Evanston fitness trainers and studios adapt to stay-at-home order


Ellen O'Brien, Reporter

With Evanston gyms and training studios closed, fitness trainers and instructors are finding new ways to help their clients stay active at home.

Illinois gyms and fitness studios were forced to close their physical locations under the state’s stay-at-home order, which is set to end May 30. In order to adapt to the change, local studios and trainers are continuing to hold virtual classes and personal training sessions.

Lela Beem, co-owner of Grateful Yoga, said she has noticed an increase in the number of clients purchasing class packages and group sessions.

For clients who typically cannot make the time to come into the studio for a class, such as young parents, the virtual classes are more suited to their schedules, Beem said. Grateful Yoga offers virtual classes at all times of day, including early in the morning and late at night, making it accessible for anyone who wants to participate, she said.

Former clients of the studio who moved away are now also able to participate in the virtual classes, Beem said.

“We’re in the stress relief business, and this is a really stressful time for people,” she said. “Our membership has actually gone up, and our attendance has been higher.”

Beem said students attend the class not only for the yoga, but also for the community aspect, often logging onto the Zoom session early to chat with other participants.

At D21 Fit Studio, clients have told owner Dietrich Horsey, said that the home workouts are actually harder than those done in the physical studio.

“People think the workouts are harder because you’re using body weight,” Horsey said. “It’s actually easier to lift weights than use your body weight because of the function of it.”

Horsey said he never thought to offer virtual sessions before the pandemic. He plans to integrate virtual training sessions into his future business model, to expand accessibility to clients who are traveling.

Personal training typically requires instructors to offer one-on-one in-person training. But TruFit Personal Training Studios owner Izzy Libmann (Communication ‘02), said she is still training about 80 percent of her usual clientele.

TruFit trainers have adapted their programs to the needs of clientele, Libmann said. They’ve designed programs and challenges available for clients to complete both on their own or in groups. Libmann said clients have been positive about the online training, especially since they don’t have to deal with parking in downtown Evanston.

Libmann has planned for when the studio space can reopen. According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan, fitness centers could offer one-on-one training and outdoor classes as soon as May 30. Libmann has already organized gridlines in the space to ensure adequate distancing. She’s also planning to enforce wearing masks, and will continue virtual training sessions for some clients.

“Whatever makes anyone feel safe, we’ll do,” Libmann said. “We’ll go above and beyond what is expected of us.”

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