Containment: home sports coaches in full doubt, between a total shutdown, forced digital adaptation and illegality


On October 28, the date of the announcement of a return to confinement by the President of the Republic, many accused the coup. For the second time in the space of a few months, bars, restaurants and other businesses deemed “non-essential” had to prepare to close their doors. Unlike all these shutdown professions, home coaches have had the right to a reprieve.

Between the official start of confinement (Friday, October 30) and the communication of the formal ban on exercise (Monday, November 3), a blur has set in for those who had just started to resume their activities and aspired to to make up for the financial losses accumulated in the spring. On social networks, worried messages have followed one another, highlighting fears relating to new confinement.

Containment: home sports coaches in full doubt, between a total shutdown, forced digital adaptation and illegality

Finally the sports ministry came to clarify things: “no, it is not possible to receive a coach at home except for people who have a medical prescription or who are disabled”. Except that some professionals have stepped into the open breach and have decided, more or less consciously, to defy the ban.

When some take the path of illegality

“Honestly, I didn’t know that I no longer had the right to coach at home. I learned that it was forbidden for hairdressers because they are in direct contact with their clients, but I understood that everything what was home help or home exercise could continue. “ Former high level athlete, Fabrice (the first name has been changed, Editor’s note) has been working as a coach in the Paris region for about ten years. Independent, he explains that even knowing he is illegal he will continue to practice “because I have no other solutions for the moment. There is a survival instinct, when you are the father or mother of a family, you do not think too much. I’m not saying that we have to break the rules, I’m the first to think that we have to be able to get out quickly together. But when you have a knife in your throat, you are independent and you only have a job by rolling up your sleeves, being forced to stay at home without bringing in any money is very complicated. “

“I go directly to my customers, most have gardens and take me through the garage to avoid any contact with their home. I don’t touch them, I put on my mask, I disinfect my equipment and then I leave”

Fabrice is far from the only professional who wants to circumvent the prohibitions related to confinement. Just take a quick look at several business ad sites to find home coaching deals. Thomas, a former professional football player who officiates in the North, is one of the offenders. “This situation creates difficulties and that is why I try to diversify as much as possible by using this type of site”, he explains. “It can also happen to me to go door-to-door, to distribute flyers … I go directly to my clients, most of them have gardens and take me through the garage to avoid any contact with their home. I don’t touch them, I put on my mask, I disinfect my equipment and then I leave. This is based on responsibility, the goal is obviously not to infect the people we coach. “

Among the arguments defended by several professionals preferring to remain anonymous, the lack of understanding about the impossibility of exercising is undoubtedly the most recurrent. “I do not understand the reasons which led to this decision, we can do everything by keeping a good distance, three or four meters, with a mask for the coach“, asks Fabrice. Thomas joins him: “Today there is a real vagueness in terms of contact, while the problem is different from that for aesthetic care.” At the beginning of October, coaches but above all managers, employees and members of sports halls pointed out the same misunderstandings during a mobilization in Paris.

Mobilization against the closure of sports halls, October 2, 2020 in Paris.
Mobilization against the closure of sports halls, October 2, 2020 in Paris.

© NOÉMIE COISSAC / HANS LUCAS / HANS LUCAS VIA AFP

Young coaches without activity and sometimes forced to find a rescue job

For other young graduates who have just completed their training, this new confinement is also a huge blow. Delphine graduated in July before moving to another region to be closer to his family. During the summer, she decides to canvass gyms, sends applications everywhere and begins to create her communication and prices in parallel. “All the structures in health sport have told me: “we cannot get up from the month of March, we cannot hire” “, she testifies.

In search of stability after many years as an intermittent in the show, she resumed an independent status to embark on home coaching, obtained a certificate to teach pilates and followed an APA training (adapted physical activity) – the only one today to allow home coaching. Delphine had just initialed a contract with a platform when the announcement of confinement fell. “Today I find myself with nothing, especially because I lack a network.”

“This health situation forces our hand, we no longer have a choice, we take a break from our desires”

Melody was part of the same promotion. Provider of a home coaching company in Hauts-de-Seine and Yvelines with the status of auto-entrepreneur, she put aside her activity to find a job as a pharmacy preparer, a position she held before its reconversion. “It’s a just-in-time job, it’s not my passion, I go backwards but I needed a salary”, she specifies. “This health situation forces our hand, we no longer have a choice, we take a break from our desires.”

Containment: home sports coaches in full doubt, between a total shutdown, forced digital adaptation and illegality

© Remi Decoster / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

Online coaching, an imperfect solution

Logically booming since March, the online coaching solution is popular in the current period. But it does not necessarily correspond to all uses and all practices. For Delphine for example, “I want to do this job to be human, not to be in front of my computer and order things over which I cannot have control”. Same story for Melody : “We often forget that it is poorly paid. You cannot correct postures, it will remain advice to stay in shape, with reinforcement, circuits, but without being in-depth. There may be a more marketing side than productive.” “For people who need motivation, there is nothing better than personalization and direct, there is more impact when there is this presence to give the right advice”, concludes Thomas.

“There will always be coaching afterwards, I’m sure, but it will be different”

Legitimate reflections especially since the competition in the digital niche is strong: we no longer count the online sessions provided by influencers or other non-professionals on social networks, enough to give the impression that everyone can s ” improvise a sports coach and give video lessons. For Fabrice, the problem does not date from today: “There are influencers a bit like there were blogs when people were not journalists. The council has become democratized without necessarily having any expertise behind it. But we must also see what the ‘we wait, what we come looking for. “

For him, who has a solid online community, digital can also act as a launching pad, especially after the end of the health crisis. The shift towards a renewal of the profession would be well underway. “There will always be coaching afterwards, I’m sure, but it will be different.” Today people tell me: “It’s a shame when we are no longer confined we can no longer play sports”. It’s impressive to hear that. Online courses have developed so much that they will be a strong focus, which does not mean that physical contact and personalized coaching will not come back, but in a second step. “

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Coronavirus: Online coaching, professionals adapt their program to containment


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Play sports to fight Covid-19

It remains to be seen what lessons can be learned after the health crisis on our ways of adapting our physical and sports practice, online or not. For a certain number of professionals, the future is not necessarily bleak: the epidemic has triggered an awareness that is all the stronger as to stay in good health, sport is a very effective tool. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity … These pathologies facilitate the contraction of the virus. “And how to fight against them? Through sport”, says Thomas. “Playing sports is trying to fight against Covid-19. If people no longer practice, we will have an even bigger hole in the finances of the Social Security. It’s prevention.”

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