Keeping Clients Fit During the Pandemic by Going Virtual

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Keeping Clients Fit During the Pandemic by Going Virtual

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“I took a deep breath,” she said.

She then began to think about how to keep her practice — usually done in studios or homes or on retreats — alive. She decided to take a stab at virtual teaching, even though she had no experience with it. Within a few days, Ms. Miller, 45, had downloaded the basic version of Zoom and set up lights and a camera in her home studio.

A test class for friends went well, Ms. Miller said, “so I thought, ‘Let’s open it up to a larger audience.’” She sent emails to students, new and old, inviting them to a Sunday morning class on March 29. “Just before we started the class, we reached 100, which was the limit for my version of Zoom,” she says. “I had to upgrade to Zoom Pro two minutes before the class started.”

Now, her Sunday classes average 135 participants, compared with an average of 30 to 35 before. Students log in from across the country, as well as Mexico, France and Austria.

“I’ve grown my business in a way I would have never expected,” she said.

For Travis Macy, an endurance-sports coach in Evergreen, Colo., the challenge was not solvable with a technology reboot. “It’s less of a supply issue, and more of demand,” Mr. Macy said. “All the races my clients were training to do have been canceled.”

Mr. Macy thought about how he could create new demand for his niche business. “We’re now saying, ‘OK, so if such and such a race isn’t happening this year, is there a cool mission or journey you’d like to take?’” he said. “‘Something meaningful to you?’”

He found clients eager to develop and prepare for such personal challenges. One plans to ride the Colorado Trail — 485 miles from Denver to Durango, through the Rocky Mountains — on a mountain bike. Another has expressed interest in a bike-riding tour of the West this summer with his wife. Others are planning to compete in virtual races.

“It’s highly individualized,” said Mr. Macy, who charges a monthly retainer for his services. “My role now is to help with identifying the goal, planning and guiding the client’s training and maybe helping with the route and gear.”

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