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Empowered Entrepreneur: Amy Thompson and Doris Thews

Two industry leaders provide insights on how the fitness industry can come together and work collectively to turn crisis into opportunity.


The COVID-19 virus has affected all areas of the economy, and the fitness industry has been hit hard. Many brick and mortar stores are closed but can sell their goods online for home delivery. Restaurants can produce and sell food for carry-out or delivery. However, fitness is a service-driven business built on interpersonal connection. When health clubs and fitness studios were ordered to close in an effort to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus, thousands of fitness professionals were left scrambling to develop solutions to serving the customers they care deeply about, while continuing to earn a living.

This episode features two of the three IDEA 2019 award winners: Amy Thompson, who is not only the 2019 Fitness Leader of the Year but also the vice president and general manager of the Fitness Group for Active Interest Media (AIM) and IDEA (she hired for the position after winning the award); and Doris Thews, the 2019 Fitness Instructor of the Year. Brian Nunez, the Personal Trainer of the Year, was invited but unable to join the conversation due to scheduling conflicts.

As rapidly as fitness facilities were ordered closed, many fitness professionals pivoted their business models to offer online and virtual solutions. This is a new practice for many, and businesses are seeking guidance about how to leverage technology and thrive. This is such an extraordinary situation that there is no playbook of best practices to follow; however, Thompson and the entire IDEA team have been working diligently so that members know they’re not facing this challenge alone. As a result, IDEA has created the COVID-19 Resource Page and has redesigned its Facebook page so that professionals have an opportunity to share best practices. As Thews relates: “Let’s come out better, not bitter.”

The discussion focuses on how the industry has reacted to the closures that help keep America fit, as well as what it means for the future. How will we deliver fitness to the consumer moving forward? And what about continuing education for fitness professionals?

Pete McCall, MS

Pete McCall, MS, is the host of the All About Fitness podcast, and the author of Smarter Workouts: The Science of Exercise Made Simple as well as several articles and textbook chapters about exercise physiology. Pete holds a master’s degree in exercise science and has been educating fitness professionals since 2002. Currently, Pete lives in Carlsbad, California, where he is a consultant for Core Health & Fitness, Terra Core Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and the American Council on Exercise, and a coach for the Coastal Dragons rugby club.

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