Dubai based fitness trainers talk about how COVID changed the fitness industry forever

image of a women sitting on treadmill

Olivia McCubbin

The pandemic has changed the fitness industry completely. Every industry is being adapted to carry on with this permanent shift. Every single person and business is affected by COVID-19 in some way or another but the small-medium enterprises’ community around the globe is one of the most severely affected.

Dubai’s most hard-working fitness trainer Olivia McCubbin who has an almost superhuman level of athletic grit talks about how her life changed on March 15, 2020, when all the gyms were asked to shut in the UAE.

This fitness guru-come-model runs Best Body Co. with her husband Adam McCubbin who also is an accomplished fitness trainer. Their Ultimate Ramadan Fasting challenge is a big success. This UAE-based Australian power couple talk to Story Of Fitness about how overnight their lives changed when their business was forced to discontinue all operations and programs until further notice. They also raise an important point about why fitness trainers need to get paid for their service during the pandemic. This is their story.

 “Since October 2018, when Best Body Co. launched we have had great success in helping transform people’s health and lives in the Middle East with thousands of people going through our programs. Working with corporate companies on their health and wellness programs, partnering with gyms and studios to implement our programs and of course running our client-facing famous program the Original #6in4Challenge. Starting with just two locations and two class times, our reach rapidly expanded with multiple locations and class times, getting extra coaches on board to run classes and to help grow the business and our impact and mission to help as many people as possible achieve lifelong health and fitness. Best Body Co. was on an upward trajectory and was looking to continue to grow and help improve, educate, and change peoples’ lives for the better with our programs.

 Until 15th March 2020. That day would change our business forever. In line with the UAE government directive, all gyms were closed to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All of our products and programs were based out of gyms with face-to-face classes, Orientation Seminars, and weigh-ins, that required human contact with our customers. Overnight our business was forced to cease all operations and programs until further notice. Initially it felt like a gut punch. Not knowing what was going to happen… How long were we going to be shut? How long could we survive without any income? Would we be forced to close altogether and move back to Australia? Plus, the added stress of not knowing the ramifications of the virus and would we be safe? How will our clients respond? Much like everyone else dealing with this stressful situation just from a health perspective, in making sure that we were doing the right things and taking precautions for our health and safety but also the wellbeing of our members.

image of a couple in gym

” Having a large group of our members, much like us, we were all in dismay and thrown out of our routine. For anyone that follows a healthy lifestyle, you know that the secret for success is all about establishing a routine and habits for success. Knowing this closure would stop all the positive momentum that many of our members had experienced, but also on a personal note, not having any structure to our routines wasn’t reassuring.

 Within the first week of gyms closing, we decided that we would launch a free 10-day program to keep our existing members active and maintaining their healthy habits. Money was not the most important thing for us, as we want to ensure our loyal members stay positive, happy and healthy – it’s why we launched Best Body Co. in the first place, out of our passion to HELP PEOPLE like you 😅❤️ Neither Olivia or myself were experts in the online virtual space of fitness. All of our experience had been face-to-face stuff.

 “After launching the 10-day free fitness challenge, which we aptly named the “BBCO-rona Challenge” we had such a positive response with not only our existing members but hundreds of new people who had signed up to get involved too! The 10-day workout program would only last for 2 weeks and people were starting to wonder what they could do or follow after these 10 days were up! Looking online in particular in Dubai, there’s no shortage of online free workouts being offered by some of the big commercial gym providers and famous influencers. Doing daily free Instagram live sessions was saturated and didn’t seem to offer much more than a sweat session without much structure or commitment. We have always firmly believed in offering something of value that we would want for ourselves. All our products and programs that we have created, are things that we would want ourselves and would pay for.”

“Offering “another free program” would mean less commitment and effort from us but also the people that signed up for the program. You’d download it and perhaps let it sit there, waiting and hoping to “find the time” to get the workout done, despite all the best intentions! 😬😫 We thought, “let’s come up with a program for ourselves as coaches and for the people who want to stay healthy during these uncertain times.” To create something that would make people commit, stay accountable, and be a part of a community of like-minded people with the goal of better health and not accept that being in quarantine meant being passive, lazy or making excuses. That was when we quickly launched our Zoom live daily classes – for people looking for a structured and programmed style of training that would require minimal to no equipment and no additional financial investment during these tough times. For people who wanted to get back into a routine and who are forced to attend workouts when they’re on (or miss the class, much like our face-to-face classes), and invest a small amount of money that would motivate them to SHOW UP and not let their time or money go to waste. Our pet peeve as coaches is attending classes that are haphazardly put together with no focus on progression and improvement… 😏😳🙄

So, in our minds, we needed to create a program that would have a weekly structure similar to our strength and conditioning programs that we ran in the gym.

Building the momentum from the free 10-day free program and having numerous partnerships and collaborations with the Dubai Tourism and Economic Dapartment, Liv Bank, First Abu Dhabi (FAB) Bank, Accor Hotels Group, PepsiCo, Masafi, Kcal Extra, MyProtein, Clean Living Co., and many others, we didn’t waste any time with our new online programs.

 “With Ramadan upon us, we launched a 4-week fasting program, The Ultimate Fasting Challenge, with 5x per week training live training classes and a comprehensive +45 page guide for people to select a different fast to try, based on their goals – including an optimal Ramadan (religious) fasting program for people to get results. Getting back to our Original #6in4Challenge model, where we teach principles of nutrition to help people achieve their fitness goals through training, education, nutrition, and community support. In the fasting challenge, we delve into the different forms of fasting, how to get the best results, and keep people accountable with our online community. After dipping our toes into the online training platform, now we can safely say that it has broadened our business, taught us new skills and opened up a whole new audience for us to help – and the experience has been so rewarding and we are truly grateful to every one of you for your support – whether you’re currently doing one of our virtual programs, or simply showing your support by staying subscribed to our mailing list, reading, and engagement with our emails and on social media. Even if all gyms open up next week as per normal (which is highly unlikely), there has been a silver lining in this COVID-19 crisis. Learning a new skill set and creating new useful products that will now be the pillars of Best Body Co. moving forward. “

This article was originally published on May 10,2020

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