COVID-19 has meant changes in everyone’s lives, including how we interact with each other, how we work, how we shop and how we work out. For those out there who have been missing the structure of exercising with the expert support of an instructor, Long Lean & Mean Fitness has a solution – a full slate of online programming to help you get your sweat on.

“When this all started it kicked us in the stomach a bit,” said Juanita Wyatt, owner of Long Lean & Mean Fitness, “we were one of the first businesses in town who chose to close based on what we were already seeing happen in southern Canada. We felt really strongly that it wasn’t about the business at a time like this, but about the community and their well-being.”

Luckily for Wyatt she soon found that the community she was trying to protect and support wanted to do the same for her. She explained, “A bunch of our clients started reaching out and asking us to offer online courses. It felt like a very large obstacle and seemed really unattainable to me, but with so much support from our community I felt like I had to try.”

She started by re-drafting Long Lean & Mean Fitness’ waivers. That done, she tackled teaching herself a new software system. “I really only had a couple of days to pivot and get it done,” she said, “I was able to push myself because people were really looking for the mental well-being support that our programming could offer.”

The COVID-19 lockdown has left fitness studios empty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in shape

Moving Long Lean & Mean Fitness’ programming online to a video format has required Wyatt to make some adjustments to her teaching style. “I have to verbally cue participants a lot more as they can’t see my body language as clearly as they could in-person,” she explained, “it means that your voice gets so dry – you feel like you’re made of dust by the end of a class.”

She added, “And I had to adjust to being on camera all the time. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be – it’s a unique perspective of seeing yourself throughout most of your class and seeing your participants through a bit of a filter.”

Wyatt keeps the chat class’ chat window open at the end of each workout so the students can interact with her and each other, recognizing that exercise classes normally help participants fill a need for social interaction as well as health benefits.

“I wanted to continue to be myself through all of this,” she said, “I wanted to see people laugh and smile, and swear when things get hard.”

The virtual nature of the programming has allowed the diversity of those smiles to expand. “We have people from Alberta and the NWT joining the classes now,” said Wyatt, “some are people who have moved away and it’s really nice to see those faces from the past, and some are new faces who are finding our classes because of the unique situation COVID puts us all in.”

Currently Long Lean & Mean Fitness are running one to two classes a day on weekdays, taught by Wyatt. The programming has a strong focus on pilates and barre.

“When I opened the doors of Long Lean & Mean Fitness three years ago I didn’t really know what to expect or who exactly we were yet,” said Wyatt, “in the intervening period I’ve come to realize that we are whoever you need – there are people on both extreme ends of the fitness ruler, but most of us are somewhere in the middle and the community needed somewhere for those people in the middle to go. I like to think of it now as if we are the bicep, creating space for everyone in that middle ground to come together.”

Wyatt stresses how that community that Long Lean & Mean Fitness has built has really humbled her during the current crisis. “I am so grateful and feel so blessed,” she said.

If you aren’t yet convinced that virtual exercise is the way to go, Wyatt has a parting piece of advice: “If you don’t choose to use this time at home to work out you’ll likely learn what TikTok is, and no one should be doing that.”

You can learn more about Long Lean & Mean Fitness’ programming and sign up for virtual classes at their website:

Falling back into programming