How to do bodyweight squat right and where to start

“Meet Mr. Squat, the father of all exercises.” – Andrey Pilipets
A squat is an interesting exercise. Ask anyone ‘Do you know how to do a body-weight squat?’ and the answer is always ‘Yes’. Does it mean everyone know how to squat right? Well, let’s just say that squat is the first movement I teach all my new students.

My squat story is the one of Mayou, one of my students in Vietnam. Mayou is a cheerful British schoolteacher who loves good food, wine and shopping. Especially shopping. And a lot of small shops in Vietnam are located upstairs so you have to climb a staircase to get inside. Before we started our classes Mayou required other person’s help to visit such shops. I had to start our squats from putting a gym ball in a corner, sitting Mayou down on it, getting her to the right position and standing back up. Soon she was able to perform a regular squat. More importantly, in a couple of months she happily told me that the day before she went to one of her favourite shops and out of a sudden she could climb the stairs up and down all by herself. A small investment of time and money resulted in a huge change of her quality of life. Thank you Mayou for this wonderful experience.

“Your squat is the foundation of your healthy body.” – Andrey Pilipets
The squat is such a basic movement that you need it for almost everything. Metabolism, strength, posture, blood circulation, lower back, flexibility – the list of things that squat is great for can go on forever. Once you get the squat’s technique right, you open yourself up to a world of movements.

How to squat right

“The squat is the perfect analogy for life. It’s about standing back up after something heavy takes you down.” – Unknown
Let’s get your squat technique ready while standing, in four simple steps:
Step 1. Tie an imaginary belt (suck your tummy in).
Step 2. Put your shoulder blades together and look in front of you.
Step 3. Focus on your heels, imagine pressing them into the floor.
Step 4. Sit back as if you would on a toilet seat
The result should be visible in the lowest position – a straight back and your knees in a green or at least yellow zone. When your knees stay right above your heels, you’re in the green zone and you’re doing great. If your knees move forward during your squat but don’t go out beyond your toes, you’re in the yellow zone. Focus on pressing your heels into the floor and sitting back.

Once you see your knees going forward beyond your toes, you’re in the red zone and need to adjust immediately – reduce the depth of your squat or switch to easier squat options. Now that you know the perfect form, move to where you’re going to squat.

Where to start

“Don’t have $100.00 shoes and a 10 cent Squat.” – Louie Simmons
I have put down 5 levels for you to start from ground zero. I highly recommend everyone to start from Level 1 to make sure you get your squat technique correct first.

Level 1. Chair squat. Sit down on a chair like you always do. Move your feet forward until your legs are perpendicular to the floor. That’s the green zone you can read above. Open your arms to put your shoulder blades together and look in front of you. Tie your imaginary belt to engage your core muscles. Lock your knees and stand up. Sit back on the chair. Do your chair squat to make sure you get your technique right. Get to the regular squat as soon as the chair squat feels easy.

Level 2. Regular squat. Same as the chair squat but no chair this time. Keep behaving like the chair is still there though. I have trained 300 people in 9 years and no one ever fell back doing a squat before. Just press your heels into the floor and sit back. Go as deep as possible. As you get more confident, lower your squat depth until your quads are parallel to the floor. Once you’re good there, move onto the next level. If you have knee issues, please stay on this level as the next levels put more pressure on your knees.

Level 3. Split squat aka stationary lunge. Only try this level if your knees can take it. Put one leg in front of the other. Try to put your back knee down. Use your phone, side mirror or ask someone to watch your front knee from the side. If your front knee goes out of the green zone, step your front leg further forward until you get the right distance. Please remember to change legs after several reps. Get to the next level as soon as it’s easy for you.

Level 4. Squat Kneel Down Up to Feet. What was I trying to say by that? Do a regular squat and reach the lowest position. Now put one knee on the floor right where your heel was. Follow up by the other knee. Bring the first knee back up. Then the other one. Stand up from the squat position. Keep your knees in the green zone all the time. Remember to switch legs. Move to the next level once it’s easy.

