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The COVID-19 Crisis: Transforming Our Lives and Our Industry

These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls.” —Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Pamphlet 1, December 23, 1776.

Even as I write this note to you at the end of March, I know the world will be a different place by the time you read it.

The fitness industry—like the rest of the global community—has been transformed in previously unimaginable ways since the COVID-19 crisis upended every bit of structure and normalcy we once knew. Even amid my daily gratitude reflections in better times, I don’t think I ever thanked the universe for the comfort of routine and the stable framework of habit around which I built the house of my life. I clearly took these things for granted. Oh, how I miss those boring, familiar friends.

The entire IDEA team was sent home to work remotely, starting March 12. Whether we were ready or not, we were thrust into a world held together precariously by the strength of our internet signals. We had little choice but to adopt virtual technology that allowed us to see each other’s faces and connect. And we are truly grateful for that connection and for the opportunity to keep working and to do everything we can to help this industry and the people in it whom we hold so dear.

While, today, IDEA employees still have jobs, many millions across the country do not. It’s crushing to grasp that tens of thousands of those without work are fitness professionals. New U.S. unemployment numbers just came out, and they are breathtaking in the worst way.

As a service industry that has traditionally leaned heavily on brick and mortar and relies on a personal, high-touch model, fitness is especially hard hit by shelter-in-place mandates and layoffs. IDEA has been working day and night to gather intelligence and prioritize how we can best inspire and support IDEA members and the industry during this difficult time.

Here is what IDEA is doing to help:

  • We have created the IDEA COVID-19 Support page. It is updated regularly with resource links to help you with small-business relief services and strategies, networking, self-care and stress relief, virtual-training considerations, liability insurance, music licensing, programming for housebound kids and adults, sample workouts, nutrition/recipes, fitness handouts you can send clients to stay in touch—and much more. We encourage you to check in often and use these resources.
  • We are launching a webinar series in which our best and brightest leaders will talk through all of these challenges. Look for the recordings on the COVID-19 Support page. By the time you read this, there should be several links.
  • We have drawn the fitness community together. By connecting bright minds and spirits, we become much stronger.
    • Join the IDEA Fit Pro Support—COVID-19 Facebook group and share your challenges.
    • Do you have a question you need help with? Post it here on IDEA’s Fit Pro Forum and source the wisdom of the IDEA community. You need not weather the storm alone.
  • We have launched a new IDEA health insurance benefit. Everyone should have access to health care, and for the first time, IDEA has found a way to deliver this option to fitness professionals. Learn more about individual and family policies, medical and dental coverage, year-round open enrollment, and low-cost and free preventive services at link health.ideafit.com.

If you need help with anything or just want a sympathetic ear, call us at 800-999-4332, ext. 7. We are here for you.

It’s hard to imagine now, but when all is said and done, a new industry model will emerge—a model we were on the cusp of anyway, but which these circumstances will push us to adopt faster. We will see innovation and inspiration in the online space. Virtual classes, training and coaching sessions will be part of the new norm and will give fitness businesses and pros the ability to connect with clients wherever they are on the planet.

One thing I know is certain: When this nightmare is finally over, people are going to realize the benefits of having stronger bodies, more healthful habits and an elevated immune function. They are going to crave personal connection, inspiration and movement. And don’t doubt for a moment that anyone can deliver those things as brilliantly as you, the diamonds that make the fitness world go.

To end with another slightly edited quote from the same Thomas Paine Common Sense pamphlet I started with (aptly titled “The American Crisis”), I will leave you with this: “[The COVID-19 Crisis], like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” Please stay in touch and let us know how we can help.

With love and strength from your IDEA Team,

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster






Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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