacles, and overcoming learning curves was the new normal. Online teaching started to become my jam. Am I good at this now? Wow, what a trip!


Look, I’m not special. I have no extraordinary technical skills. In fact, quite the opposite. You know what though? The same skills I use to teach a new fitness format, I used for this. These skills also came in handy snagging two University degrees. I thank fitness for it all.  If I can make it all the way through high impact aerobics to step, kickbox fitness, barre, yoga, bootcamp, to the weight room and back again, I can do this and so can you. I’m the same as all my fitness professional colleagues. We just figure it out as we go. We are resilient. We are brave, and we don’t quit. Fitness has laid the foundation for us. We already have the mindset to pursue anything we want. We just have to do it.

I look around the industry and am astonished at the way everyone has reinvented themselves. It is simply inspirational. I observed so many fitness leaders pivot, grow, change and learn things they never imagined. The world is different now, and I know it was tough, but look at how we remade ourselves. We are remodeled, retooled and reinvented. Congratulations fitness professionals. I’m proud to walk beside you. Give yourself a pat on the back. We all certainly deserve it. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Love, light, and all things fitness, 

Laurie Idema-Wood,
Owner, Body Connections Fitness & Massage Therapy, Master Trainer for Fitness Marketing Group