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Covid-19 pushed us online, but it’s not the same

By Ernest Ndunda | August 2nd 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The closure of gymnasiums, recreational facilities and fitness centres in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic did not stop Gladys Mustisya from what she does best.

The closure of training facilities has instead motivated the fitness trainer to stay active and motivate her clients to remain active online for work-out sessions.

It is 5am as Gladys prepares to go live on her Instragram account.

Her dedicated clientele have been following her training sessions on video conferencing applications..

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The clients are trained at different times. “I go for one hour full session from 5.30am to 6.30am with trainer Gladys before I go to work,” says Caroline Wanjiru, who says working out in the gymnasium and online are quite different.

“Online you are restricted to some work-outs and sometimes network connectivity might be a challenge while in the gymnasium you find more training equipment and training partners as well,” she says.

Faith Kandu says she does a 10km run daily, from 5am to 6am at Mama Ngina Drive, Mombasa, under the close watch of her trainer. “We hope Covid-19 pandemic will be contained soon so that we can go back to our normal training programs,” says Faith after concluding her morning work-outs.

Since her focus is on training the elderly and people who need special attention, Gladys has adopted a different approach amid financial constraints brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Since I specialise in training the elderly and those who need special workouts, I have learned to exercise patience as I must motivate them, says Gladys, who holds a sports science degree.

“The elderly need a lot of attention and a professional trainer needs to be well organised, have time management and interpersonal skills. Remember a fitness trainer is in a helping profession,” she says.

“I have learned a lot from my South African coach where I have transformed the coaching skills to benefit my fitness clients. The elderly and people with special cases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes among other diseases may need moderate exercises from basic walking to cycling, dance or Zumba classes,” says Gladys.

Gladys, an avid runner, was ready for the Lafarge Lusaka half marathon (which had been scheduled for May 9, 2020) and the Zambezi waterfront half marathon in Zambia in July but the events were cancelled. She is coached by South African  Team C 16 coach Benzi Tenza when preparing for major international events.

“We must be more creative and come up with workable ideas and adjust to a new way to compensate our losses due to the outbreak. Closure of fitness centres has restricted many coaches and fitness instructors to working from home. There is no one-on-one or group sessions with clients but my role is to make my clients stay healthy and fit despite the outbreak,” she says.

“Fitness entails a lot of physical exercise and since gyms are closed, I opted to keep my clients fit online.”

She, however, points out that the going is tough. At the fitness centre in Mwembe Tayari, Mombasa where she conducted her coaching before the Covid-19 outbreak, she says she used to be busy with new sign-ups with business thriving.

“Let us be honest. It is a really tough and unimaginable situation and a tough time for us as coaches and trainers. We have dependants to look after and make ends meet. We are many sailing in the same boat,” says the trainer.

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