Lessons Learned from a Quarantined Fitness Professional

Written by: Matthew Bronico, CFW Health Fitness Program Manager

Blank working desk in home office with equipment such as laptop/notebook computer, clock, cactus tree and a cup of coffee. Work hours & lifestyle business concept

As a fitness professional, it is very odd that I get the chance to work at home. In fact, when I tell family members and friends that I am indeed doing just that, the response I usually hear is, “How is that possible”? It’s uncharted territory, as I figure it may be for many others. In the process, I've learned some things about myself and the challenges that come with working from home. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and discoveries, figuring it may help others overcome similar challenges as we navigate this new and unusual normal.


Lesson #1 - Dress like you are going to work

I’ve read the articles and quotes saying it is important to dress like you are still going to the job. I did not buy into it. Day one, I got up, turned on the computer, made a quick cup of coffee (more on that later), sat down, and stared at the screen. And stared at the screen. And stared at the screen. My mind just couldn’t get going. I looked down, looked at my dresser and put two-and-two together. I realized that by being in my work uniform was like a switch for my brain. Not that I couldn’t work without my typical work-day attire, but wearing those items put me in the mindset that there is work to do and I can do it. Please excuse my nerdiness for a moment: It was like a lightsaber crystal focusing my mind and energy. My advice: Get dressed, even if it is just throwing on a polo and (in my case) black shorts.


Lesson #2 - Where you work is important...for many reasons

Going into a work form home scenario, I knew I could get easily distracted, especially with TV and video gaming. My loving fiance and I spent most of the weekend rearranging our bed room to allow me a space where I can still see out of my window (which I don’t have in the fitness center), but not the television. Why didn’t I just use another room in the house you may ask?

Well…I live with my mother, who roams around the first floor, loudly on the phone with her sisters most of the day. And it is her house; I’m just renting the attic for a bit. This also led to a blessing in disguise, sort of. I was away from the kitchen. I couldn’t just pig out from anything in the fridge. Great! Right? No! My sweet, loving fiance keeps a bookcase full of treats right where I just moved the computer. After day one, and eating a very unhealthy amount of peanut butter M&Ms, I decided to move all the snacks to a spot out of sight. Out of sight (and arm reach), out of mind.


Lesson #3 - Get up and move often, even if you have to set an alarm

I’m a fitness professional. I have no problem standing up and moving regularly. At least you would think that. People forget, I am human too. And sometimes, I just get wrapped up in writing programs or articles. While I am in my fitness center, I have little reminders to, you know, get off my butt. Members come in, I get out on the floor and greet them. I may answer a few questions. Most likely just chew the fat a bit. When the rush is over, I’m walking around putting weights away and wiping off machines. Here at home, I have none of that. I could probably sit at my computer all 8 hours and maybe never get up...if it wasn’t for the coffee and restroom. I’ve resorted to setting my alarm every 50 minutes to make sure I get up, stretch a bit, walk down the steps to check on mom, maybe bang out some push ups. Don’t be afraid to do the same.


Lesson #4 - I miss my co-workers and members

I’m a self-admitted introvert. I dislike crowds. I’m a bit shy, and I’m awkward. Even with all of that, I find that I really dislike being confined to a computer. I am honestly impressed how many of you do it. While I do have conference calls, emails, and the occasional text from my co-workers, I’d do anything to be back in the center, hands-on demonstrating correct form of an exercise or teaching a class. I really realized how much my members mean to me when I started talking, brainstorming, and yelling exercises to my cat. She tolerates me.

Lesson #5 - If not technology, where would we be?

I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when technology was changing. I remember 8-track tape players, teachers using blackboards, chalk, and an overhead projector. I also remember changing the TV to channel 3 to watch VCR tape or to play Nintendo. I saw the rise of the PC and the internet. I had an AIM profile, a Xanga, and MySpace. I can still hear my mom yelling “get off the internet, I need to use the phone!”

It amazes me how much technology has changed. When I first started at my CFW site, the Iphone 3G had just come out. A majority of people still had flip phones and carried the original Ipod around. Now look at today. Not only can I keep in contact with members via email, but I can do it from a phone. I can video conference with other fitness professionals and get ideas how to best reach my client population. I can post articles like this and reach hundreds if not thousands of people. While this situation isn’t ideal and is very serious, perhaps we can all take a moment to relax, take a deep breath, and appreciate what we have.