Level 5. Bulgarian squat. This big brother of split squat challenges your balance way more. You have to put your back foot on an elevation such as a chair or a sofa. Adjust to the right distance and put the back knee down almost touching the floor.
Be safe and keep progressing. Good luck!

Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

How to train your eyes and why you need it – Video included

Why you need to train your eyes

“No one can hit their target with their eyes closed” – Paulo Coelho

The first time I encountered eye training was in 1992 when a world-class health guru Mirzakarim Norbekov had a public session in my home town. He showed us simple eye exercises to prevent your eyesight from degrading and, for some really dedicated people, even improve it. Guess what, almost 30 years down the road, my eyesight is still healthy despite all the life challenges behind.

How many hours a day do you spend looking at screens? Or rather, how many hours a day do you spend NOT looking at various screens? Most of us work by looking at computer and smartphone screens. Once you finish your working hours, you rest by looking at more screens – TV, computer, smartphone. Your eyes are used to see the world through a limited rectangle shape, even if you have a perfect eyesight. ‘Computer eye strain’ or ‘digital eye strain’ has numerous consequences for your health. I strongly believe that eye exercises are a necessity for most people who want to improve their quality of life.

How to train your eyes

“Everyone has two eyes but no one has the same view” – Vishal Ahlawat

Eye exercises are really simple.

  • Look up-down
  • Left-right
  • Diagonally
  • Circle in both directions.

Repeat 10 times each. You’re not going to break sweat doing this workout. Yet this is one of those simple things that produce a huge change. Just aim to take a 5 minutes break for your eyes every hour you spend looking at the screen. Whatever you do, could be done faster this way. Alarm clock helps most people to improve timing. Might be a good idea to stretch a little and, of course, do eye exercises. Please watch my instructional video on YouTube. Good luck !

Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

How to train your voice and why you need it (Video included)

Why you need to train your voice

“The Human Voice is the most perfect instrument of all” –Arvo Pärt

Roman, the guy who muted my voice back in 2014

I used to compete a lot in the past (hope I still will). In one of BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) competitions back in October 2014, Roman, a very strong and athletic guy 1.5 times my weight choked me and won the fight. Once I got up I found that no one could hear me any more. I could talk but Roman pressed the mute button, bringing my volume to zero.

Since I worked as a personal trainer, that made my classes very challenging. Luckily all my students were very loyal and I didn’t have new ones coming in that following two weeks. My voice got back but I decided I need to bullet-proof it against such accidents. And no, stopping to compete was not in option as I was getting ready for the World Cup that following year.

Our vocal cords are delicate membranes that are easy to damage. At the same time they are muscles that need to stay active and in shape. Thanks to Roman submitting my vocal cords, I’ve been doing my voice training regularly for the last 6 years. I noticed an interesting side effect of it. Regular voice training reduces the risk of getting respiratory diseases. It also helps to deal with symptoms such as sore throat and runny nose if you still get one.

Do that voice training if your job involves talking or projecting your voice. Or you just want to be able to read a book to your kids for an hour. Or have a better shield against common cold and flu.

How to train your voice

“The voice is the muscle of the soul” – Alfred Wolfsohn

I’m going to give you very basic voice training exercises which I do myself. I use my voice 5-6 hours a day and find this 5-10 minutes a day training enough. You may need to train several times a day when you have symptoms such as sore throat or runny nose. Consistent training works great for your vocal cords. Sure there are dozens of voice exercises for professionals or people who want to make their voice more powerful. I just want to share this simple routine which works best for me with minimum time spent.

“Vocal exercises are the analogy of a runner who stretches before running a race.” –Roger Love

Exercise 1. Sceptic (Hmm-hmm). Purse your lips and keep your teeth unclenched. Simply do up-downs 10 times. Then make a wave, as long as you can, also 10 times.

Exercise 2. Horse (Brmm-brmm). Clench your teeth and push the air out through the lips. Again, do up-downs 10 times and waves, also 10 times

Exercise 3. ‘A’ vowel (Ah ahh). Pronounce ‘A’ vowel in a singing fashion. 10 up-downs and 10 waves.

