The COVID-19 pandemic has tossed the whole world upside down, people from different walks of professions and lives have been suffering this unprecedented crisis now more than six months. Being the second most populated country, India also ranked second as the most affected country following the USA and subsequently witnessed the worst ever GDP recorded so far. The phenomenon simply means the Indian economy has been drastically hampered with the sprees of nationwide lockdowns. The nationwide lockdowns have wrecked several progressive industries, let alone Indian Fitness Industry and allied sectors. The COVID-19-triggered lockdown has affected the lives of millions of fitness trainers as well as small and big gym owners, affecting the over-all fitness industry. During the period of lockdowns, gym trainers and small gym-owners have suffered a lot as they were forced to shut down their operations, in the wake to prevent the spreading of the virus. Devoid of any revenue-generating mechanism, the phase of gym closures has taken a toll on fitness trainers. At a time when the world of fitness training was switching to an all-new virtual mode of training, Indian fitness trainers found it hard to switch to Internet-based training available options. The phenomenon has highlighted the essence of proper training given to the trainers to raise their competence so that they can conduct their personal training without any hiccups. Hence, if we leave certified and updated fitness Trainers, other fitness trainers in India need to upgrade themselves with proper knowledge of anatomy, a scientific approach to workouts, and of course full application of the internet and technology. Seeing the current scenario, there is an ardent need of introducing some affordable and easy to access fitness program for young Indian fitness aspirants. As there are still more things to do in the fitness training sector, we have invited Gurnit Singh Dua, the CEO of India’s one of the leading fitness training institutes FSSA to share his views on the state of the Indian fitness training industry. In an insightful talk with Abhinav from Sportz Business Magazine, Gurnit Singh Dua highlights the necessary steps that need to be taken to raise the standard of the Indian fitness industry and subsequently Indian fitness trainers. Let’s read him what he has to say about all this and how FSSA is contributing with its programs.
Q What role did FSSA play during the pandemic to take care of fitness trainers?
FSSA Council is a not for profit organisation working with trainers & coaches, gym and studio owners, accreditation and govt of India bodies at various levels and other stakeholders with only one aim in mind – to raise the bar of health and fitness industry in the country. During the lockdown, we have come up with highly affordable training programs in fitness/nutrition modalities
- We have come up with innovative platforms such as Ms. Wellness
- We have launched a community-oriented program – Healthy lifestyle promoter
- We have started 100% virtual, tutor-led classes in various topics and subjects
All the above points have helped to keep our learners focused, engaged and to continually grow.
Q Being the founder and CEO of FSSA (Fitness and Sports Science Association) how do you see the revenuegenerating process of fitness trainers and how it can be improved?
I feel, and have always felt, it all boils down to one thing – how skilled you are! Skill here is an umbrella term – the word skill, in this context encapsulates a trainers’ experience, vision, certifications, education, knowledge, continuing education, communication skills combined with the fact whether he/she has been able to truly adapt to this scenario mentally and if they have adapted the right kind of technology/platform to achieve this. I can confidently say, trainers who have, they would have no dearth of work in these times.
Q The ongoing pandemic has made people aware of health and wellness in the pursuit of immunity, how do you see the future of Indian fitness post-COVID-19?
There may be no post covid19. What I am trying to say is the industry has changed forever and still people are not accepting the simple fact that trainings may never go back to being the way they were. At best, they would be hybrid i.e. mostly online and some onsite. Gyms need to understand that they need to offer now customised solutions for their customers and only gym packages are not enough. Every professional needs to be a flag bearer of healthy lifestyle i.e. should know basic concepts such as behaviour change, goal setting, working and liaising with other agencies, professionals and bodies, diet & nutrition, stress management, physical activity, calm mind but still staying within their scope of practice. The future is very bright for the professionals who are skilled and are not afraid to adapt and take risks.
Q Being a laureate in the fitness industry, what do you think about how much Education is important for fitness trainers?
I am a pedantic when it comes to education of a fitness/ exercise professional. For me, thorough professionals are the ones, who have completed their professional qualification like a Personal Trainer/Yoga Teacher/Pilates Instructor/group exercise certification, who holds a valid CPR AED card which is now a legal pre requisite for all trainer across the world, someone who keeps on continually skilling themselves, is professional and stays within their scope of practice. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about education on the fitness industry and most of the times I have seen and experienced that learners are not aware of what they should ideally do and from where; and this leads to a lot of trainers getting put off with spending money on unaccredited programs and institutes, fly by night operators, where there is no relevance, no support and no recognition. Education is a must and to keep continually educating yourself in the fitness field is the only way possible.
Q How do you see Fitness Trainers response toward getting educated and stay informed with technologies and other soft skills?
Even with the boom in the Indian fitness industry, the response in getting educated is not directly proportional to the rate of the growth of the industry. Trainers and coaches don’t realise just being a good trainer is not enough; you gotta be a good entrepreneur and you got to be able to sell. In all our programs, we have made a point to talk about giving our learners practical tips and handy tools to be able to go out and market themselves. And we are also about to launch a module “online provision of fitness services” which is a highly affordable workshop for all trainers and coaches to learn about adapting to the new normal, technological platform and soft skill specially rapport building with the clients.
Q Where do you find the Indian Fitness coaching market in comparison to other major western countries?
Share your relative insights over the topic. Like I mentioned earlier, time is are changing fastly but there is still a lot of work to do. I think firstly, the clients and/or the customers need to know how to look for a trainer based on his/her credentials. So, clients need to be educated at various levels. Also, there is definitely a significant increase in the number of people wanting to get certified but most of them don’t come back for upskilling or continuing education. I feel that still certification in India, the majority of the trainers see as a document but don’t really know how to use that knowledge and that document to its full potential.