The sports coaching and fitness industries look gloomy as the world continues to bite the bullet through these troubled times caused by COVID-19. In Singapore, as our community remains closed to the circuit breaker (a milder version of a complete lockdown), there is a lot of uncertainty, even as the possibility of reopening the economy on 1st June seems very realistic. Here are some personal thoughts on what freelance and associate sports coaches and fitness professionals can prepare themselves for as the economy prepares for its return.
We will go back into DORSCON Orange. There are going to be restrictions as previously, on sessions, classes, and limited use of facilities and venues. Coaches and trainers will have their sessions limited by the number of participants, coupled with strict entry control as previously to maintain social distancing. And this will carry on for some time until a vaccine is found. Bear in mind that as a community, we can go back into the circuit breaker mode if things turn for the worse, at any time.
The crowds are NOT going to be swarming back into the gyms and facilities. There is still fear lingering and the majority will NOT make a pro-active step forward back into their sport or exercise overnight. Expect a maximum of no more than 60% of your original clientele returning at best. Taking precedence from China and Korea who will only be opening their doors to domestic mass sporting events in July and August, Singapore will follow after no earlier than September. This will mean that as mass sporting events’ schedules remain uncertain, programs related to the sport will also be subjected to a very slow start till then.
The massive number of coaches and trainers who are being engaged by the Ministry of Education schools, People’s Association, and the Health Promotion Board are going to be subjected to the volatility of the activities and programs that may take longer than expected to return to the norm.
Since the beginning of the circuit breaker in early April, the sudden closure of gyms, studios, and facilities has led to an exponential rise of exercise programs transported onto the virtual platforms where we have seen the sudden influx of anyone what has the intention to do so, to provide free exercise content online. From celebrities, influencers, athletes, students, and even homemakers, the internet is nothing shy of daily content that has made paying for a professional to lead or train almost redundant at this junction in time. This, unfortunately, will become the new norm for a while and will inevitably contribute to the non-returning numbers as they continue to seek alternatives that are safer, easier, and possibly free.
The list goes on, as we have not even taken into account the economic recession that has impacted many to be displaced from their jobs, including white-collar executives who make up the majority proportion of gym members in the central business district area.
As bleak as all this sound, there is still some light at the end of the tunnel for the sports coaches and fitness professionals. Firstly, the playing field has almost been leveled. This crisis will inevitably bring down many small and medium-size gyms, facilities, and even companies. Opportunities will be apparent over time amongst the survivors. As a coach or trainer, if you continue to be forward-looking and can adapt to the demands of the new market requirements, it will be a fresh start as an entire industry from scratch. The ability to integrate new found skills through hosting live coaching sessions on virtual platforms, shifting to online and remote coaching methods to coach your clients with electronic software applications and being creative to host events and challenges online to engage your communities – will be a new way forward.
Once the entire COVID-19 episode blows overs, in-person coaching and training will return, but for those who can foresee hereafter, those who hold a presence both in-person and online will command their place in the new economy for sports coaching and fitness training of the future.
Sit tight and keep evolving!