On March 18, Bryan Majors, a personal trainer specializing in basketball, sent 5,000 subscribers an email message with the subject line “I am Corona-positive.”
Majors was trying to say he was being proactive and simply keeping an optimistic attitude about dealing with the virus and pandemic. The balance of his email made that clear.
But the subject line caused some to freak out. Understandably, some readers assumed he was actively battling the virus.
Two days later, he sent a follow-up message called “Positive Mindset.”
“Don't be scared or worried,” he wrote, “I do not have Covid19. I apologize if you did not understand the previous email. I'm talking about how we ALL should be during these trying times of the spread of the Corona VIRUS! POSITIVE!!!''
It's something of a metaphor for the personal training and fitness industry during the pandemic — getting knocked sideways, then getting back up and finding new methods that may outlast it.
“I don't regret the wording one bit,” said Majors, who has counted former McCaskey High School stars Kobe Gantz, Jerry Johnson, Dustin Salisbery and Lamar Patterson among his clients.
Now Majors is pumping out workout videos to clients.
“I am surely going to remain in business,” he said, “and maybe get better.”
Gyms are closed throughout Pennsylvania and most of the country. That means trainers who work at gyms, generally independent contractors, are taking a serious hit.
“It's going to have a huge financial impact,” Dan Cless, a trainer at Hempfield Rec Center, said last week.
“If we have two weeks of down time, obviously, we don't make any money.”
But as much as any professionals, trainers are embracing online technology to take their service to the client.
Cless uses training software to connect with his clients and create workouts for them. He also does at-home training.
Lancaster's Solid Rock Fitness and Health does almost exclusively in-home training, but that business has mostly dried up during the past couple of weeks.
So it has turned to online training, posting videos to a Facebook group.
“The community aspect of it is really beautiful,” said Solid Rock's owner, Valerie Petersheim.
Petersheim has engaged a nutritionist and yoga teacher to provide videos. The Facebook group is made up of mostly Lancaster County residents, although it includes members from as far away as Arizona and Florida.
“It's a week-to-week thing, but I think it can sustain,” Petersheim said. “The mental and emotional benefit, right now, is as important as the physical.”
Crunch Gym in Lancaster is offering a variety of workout videos to members, and also offering a 45-day free trial membership.
Universal Athletic Club in Manheim Township is offering a library of video workouts, many of them open to non-members, and live workouts utilizing the Zoom video teleconference software.
“A week and a half ago, we were scratching our heads, wondering how we were going to pull this off,” said Sheldon McBee, Universal's personal training director.
“Now, we're thinking that when this is over, we're going to continue to use this technology.”
Petersheim went a step further.
“People are going to want this model,” she said. “It's a lot less germy than a gym.”