Exercise 4. ‘O’ vowel (Oh ohh). Pronounce ‘A’ vowel in a singing fashion. 10 up-downs and 10 waves.

Exercise 5. ‘U’ vowel (Yoo yooh). Pronounce ‘U’ vowel in a singing fashion. 10 up-downs and 10 waves.

Please watch my instructional video on YouTube. A simple advice – keep your vocal cords wet. Drink enough room temperature water regularly. Try these simple daily exercises for keeping your voice strong and healthy. Good luck !

Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

How to Push-up right and where to start

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” – Jim Rohn

A trainer’s story is always the story of your students. I’m very blessed to be one of Janet’s trainers. This amazing Singaporean lady went through a real transformation in front of my eyes. She is one of the most hardcore students I’ve ever had. She used to work as a high flyer for an MNC and had to travel a lot back then. Once she was in US and challenged her local colleagues for 50 push-ups. She did it, and they didn’t. When I ask her what she felt she simply said “Oh, I just squeezed my core and did it. And these fat men…”. I was so proud of her. I still am.

How to do pushups right

“Life is like doing pushups. You cannot go up unless you PUSH yourself UP” – Jilla Manoj

Let’s get your pushup technique ready while standing, in four simple steps:

Step 1. Tie an imaginary belt (suck your tummy in).

Step 2. Squeeze your backside (clench your buttocks).

Step 3. Raise your straight hands in front of you until they are parallel to the floor.

Step 4. Move your head to look at the top of a triangle between your hands. The result should be a straight and stiff body, from head to heels. Feel your body as one piece,only your elbows can move. Stay in this position for a while to give your muscle memory sometime to work.Now that you know the perfect form, move to where you’re going to do your pushups.

Where to start

“There is no such thing as perfection, there are only standards.” – Jascha Heifetz

Everyone can do pushups. You just have to know where to start. One of my bootcamp students, Shruti, had to start her pushups from the wall. This phenomenal school teacher managed to lose 21 kg (46 pounds) in the first 7 months of our training (she’s training online with me now). Just set a standard to make your pushups doable. Once it gets easy, move to the next one. I have put down 5 levels for you to start from ground zero.

Level 1. The easiest option is wall pushups.

You just keep your body straight and stiff. Bend your elbows to lower your body. You don’t have to go all the way in straight away. Remember, your goal is to keep your body straight and stiff. Do your wall pushups for a while. As you get stronger, simply move to the next level.

Level 2. The next option is elevated pushups.

You start putting your hands lower than the wall.Use any elevated surface available table, bench, chair, sofa, stairs. Make sure whatever you use is stable. Again, just keep your body straight and stiff. Bend your elbows to lower your body. Go as deep as possible. Do this until it’s easy, then move to lower and lower surfaces, until you’re almost on the floor.

Level 3. Next one is knee pushups.

Let’s get on the floor or a mat. Put your knees down (on top of something soft like a pillow or folded clothes/mat if you have a hard floor). The rest of the body should still be straight and stiff. Slowly increase your depth until your chest touches the floor.

Level 4. Regular pushups.

Raise those knees off the floor to make your legs straight and do it. Again, start with just a little bit of depth and keep increasing it until your chest touches the floor.Move to the next level once it’s easy.

Level 5 and above. Put your feet higher than your hands.

Use resistance bands or weight. Do clapping pushups. Change the position of your hands. Limitless options here. Just be safe and keep progressing.

Good luck!Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

The dirty dozen of weight loss myths

Author: Andrey Pilipets – Date 10 Nov 2020 on 13 myths about weight loss including food, exercise & lifestyle myths.

“Fitness starts in your head. You just choose to eat clean, exercise regularly, and treat your body with respect.” – Anonymous

I was lucky enough, thanks to my parents, to spend my high school years at an experimental school. One of the things they managed to teach us is called “critical thinking”. To check any information you receive, separate facts from opinions, and always create your own opinion. Respect opinions of other people, without necessarily agreeing to them. In this article I want to share with you my opinion on most common myths about weight loss concerning food, exercise and lifestyle.

