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Training / June 2020
Danielle Rines, Reebok Editorial

Reebok Trainers Spill the Tea on the Ups, Downs and In-Betweens of Working from Home

We’re celebrating our Reebok coaches and trainers who are holding down the fort in their homes while keeping us fit. Get an inside peek at the good, bad, ugly and sometimes hilarious moments.

Being stuck at home, as most people are right now, can be frustrating. A good chunk of time has passed trapped inside with the ticking down of the weeks and keeping six feet apart is not getting any easier. A situation like this can bring out the best and (sometimes) worst in people.  Getting used to a new normal can be difficult because it’s different for everyone. Those lucky enough to have fitness trainers look to them for sanity throughout the madness of the day-to-day. They provide the escape that’s often needed and the encouragement to keep going when you feel like you’re ready to quit. While face to face training isn’t an option right now, Reebok is celebrating all of the trainers out there who are lifting everyone up (including each other) during this tough time. 
For fitness trainers, a stay at home order has been a total 180 reversal of their day-to-day routines. No more clients, no more gyms; no more doing what they love. But it’s so much more than that. On top of the career changes, there are also at-home shifts that have totally rocked the boat. Trainers who are usually up and out in the gym by the early hours and back late at night, are now at home with family and partners all day. Instead of being able to train in person, it’s video tutorials and classes or bust for the foreseeable future. So how are these trainers staying sane? How are they staying active themselves? What will the fitness industry look like when this is all over? 
In order to provide some insight into how trainers are handling these life-changing shifts, Reebok Training Center coaches and trainers answered a host of questions and got pretty candid with their responses. From happy moments to real struggles and everything in between, these trainers didn’t hold back. They are getting through these difficult times just like the rest of the world, with hope, gratitude and a little bit of humor. Check out their refreshing answers below.

How has your routine changed?

Austin Malleolo (Head Coach of Reebok Training Center): The routine has 100% changed from what it used to be…I think the biggest thing is my wife and I have to communicate a lot in order to get our jobs done and stay sane. In the former set up of life I traveled a lot for seminars and events. So last year I traveled 40 weekends out of the year. So, my wife was like, ‘I’m not used to you being home so much.’
Giancarlo Graziani (Reebok Training Center Coach): I was big on schedules before when there was more flexibility, but now it really has to be tight and just by the book. There’s not a lot of room for inefficiency during the day. It’s like a twelve-hour day, so my wife and I have about 5 or 6 hours to work. There’s only so much time in the day so using every opportunity I can has been helpful.
Kaitlyn McDonough (Reebok Training Center Coach): Prior to having to stay at home I’d be gone between 5:30 and 6 in the morning until 5 or 6 at night. I’d go over to Reebok and then I also have a personal training business on the side, so I see a lot of clients during the evening. My boyfriend is a state trooper. He gets home at 9 in the morning and sleeps until 5 or 6 at night. So that’s been really different since I’m here right now and he’s trying to sleep [laughs]. 
Denise Thomas (Reebok Training Center Coach): We don't really have many struggles. Obviously there's nothing really that sexy about our life. It’s pretty much the same as it was.  We just decided last week that we would give each other the schedules. 
Kevin O’Connell (Reebok Training Center Coach): I haven't been home for quite some time. So, now, I’m taking full advantage of it. My Mom is cooking a ton of food; it's becoming an issue. That “covid15” trying to stave that off, the best I can.

How has the current state of the world affected or impacted your relationships with your children, your co-workers, your family or your partner?

Austin: This has been a really difficult time for fitness professionals, gym owners, coaches because their businesses are closed. I probably have two or three phone calls a day with gym owners and some I don’t even know; they just reached out for help or support or guidance. That’s what we do in a gym. We help people, and that’s allowed me to feel fulfilled to give support where I can. 
Denise: I'm not a big drinker but I’ve fallen into this like, “Oh, I think I’ll have a cider” It’s like 4 o’clock and I’m wanting to drink a cider. Before I didn’t really drink a lot. So date night now has become a night where we’ll kick back and have a drink and maybe FaceTime some friends.
Kevin: My dad, he's a big-time avid runner, has been for years. Been doing marathons from his 20s up until his 50s. I came up with, “hey, maybe you should try something besides just running.” So I challenged him. I said, “Hey, I’ll race you. Any race you want under a half marathon. If I beat you, you have to cross-train, 2 days a week.” I ended up winning. So now that I’m home and he’s retired, that’s our new focus.

What have you learned about yourself or your relationship?

