Training a Client With a Compromised Immune System

It is very likely that in the not-to-distant future the world will see an increase in divorces, pregnancies, obesity, alcoholism, homelessness, and suicide. We have a duty and obligation as health and fitness practitioners to reach-out to our friends, loved ones, and complete strangers to educate, motivate, and give hope in these uncertain times. The combination of poor nutritional habits, increased alcohol consumption, decreased physical activity, depression, and stress will inevitably increase the likelihood of disease.

It is time for the health and fitness industry to reinvent itself. The days of brick and mortar establishments may soon be in the rear view mirror, but that does not lessen the need for high-quality health and fitness professionals to coach, motivate, prescribe, and inspire.

Telemedicine has been around for several decades, but the outbreak of coronavirus has led to an upswing in telemedicine, according to health systems and provider groups across the country. Millions of people are needing to connect with their doctor electronically. Not only does this allow patients to practice social distancing, it reduces the spread of the disease and protects the healthcare workers.

The next step is, and will continue to be, telefitness. Those with existing health conditions and compromised immune systems are afraid to walk out their front door, let alone go to their healthclub or gym. Like it or not, this is our new reality and we have a choice of digging our heels in and resisting change, or being willing to adapt in order to help those in need as well as maintain our own income.

In one study in the American Journal of Medicine, women who walked for a half-hour every day for 1 year had half the number of colds as those who didn’t exercise. Researchers found that regular walking may lead to a higher number of white blood cells, which fight infections.

In another study, researchers found that in 65-year-olds who did regular exercise, the number of T-cells — a specific type of white blood cell — was as high as those of people in their 30s.

A study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2011 found that moderate exercise of walking improved immune response and reduced incidence of upper respiratory illness.

People who engaged in regular moderate exercise — such as five days a week of walking 45 minutes each session over 15 weeks — reduced their number of sick days by up to half, compared to sedentary people.

However, too much intense exercise, such as more than 90 minutes of high-intensity endurance training, has been linked to reduced immunity.

Here are some great alternatives to in-person training or  live group classes:

1) Skype, Facetime, or Zoom training – these are great options for those that are tech-savvy enough to use them. Keep in mind that there are still many people that have difficulty with technology. Since you will be able to eliminate travel time and can do this from the comfort of your own home, maybe you can drop your rate. For most people a half hour session will do the trick! You can charge for a month at a time – taking into consideration the amount of time and the days that you will conduct your sessions. If someone wants M/W/F at 11-11:30, they need to commit to the month. For those that can’t or don’t want to commit, give them some off hour choices. If they are existing clients, you already have their health history questionnaire, medical clearance (if warranted), and liability release. If you are looking to market yourself to new clients, make sure that you obtain all paperwork prior to your first session.

2) Personalized video training – this may also require a bit of technological prowess, but  less than the former. Offer to create a customized exercise video once a week for 1, 2, or 3 months. This can include a warm-up, stretching, strength training, balance, lymph drainage, etc. based on the person’s individual needs. The video could be 30, 45, or 60 minutes. You can price these according to how long a video they want and how many months they commit to. This is also nice because it doesn’t all have to be done at once. For those people who are overwhelmed by the thought of half an hour of exercise, you can ease them into the concept by encouraging them to do one ten-minute session at a time. If they are existing clients, you already have their health history questionnaire, medical clearance (if warranted), and liability release. If you are looking to market yourself to new clients, make sure that you obtain all paperwork prior to delivery of workout videos. You may even be able to use some of your video content and post it on a YouTube Channel and start building your video library.

3) Phone consultations – just about everyone knows how to operate a phone so this is a universal solution. Even for those in another country, you can use whatsapp. Offer to check-in with your client by phone 1, 2, or 3 times per week following their own workouts. Perhaps this is a follow-up for those who you are making videos for (making sure that they are doing them, that they are not experiencing pain or negative side-effects,  or seeing if anything needs to be tweaked), or they could stand on their own (the client wants to do their own “thing,” but wants the accountability from you). You can use this time to ask them things like level of difficulty/exertion, any aches or pains, energy level, what are they eating and when, how much sleep are they getting, etc.

While this list is certainly not all-encompassing, it should give you somewhere to start. If you would like to have your own personal consultation, you can schedule one with Andrea Leonard and have her personalize your business success strategy.