Food myths

“Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness” – Auguste Escoffier

Myth #1. You need to starve or skip meals
Truth. Starving or skipping meals puts your body into a stress mode. That easily leads to cravings and overeating once it’s over.
Solution. Regular meals bring you consistent long term results

Myth #2. It’s all about the number of calories.
Truth. What you eat is more important, as well as the balance between proteins, carbs and fats.
Solution. A well-balanced meal, rich in protein, with lots of fruits and veggies

Myth #3. Diet food options help with weight loss
Truth. A lot of ‘diet’ foods are junk marketed as healthy. Fat-free, low-fat, gluten-free, etc… all these are usually clear indicators that you are being victimized by marketers. They have to print what’s inside on the label though, so please read it.
Solution. It’s about how processed the food is. A fat-free piece of junk is still just a piece of junk.

Myth #4. Diet or sports drinks help with weight loss
Truth. Drinks are digested way better that the solid food. Most of these diet or sports beverages contain a lot of liquid sugar. Many of these drinks can get you addicted as well. People need to sell, it’s their job.
Solution. Just like 9000 years ago, plain water is still the best drink ever. Feel free to add a slice of lemon or lime for taste. Milk is an option for lactose-friendly people. Fruit juices which you make yourself (try to add honey instead of sugar, you sweet teeth). Tea and coffee are OK in moderation.

Myth #5. Fast food is always bad. You need to cook at home or eat ‘slow’ restaurant food 100% of the time.
Truth. Hey, even McDonald’s has healthy options now, notably in the salad menu.
Solution. Look for what you eat, not how fast/slow it is. Choose healthy options such as salads when fast food is your only available option. Still better than skipping meals.

Exercise myths

“Today I will love myself enough to exercise.” – Anonymous

Myth #6. You need to exercise a lot, like 2-3 hours a day 6-7 days a week
Truth. Leave that kind of routine to professional sportspeople. You can start with just 3 hours a week out of 168 hours of your weekly time. As you get fitter, you can increase that to 5-6 hours a week. Enough for most people. Too much exercise only leads to over training and injuries.

Solution. Make sure you keep the right pace when you work out. My students manage to exercise up to 32 minutes out of 40 minutes’ main exercise. It’s typical to see people in gyms exercising for a minute and then resting for 3-5-10 minutes, checking the phone, taking selfies and talking to other people. I once saw a guy in one of Singapore parks smoking a cigarette in-between his exercise rounds.

Myth #7. You just need to do a lot of cardio
Truth. Cardio is great and you need to do it, it’s just cardio alone is not enough and most types of cardio leave certain muscle groups unattended.

Solution. Combine cardio workouts with resistance training and watching your food for long-term effect.

Myth #8. Running is the best cardio
Truth. Running is definitely effective. You just have to consider the risks involved with running on hard surfaces (such as most roads). They have medical institutions that specialize on running injuries for a reason.

Solution. Run on soft surfaces (such as stadium rubber tracks, trails or grass) to be safe. Try running on sand or snow of you can. Feel free to consider different types of cardio, such as cycling, stair climbing, swimming, rowing or just brisk walking.

Myth #9. You need to lift weights

Truth. Weights are good yet tricky. They don’t suit some people for medical or constitution reasons (such as different arm length – happens more often than you think) and you need to buy weights or go to a gym to lift. Also, the risk of injuries is quite high. Some very strong people I
know got injured doing things like bench press without a spotter or a power rack.
Solution. You definitely do need resistance training. Lifting weights is just one part of it. You can also use body weight , train with partners and things like resistance bands. Check my article ‘5 things you can use to exercise at home’ for more information

Lifestyle myths

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” – Jim Rohn

Myth #10. Overweight/obese people are unhealthy, and normal weight/underweight people are healthy

Truth Yes, being overweight+ creates additional risks for your health. Yet skinny folks can be unhealthy as well. It’s all about the lifestyle.