Austin: I think the biggest thing is, relationships in general are always predicated on communication. She’ll ask me what my plan is for the night and I know that’s secret code for, ‘hey can I have a glass of wine and watch my trash television?’ If I’m not home that’s usually not a question, so I’m picking up on those things. 
Giancarlo: My wife is so great. We’ve always been really good together and rarely have any serious disagreements. A lot of it comes down to being so close with each other by the nature of what’s going on. You start to notice a lot of different ticks with each other and getting comfortable with letting things go. 
Denise: Communicating about our day has really helped. Like, hey, this is what’s going on at this time, I’m doing this, I need you to be quiet here, you can be loud here. That’s generally for the calls where we have to communicate, because in the beginning, we weren’t, so it was causing some issues and unnecessary stares.
Kevin: I find that I actually enjoy having more structure, more focus, more clarity. I think that I would thrive in chaos and I got comfortable with it. But now, I find that I actually enjoy having more structure to my day. So, it means that anxiety, you know, exercise is great, but for me it's more about getting back to certain hobbies that I lost touch with. 

What have been your biggest challenges or hurdles? 

Austin: It’s more the day. We have no childcare and we have full time jobs and how do we balance that? It’s a lot. It’s from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed, you’re on. The reality is there really is no pausing when you have a 1 ½ year old. It’s easy to take childcare services for granted and now more than ever, you realize it’s such an amazing service now that we’re doing it throughout the day.
Giancarlo: Things at home are tough. I feel like there’s only so much bandwidth and it’s now needing to be split between work and being a father and a husband. I feel like I’m doing all of those things at like 50% or less effort. Just juggling those three things and all the other balls in life, is becoming harder and harder. That’s why I’ve become a drone to the routine and schedule and trying to optimize the schedule because it’s the only thing I can think of that is keeping me afloat and treading water here.
Denise: It’s honestly more on my end than Ashley’s. I have to be better at communicating because my days move around a lot more than hers. So yeah just making sure that we don't assume. I think whenever you assume, you just you run into awful issues that are just so avoidable by having the conversation.  

What are you doing to stay active?

Austin: I’m fortunate that I can switch it up: I have a rower, skier, a bike. Pretty much anything you’d see in a CrossFit gym. But honestly, I don’t like lifting weights at 5am, so I just start with running or machine work. You really don’t need a lot of weight, if anything at all. For a lot of people just moving your body is going to deliver a pretty beautiful response. 
Giancarlo: It’s usually how I start my workouts in the morning. It’s not easy to jump into something that’s high intensity, so I usually do a couple of warm up rounds. This morning I did four rounds of 25 sit ups and 25 good mornings. Super low key. Then the blood was flowing. Then I did a minute of max burpees and 10-minute AMRAP. So, the biggest thing is to just get moving.
Kaitlyn: We live in an apartment building that is a block long and it has eleven floors. One of the workouts Sean had done in the state police academy was on rainy days they would run the entire building. So, on rainy days we now start on the bottom floor and we run up the first flight of stairs, run the block to the other set of stairs, up the next set of stairs. We do eleven floors up and eleven down. So that’s been a random thing we’ve done. It’s a good workout!
Denise: I coach on a Monday and a Friday at noon live down in the basement. We have lights and a nice camera so it’s almost like a studio down there now. Ash actually created this group called the 5:15 quarantine group so she’ll get online with all her friends and they’ll do workouts.  
Kevin: Giancarlo and I, we do this internal weekly challenge. So there's three different teams and so any Reebok employees that want to participate can go out of two different movements at the end of one week. And then next week - the winner - that's what we’ll end up doing and then accumulate. So, this week is burpees.

When Working Out from Home Doesn’t Always Work Out

Giancarlo and his daughter Madalina:


What are the suggestions you have for partners that want to work out together? 

Austin: My gut feeling is don’t ever workout with your partner [laughs]. I think that’s step one, don’t force it.
Kaitlyn: Sometimes we do partner workouts. I made up little circuit stations in our apartment. I’ll roll out a yoga mat, so station one is planks and then plyometric squat jumps, then we have dumbbells and stuff and kettlebell swings over there, and I set a timer and we go through the six stations. I literally move all the furniture, set up different stations and say for the next 15 minutes it’s 2 minutes on and 30 seconds rest. It’s just trying to get as creative as you possibly can.

What have been some positives that have come out of being stuck at home? 

