The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many industries at large. The major industries we saw take a hit are the entertainment, hospitality, food, film, manufacturing and fitness industry. It became difficult for many of the businesses in these industries to adapt quickly to the new change to stay on track. We saw many businesses shutting down and people getting laid off and it continues to increase in number. With recession at its peak worldwide, businesses and individuals needed to adapt and embrace online social media to stay alive.
With this respect, we saw the fitness industry move online at a rapid pace. At one end of the spectrum gyms and fitness centres shut down while at the other end we saw the growth of many online fitness trainers, programmes and apps. Trainers started looking for clients not only in their own vicinity, but around the world as social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more made it easier to reach out to new people. With Covid-19 bringing about a digital revolution, the fitness industry brought their sessions and competitions online, through Zoom, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp Business etc.
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Will this trend continue even post the Covid-19 pandemic?
At Goan Insider we spoke to Ashwyn Barreto, a certified Fitness trainer who is transforming the idea of fitness in Goa. Here are the excerpts.
Tell us about yourself, your previous plans? What were you doing before becoming a fitness trainer?
I am Ashwyn Barreto , a NASM Certified Personal trainer based in Goa. I was pursuing a Masters in Geology at St.Xaviers Mumbai before I thought of becoming a fitness coach . I dropped out of my Masters at my own will as I came to realise better prospects outside the field of Geology and I decided to get myself certified as a Fitness Trainer when I came back to Goa, as I always had a passion towards Fitness & Well-being.
What made you get into fitness?
During my School days , I was a pretty scrawny kid and very often got bullied by not only my seniors but my own batch mates too. Fitness was the gateway to me finding my self-confidence which I feel is the most important requirement for an individual to grow in life. The kind of mental and physical growth I have experienced through the process of transforming my physique has made me discover my calling. This was when it all began, and I decided that I am going to help everyone around me by improving their quality of living.
What are the various certifications related to fitness that you hold? Where did you complete them?
Initially when I just began I had gotten a domestic fitness trainer certification done. This was done in Goa itself at a gym in Panjim known as ‘Gym n Tonic’. This allowed me to work as a Personal trainer at a well respected gym in the city , called Fitness Bar . A year later I enrolled for an International level Fitness certification known as NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). I managed to get my certification done just before the lockdown could come into effect. The NASM Certification is an American based certification , so for one staying in India it’s basically to be prepared for through self study, and the exam has to be answered in Mumbai.
Where are you based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
I am based out of Goa , born and brought up here and I would not leave it for anything because Goa is definitely Heaven on Earth . Business growth here is a little slow compared to other states of India , but only in Goa can you manage to maintain a balance between your work and your social life.
Who are your competitors and what makes you stand out from them?
I don’t believe in competition and thus I don’t look at others in the same field as competitors. I believe we as Human beings grow together and just alone, we stand no chance to win. There is always something for everyone and you just should not be greedy as that will lead to your downfall . Whenever any work comes my way that is not possible for me to handle , I transfer it to one of my fellow trainers to whom it would be of help to. The end goal is to grow together and I believe that if you give you will always get back in different ways.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a freelance fitness trainer?
Well as I stated above, staying in Goa has made it possible to maintain a work-life balance. One thing that changes once you start freelancing is that, now you are your own boss. Your growth and earnings is directly proportional to the work you put in , thus it’s all upon you now whether you want to grow in life or stay where you are currently . If you want to grow it will come at the cost of you losing out on some social life nights but that’s fine, as there is always a right time and place for everything in life.
What gets you excited about your work?
In this line of work , it’s all about improving your clients’ quality of living and many at times, I receive messages of appreciation of how I have helped my clients mentally and physically and there is no better happiness than putting a smile on someone else’s face. The positive feedback and appreciation keeps me going and motivates me to work harder every single day.
I am very lucky to have been surrounded by business and growth minded people. This has inculcated an entrepreneur mindset in me . Once you decide you want to be an entrepreneur, everyday is an opportunity for you to get closer to your goals and that’s how it has been ever since I have started freelancing. This makes me look forward to every new day as a chance to be an inch closer towards the final destination.
How do you build a successful clientele?
Building a successful clientele is all about providing uncompromising customer service. It’s about delivering what you have promised. Happy customers are loyal customers. Remember in the end it’s all about keeping your clients happy . If they are happy, not only will they stay with you but they will also bring many more clients to you by a positive word of mouth which is the most important and powerful type of publicity you could ever ask for.
How do you think Covid-19 will change the fitness industry?
Covid-19 has made people realise that their health is more important than their accumulated wealth and many have finally begun to look at fitness as a lifestyle rather than a luxury. There has been a crazy influx of new trainers and coaches who use social media to carry out their business because currently all you need is a phone and you can do wonders. I doubt gyms will ever see the same traffic as before as currently many people have invested in building their personal home gyms.
Do you see yourself continuing the new trends? Or would you go back to gyms once they open?
I have never freelanced at a gym as all my clients have their personal home gyms so it doesn’t really affect me. As far as my clients are concerned, who I train over a Zoom video call, it will stay the same as most of these clients are not from Goa.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night
This is a very interesting question. Well, my day starts at 6.30 AM , with my first PT Session starting at 8 AM. I have just sufficient time to have my first breakfast and prepare for the day . I get done with the PT Sessions by 11 AM post which I have my second breakfast followed by working on the programs that I offer my online clients. I have my lunch at 1 PM, post which I catch a small nap to help me focus on the second half of the day. My second half starts off with content creation work for my Instagram page, after which I will have my fourth meal of the day by 4 PM and get ready for my PT sessions in the evening. I get done with my evening PT Sessions by 7 PM.
After 7 PM is the time I manage to hit my workout and then directly have my dinner as my post workout meal and get done by 9 PM or so. After dinner, I sit with social media related work and also reply to calls from all my international clients. By the time I am done for the day it’s 10 PM . After this I take up some reading, just to relax my mind and head to bed by 11 PM.
According to you, how has social media impacted the fitness industry?
Social media is the biggest traffic generator. Thanks to social media the entire world is now your customer base and based on the kind and quality of content you put up, you can attract clients from anywhere in the world . Social media has made growth in a place like Goa possible because we don’t have to worry about the limited footfall that you normally experience in Goa.
What is next for you?
Well there is a lot in store, this is just the start. I am currently working on something that will allow me to reach out to a much wider audience and provide them with easy to access content . That’s all I can say because I am doer and less of a talker.
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