Solution. Put your goal as becoming healthier every day. Getting your weight back to normal is a side effect of health.

Myth #11. You can lose weight very fast

Truth. Healthy weight loss rate is up to 4 kg/8.8 pounds a month. Even 1 kg loss a month is a good result – hey, that could be 12 kg in a year! Read how they cut weight in combat sports. Does it make any sense for 2 people who walk at 90 kg (200 pounds) to fight at 70 kg (155 pounds)?
Solution. Want a long-term weight loss? Pace yourself and take your time. Consistency is the key. Weight loss is a marathon rather than a sprint.

Myth #12. Just eat less and move more
Truth. A farmer is asking a mathematician: ‘How do I make my cow eat less and produce more milk?’ Mathematician: ‘Milk your cow more and feed it less’. Do you just tell people with depression to cheer up or alcoholics to drink less? A mathematician’s answer is absolutely right and absolutely useless here.
Solution. What and how you eat and exercise is important.

Myth #13. Weight loss diets work
Truth. That’s what marketing people say. Some diets work in short-term but most people gain the weight back once it’s over.
Solution. Forget about the dieting concept, it’s a short-term mindset. Aim to change your lifestyle permanently and become a healthier you, fitter you, happier you.

Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

Top 5 home-workout equipment

Written by Andrey Pilipets – 1 Nov 2020

This morning my wife showed me an article named something like “15 must-have things you need to exercise at home”. I checked it out of curiosity and it sent my eyebrows crawling towards the ceiling. The article features things like a treadmill which is hardly essential at home if you ask me. So I decided to come up with my own honest and affordable list of “5 things you can use to exercise at home”, which is presented for your attention here. Enjoy!

1. Exercise mat. This is the most useful tool ever. Absolutely essential for 99% of people doing exercises lying/sitting on the floor. Very useful if your floor/shoes/socks feel slippery – please be safe. Protects your hygiene standards from the floor, regardless of how clean your floor is. Protects the floor from your sweat as well. Super affordable, easy to get, easy to move around – I see people carrying these all the time. Just buy the one you like – on Amazon, Decathlon or a hypermarket around your hood.

2. Foam roller aka Fitbar. These are great stuff. While their main purpose is the self-massage of your muscle groups before or after your workout, I find it extremely useful for a wide range of exercises. For example, you throw it above your head and catch it. Failed? Nothing happens. Try the same thing with the lightest weight (0.5 kg/1 pound dumbbell, for example) and you get what I mean. Safe, useful for many things and affordable.

3. Small weights. Add a little bit of weight to your exercises and you would be surprised how much harder it gets. My favorites to start with are 0.5 kg/1 pound – be it dumbbells, ankle weights or just two bottles filled with water. Yes you will need two of these babies. I still remember people from my Singapore boot-camps trying to finish as much water from their bottles as possible during the first break, so that their next round is easier. A note about ankle weights – I find these very easy for your arms to hold. So I use it 9 times out of 10 for arms and only 1 time out of 10 for legs.

4. Tennis ball. Another great thing to use. Squeeze it, bounce against anything, throw, catch. Sports a lot of exercises to train your reflexes, coordination. Brand or no-name, buy it or pick it, it works anyway. The most affordable exercise tool ever, apart from water bottles.

5. Resistance band. Ok this is probably the first really serious exercise tool that sorts the buyers from the spyers. Widely known among fitness professionals and martial artists, resistance bands are tough to handle without putting all that pressure on your body that weights do. Love them for being safe and useful. Bands are generally harder to use for taller people. There is a number of good brands around. I find the O-shaped long ones the most useful.

Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

How to become an online personal trainer!