Austin: I think the beauty of the last few weeks is I think we as humans realize the increase of capabilities and scope that we actually have. This scenario won’t define us it will reveal us. This is an opportunity to reveal ourselves and see what we’re capable of and what we can do more of and I think that’s pretty special. 
Giancarlo: There are so many opportunities where the two of us are seeing our daughter do things for the first time. So that’s been really great. Focusing on those things and being grateful and realizing there’s a lot of good that’s coming from this in addition to the extra stresses around us. 
Kaitlyn: We try to give back any way we can to small businesses in the area. I believe in good karma so we try to help out any way we can.
Denise: We’ll plan date nights. We plan our weekends too where we make sure that we're not working between a certain time of day unless something is really pressing. Even though we’re working, it’s like, “well I don’t need to put makeup on or look presentable.” So we make an effort at least once a week where we’ll put jeans on, which is like a big day every time.
Kevin: I think one of the real positive things is having the opportunity the end of the day, to kind of just decompress. So, having two to three hours back, and having the control to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day has allowed more freedom to do stuff.

Have there been any standout funny moments you could share? 

Austin: Literally my daughter’s new obsession is when we go to the bathroom, she wants to sit on your lap. And it has to happen, or she’ll have a tantrum. So, I’ll be going to bathroom and she’s sitting on my lap and of course my wife comes in and takes a picture of it because it’s cute. I’m like I guess this is it, I’m going to the bathroom, my daughter is on my lap and my wife is taking a picture and it’s all completely normal. 
Giancarlo: There was a demo video I did where my daughter is standing nearby and she’s standing the same way I am, holding her hands at chest level like she’s presenting something. A lot of times she’ll say things, so she’ll repeat after she hears me. 
Denise: There was one time when we were working out together, I was trying to do burpees and every time I go to the ground the dog would step on me and I thought it was really cute. Ash was like “Stop that!” and I’m like “Oh leave her, it’s cute.” Then I realized I look back on the video because Ash didn’t say anything at the time, but [the dog] was humping me at the bottom of this burpee, so that was funny.
Kevin: My mom recently got into this comedy show. Whatever I'm doing I can hear at times her just roar with laughter. And my sisters are also big fans of the show so I will videotape her watching the show, without her knowing, and send it to my sisters. It’s a fun way for us to stay connected.

What helpful tips and tricks can you share to stay motivated to workout at home?

Austin: I think the biggest thing is consistency. I think consistency breeds discipline. I don’t think it’s easy to be disciplined without consistency. Like many other people I’ve worked harder than I have in my whole life because of this change. So, I’ll wake up exhausted but I tell myself I have no choice; I have to do it. I just start. By that I mean, workouts don’t need to be something that propel you to the next level of fitness making you fitter, faster, stronger… Sometimes it’s just checking the box. It doesn’t need to be a PR day, just a movement day. 
Giancarlo: For someone who is really down and out and feeling that they don’t have motivation, you just have to start with something. Maybe it’s not related to working out at all maybe it’s picking a low hanging fruit, like I’m going to get to bed 15 minutes earlier. I won’t snooze my alarm or eat a piece of fruit with every meal I have today. Wherever you can move the needle in a positive direction and build the momentum off of that. You need to have the spark in order to get moving.
Kaitlyn: I would say making yourself a priority is number one. If I’m starting to feel overwhelmed or stressed out, listening to myself and saying I can’t stare at the computer anymore so I’m going to go for a walk or take a minute to do something I enjoy is important and I’ll come back to it. Listening to yourself and doing something for yourself every day that makes you happy is so important.

What is your message to the fitness industry during this time?

Austin: There’s no sugar coating it, the fitness industry will be forever changed after this. A lot of these gyms are small and have closed. For fitness professionals it’s time to pivot, time to reinvent, to hustle. If you find yourself with more time, make use of it, offer yourself for zoom training, create a new business model that’s virtual. When we do get back to business in the new normal, gyms will be different, there will be size limits and things that will make the job market harder. So it’s asking how will you differentiate yourself from the rest. It’s the time to act not to sit back and watch. 

What music are you listening to while you work out?

Kevin: Back in grad school I looked into the effect of music on performance, and any comprehensive study that looked into it… It doesn't matter what the music is; it matters your connections. So if you are somebody who loves death metal, and you want to study for a test, listening to death metal might help you to perform better. So for me I found that listening to 90s music puts me in a better mood, and helps me to enjoy myself while I’m doing it because it is challenging to have fun working out alone. But when I'm listening to music that I really enjoy, that I have fond attachments to, makes it significantly easier. Check out Kevin's playlist below!

Training / June 2020
Danielle Rines, Reebok Editorial