My Experience Starting a Business During COVID

Leaving my dream Job

It’s been a wild however many months it’s been now. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was furloughed from my dream job as a personal trainer. It was the first and only job I have ever been excited to go to. Staying late never felt like a chore, and showing up early was how I preferred my day. I enjoyed and respected my co-workers, and my clients were the best any trainer could ever hope to have. When we were shut down, I ended up having to make a judgement call on the sustainability of living in California during a pandemic. Rents are high, there was no stimulus talk yet, and both my spouse and I had lost our jobs indefinitely. With the situation looking increasingly grim, my spouse and I made the decision to do something I had never done before – move out of California… to Arizona.

What now?

After arriving in Arizona and getting settled, I was completely at a loss for what to do next. Gyms were closed and people were nervous about interacting with others in close proximity (me included). I had an idea! I was going to build an app and utilize the training methods I had already rigorously engrained in an excel master file.

I began to learn to code in Python and was able to build some simple scripts that crunched numbers and maybe a DnD style text game. However, I learned very quickly that launching an app was not a matter of weeks, but likely a matter of months or even years if I went the route of solo-development. I continued working on Python with the idea that I could potentially secure a job in the tech world. The issue there is that there was no guarantee that it would happen sooner rather than later. Additionally, there was no guarantee that I would like it. Truthfully, my only influences about tech come from two places: a friend who works as a software developer and says the job is unimaginably boring but pays extremely well, and “The WoW Diary” by John Staats that describes an immensely stressful yet fun and underpaid version of tech, both of which are fairly difficult to secure.

The Muse

During all of this, I was video-calling friends fairly consistently. I was working out at home using resistance bands and a pull-up bar. Eventually, two of my friends started video-calling me during their workouts. We may have been separated by state-lines, but being able to hang out with them while working out recovered a bit of the normalcy lost in 2020. Then, that little itch in the back of my mind came full-force to the front: I am not the only one feeling this way! Virtual coaching seemed far-fetched previously because I had only worked in a gym setting. How could I train a client at home reasonably well? The answer was actually, “Easily.” I trained for powerlifting, so the ability to resume my training was directly tied to my access to a barbell. My clients, however, generally wanted to get in shape, get stronger, and maybe drop some weight. If they weren’t training for a powerlifting meet, then those three goals were actually extremely easy to find another training modality for.

The means to create those physiological adaptations were actually just a matter of causing enough mechanistic stress, which I knew how to do. You get in:

1) better cardiovascular shape by gradually maintaining a higher heart rate while exercising, similarly with lung capacity.
2) improve your strength by progressively lifting more difficult things.
3) manage your weight through conscious nutritional choices.

And none of these things were limited to a gym setting. Furthermore, my wife had always remarked how uncomfortable she had found the gym. In fact, many of my friends and clients had remarked about multiple reasons they had stayed out or continued to avoid the gym: it was awkward, they felt like everyone was watching them, they didn’t know what to do, they were overwhelmed, it was too crowded, it was scary, etc.

So there it was, my muse had come to life.

It took about 50+ cold calls, but I managed to get two clients to start. Obviously I’m not moving to beachside property any time soon, but I did it. I was able to secure something. If I did it once, I could do it a few more times, right?

Going Forward

Which brings us to day. Now, I’m still learning how to market effectively. It turns out that I was wrong initially – quality does sell. It was exactly the reason the clients signed. That being said, I now have to work on getting my name out there. I’m entering the unfamiliar world of email lists, Instagram hashtags, and speaking in front of a camera without being a clown. I’m nervous, I’m excited, and I welcome all the help anyone has to offer! My goal currently is to post on here 2x a week, and post a video about training at least 1x a week. So here’s to moving forward and trying to pull dreams into reality!

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