Author: Andrey Pilipets – Written date: 1 Nov 2020

“There is just news. There is no good or bad.” – Master Oogway

It’s early November, 2020 outside the window and the pandemic is still choking the world around. Covid-19, you’ve been a major game changer. A lot of people I know had to move to online space for work, education and, of course, training. For example, my 11 years old nephew living in Russia is learning English with a native speaker and destroying people in chess competitions online. It simply wasn’t possible when I was his age. Gym owners pull their hair out as more people now want to sweat safely at their home fortresses. More people want to become online personal trainers, as well. Please let me share with you my experience of becoming a full-time online personal trainer, spiced up by a bunch of Kung Fu Panda quotes. Enjoy!

-1. How I did it and why Kung Fu Panda quotes

“Your story may not have such a happy beginning but that does not make you who you are, it is the rest of it- who you choose to be” – Soothsayer

Twenty years ago, still working in a bank, I suddenly got a 10mm discus hernia in my lower back. My left leg was getting numb, excruciating pain around and doctor telling me to go for surgery or risk being paralyzed below the waist. Oh, and the same doctor told me not to exercise as it could make it worse. What would you do?

“You must believe!”- Master Oogway

It’s me 10 year apart, 2008 (130kg) vs 2018 (90kg)

I chose to use the most powerful muscle group in the human body, located right between the ears. I did some research and came up with an exercise routine to rebuild my lower back muscles. One year later MRI test showed my discus hernia going down to 3mm, and the same doctor was desperately trying to look cute with those big manga eyes. Another year, another test and it was completely gone. That made me believe in the power of exercise the first time. It took me 10 more years to change my lifestyle and transform from a 130kg (286 pounds) ‘Panda’ to a 90kg (200 pounds) personal trainer and a Jiu-Jitsu World Cup medalist ( Hope that can explain all that Kung Fu Panda quotes.

Worldcup BJJ @Abu Dhabi in 2016

The most obvious way to become an online personal trainer is to convert from an ‘offline’ personal trainer’. (you can check out my Facebook page here

“There are no accidents.”- Master Oogway

For those of you folks please feel free to jump straight to Section 3, ‘Technical issues’.

Another option is to become an online personal trainer from the scratch.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift… that’s why they call it present” – Master Oogway

0. Why become a trainer and what to do? First please try to answer a few questions for yourself.

“Your real strength comes from being the best you you can be. Who are you? What are you good at? What makes you, you?” – Kung Fu Panda, Poo

In other words, please make sure this is what you want to do and how exactly you want to train people. Bootcamp? Pilates? Yoga? What is your training style going to be? There are a lot of styles around – find the one that suits you. For me it’s mostly body weight exercises, High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT), BootCamp style. Minimum or no equipment, safe and easy to demo, a lot of sweat around. That style secured me an almost flawless transition from offline to online training.

My online personal training introduction video

1. Build up your knowledge base

“If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.” – Master Shifu

I believe that certification is the best option. I chose American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). It’s considered the gold standard worldwide and I have a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certificate. The test can be passed online and you can self-study to get ready for it. The other names in the Top-5 are ISSA, NASM, NSCA and ACE, so choose the one you like. There’s a great in-depth article about that. Why did I choose ACSM? The main reason is that it’s focused on corrective exercise, as a lot of people who employ personal trainers have some injuries or medical conditions. Another reason is that ACSM test has the lowest pass rate out of the big 5 which makes it the most difficult. Yes I know there are a lot of personal trainers around without any certification. You just have to realize that your actions as a trainer can injure people. Just to say, even nurses in medical profession have to study at least six years.

2. Practical experience

“Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend.” – Kung Fu Panda

Got your certification ready? Time to get some on-hand experience. The best way is to observe people who conduct training based on your chosen style and learn from them. For me the biggest inspiration ever was Sgt. Ken with his Bootcamp Instructor course. Learn to do the right things in a right way. The most important of them? You have to develop the feeling of how much intensity your client can take. That’s a fine balance when too little is not enough to provide a result and too much leads to an injury or over-training.

3. Technical issues

“You must let go of the illusion of control..”- Master Oogway

Which program to choose for your classes? I have tried a number of those over my years of training – Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Cisco WebEx and Zoom. It looks like there’s Zoom and there’s everything else.

