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eta week Oct 2

80% of success is turning up | Woody Allen

Pandemic Phoenix Club

Jonathan Shulman (eta qualified personal trainer)

Thanks to Covid I can train on Zoom and in the gym.

As the turbulence of Covid 19 continues and with the lack of predictability of our near future I have found myself oddly at ease and accepting of the “new normal”, maybe even thankful as I reflect on how this prolonged disruption has necessitated the need for reinvention of how we as trainers conduct our businesses.

Through lockdown and as the industry has slowed somewhat the past couple of months , many trainers have recognized the value of self-care , both physical and mental , as we have had the time to reflect on how busy and cluttered our pre-Covid lives had become.

We have come to realize that some of the time less is more and that the resilience and recognition of our profession as personal trainers lies in the quality of our expertise.

This crisis has also reminded us that the stability of our businesses and loyalty of our customers will always be anchored on the foundation of the quality of our work and the genuine care for our clients. The fire of this crisis has truly separated the wheat from the chaff and reminded us that if we focus on quality of work the quantity will follow.

It is said that desperation is a fantastic catalyst for growth and reinvention.

Through this crisis many trainers have reinvented themselves and their businesses in amazing ways as they were forced to operate and adapt to training outside a facility.

Many trainers who were camera shy are now not only surviving but thriving through the zoom lens and over the many online portals available nowadays. For many trainers this would not have been the case had this crisis not necessitated this reinvention.

Trainers have also become more resourceful in adding different modalities of movement and the move to outdoor and bodyweight training has given many of our clients’ new awareness of their physical capabilities as well as shifting us as trainers to broaden our skill sets.

It has reminded us of the invaluable role that exercise plays in holistic lifestyle management, both mentally and physically.

Make no mistake COVID-19 has been challenging for the fitness sector as a whole but the resilience and skills we have learnt will only serves us as individuals and the sector as a whole once this crisis has passed , and this too shall pass.

Onwards and upwards shall our industry continue to go. I The gyms have opened, and I will return AND do zoom training!

Yours in health and wellness,

Jonathan Shulman (eta qualified personal trainer)


Recommended reading

Surviving to Thriving – Mental Toughness (Steve Harris)

Chapter 1. WHY SURVIVING TO THRIVING? (Continued from last week)

Reverting to research

Having concluded that it would be unprofessional to share behind-the-scenes stories about my surf lifesaving and Springbok rugby experiences, I once again turned to my PhD research (Harris, 2007) to find stories that would liven up my talks and publications.

I had to overcome the lack of inherent entertainment in a research paper and how quickly the research outcomes become outdated as the scientific method refines what we hold as truth.  I decided to continuously update the research and express some of the enduring outcomes through storytelling. However, this decision exposed me to the possible accusation that I cherry-pick the research to suit the presentation and in so doing go down a slippery slope away from the original academic rigour. The assumption is that my presentations could be dominated by personal bias. I guess I am guilty as charged. My presentations and publications do integrate my personal views into the research outcomes.


Once you can read anything you can learn everything

When presenting at conferences, I usually include video snippets and extracts from relevant books as references. Many of these I did not use, or were not yet published, when I was busy with my original research paper. I refer to books because I feel strongly that people will be so much better informed if they were open to multiple perspectives. One-way to achieve this is to read widely.

The adage: those who do not read have no advantage over those who cannot read. Many read magazines, and I have no doubt that articles in some magazines are valuable, but I suspect magazine articles are prone to providing entertainment as their first goal and don’t always qualify as learning material. Tragically, I would not be surprised if most people spend more money on glossy magazines and even toilet paper than they do on books.


Of course, you do not have to limit yourself to reading. You could listen to credible podcasts or watch Ted Talks like The Danger of a Single Story by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Her humorous stories demonstrate how her English education in Nigeria coloured her stories, until she became aware of the dangers of a single story.

I also make liberal use of business leaders like Richard Branson to support my claims. Most of all, I use sport examples, current and down the ages, to spice up my motivational presentations.


Become an admiration winner – turn up

I often reference the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament in my presentations. You will recall that Spain won the tournament that year. I pose the question: “Was there another winner in a different context?” The obvious answer is that South Africa was also a winner. Most of my audience members are aware that South Africa was a world admiration winner when it came to hosting the event and for the spirit generated in the country at the time.

Naysayers claimed the tournament would never happen, and if it did, visitors would be robbed or even killed if they came to South Africa. Despite these claims, the tournament was a tremendous success.

Sadly, South Africa’s world admiration status has not been maintained since then. Nonetheless, World Cup 2010 was a moment South Africans can call upon as a positive reference point for rallying inspiration.

The question I pose to my audiences is around the opportunity of becoming a winner in a different context, like an admiration winner. There is always another award on offer. Admiration winner is a title we could all strive for in any endeavour, whether it be sport, work, or relationships.

The often-used claim that 80% of success is ‘turning up’, originally attributed to the film maker Woody Allen, is applicable to the South African public in 2010. They turned up! You may argue, the same cannot be said for the South African football team. Many of the fancied teams also failed to turn up. Think about England, Argentina, and Brazil in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 tournaments. They certainly did not turn up, though you may argue that England’s semi-final position in 2018 combined with Harry Cane’s Golden Boot award somewhat redeemed them.

One of South Africa’s Super Rugby teams, the Stormers, often qualified for play-offs or semi-finals in the Super Rugby tournament. I recall, after one of these play off matches, the words of their captain, Jean de Villiers, in a post-match speech. He was asked why the Stormers once again failed to win in the final stages. “We didn’t turn up,” he replied. Of course, he did not mean turning up physically. All the players were on the field. I am sure he meant turning up with all their faculties, particularly their minds, to maximise their performance.

Turning up with surviving to thriving skills will give you the inches that will contribute to creating a competitive advantage in any endeavour.


Has not “turning up” mentally affected your ability to go from surviving to thriving? Write to us and let us know.


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