Main points to resolve when you do online classes are to have a steady Internet connection, be seen and be heard. Get ready to secure all three and be happy to focus on the class. Otherwise things can and will fail and they always do it in a wrong time.

Me during my online bootcamp

– Internet connection. There’s a great website called Speedtest to check your Internet connection quality. I use a fixed one with the wire going into my house and a spare one. Mobile WiFi, they call it, from a different operator. Any Internet service might have breaks and you want your classes smooth as silk and uninterrupted. If I see my main Internet being unstable, it takes me just a few seconds to switch to the spare. A mobile WiFi works during a blackout as well. Speaking of blackouts, I also keep my laptop plugged in and fully charged. This way I have a full battery all the time and it could last a few hours. A 1-hour Zoom class voraciously eats about 1.2 Gb of traffic. Feel like it’s too much pressure for your Internet connection? Might be a good idea to ask your family or other people living under the same roof as you to refrain from heavy Internet usage during your classes – such as online games, video calls or watching video online.

– Be seen – I use a separate room in my house for classes. If that’s too much, at least get some clean space of 4-6 meters. Great if you can point your laptop’ camera away from the window. This way you can use some natural light when you have it. If you have to point the camera at the window, don’t let your classes turn into fifty shades of whatever and kindly use curtains. The light in the room is important. It should be strong and preferably white. Also, Zoom has a feature of adjusting to low light, which might be useful. Would be great if you can raise your hands overhead without hitting the light and breaking it all over you in the middle of your class. The best place for you to demo exercises is 2 meters from your laptop. I position my laptop at the chest level and adjust the angle to show standing or floor exercises. Just make a habit to check your video before the class – both in standing and floor positions.

– Be heard. The microphone settings are crucial. You need to boost your microphone to the max, both in your system and Zoom (uncheck the auto-adjustment in Zoom). Noise reduction and echo reduction options are also very useful. A Bluetooth headset might be a great help for you to hear and be heard. A big microphone helps as well, just put it somewhere between you and the camera. My son loves to sing into in whenever he can get to it. Always a good idea to test your audio in Zoom before the class starts.

4. Building your client base

“There is no secret ingredient”- Mr. Ping, Po’s father

Ok so you’re ready to train. You know where IT band is located, how to teach people to squat right and have a corner in your house ready to do your classes on the laptop. That’s only half the job, and the easier half. You need clients to be a trainer. Where to get them? The best clients ever come from word of mouth – that is, your happy clients talking about you to other people they know. However, your initial clients might be more challenging to get. Use whatever you can – social media, trainer platforms (anyone actually knows a good one?), physical gyms. Free trial is a must as it allows people to experience your training without any obligation. It’s like a viewing of the house – nobody rents or buys it based on a few photos. However, don’t offer to train people for free. Everyone I know who tried it failed. Once people train with you for a month for free they won’t pay you when you ask for money, regardless of the income group. Also, people tend to only value things they pay for. Remember, you want committed clients who can get results and recommend you further.

5. Do’s and don’ts

“Time is an illusion, there is only the now.” – Master Shifu


– Talk to your family or people you live with to let you work uninterrupted.

– Be there 30 minutes before your class. Have a ritual to check and charge your laptop, Speedtest your Internet connection, light, sound. Make sure everything works instead of hoping it works.

– Have a class plan written on a piece of paper in front of you.

– Focus on the class. People pay for your time and they want your full attention.

– Do a regular voice training (thank you SGT Ken for this one). Say bye to training people if you lose your voice.


 “We do not wash our pits in the pool of sacred tears” – Master Shifu

– Sneezing, coughing, farting sounds are really distracting on a boosted microphone. Learn how to quickly mute your microphone if things are about to happen.

– Yawning – drop it or at least do it when you’re not seen

– Phone checking – let it rest somewhere during the class or at least check it during breaks if you expect something urgent.

Online personal trainer is a powerful profession that helps people. It can be challenging but quite rewarding as well. Good luck to you if you decide to follow that path!

Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!

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