CAVE CREEK, AZ — A Valley fitness trainer faced with several challenges says he “needed to get up and needed to get busy” to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The only thing you can do is pivot,” Sean Land told ABC15. “You need to look at what skills you have, you need to look at who’s in your network and how [you can] make it through this.”
Nearly a year ago, Land said he and his fiancee — who also worked as a trainer and in the hospitality industry — were celebrating their engagement in Mexico when the severity of COVID-19 became more apparent.
“We’re sitting in the airport and we look up at the TVs… and it says America is completely locked down,” he said. “Thankfully we still got home but when we came home, we came home to no jobs.”
Land had been working as an instructor at another fitness chain. He said he spent “maybe one day” feeling sorry for himself but, with help and encouragement from his fiancee, started brainstorming other ideas to earn income. After a suggestion from a client, Land started organizing group workout classes in local parks and spreading the word through his large social media following.
“We actually had one boot camp where we had 78 people show up,” he said. “We spread them out on four different fields … we did 15-minute rotations and I would rotate them with my car horn.”
Eventually, in November, Land decided to purchase an existing gym near Cave Creek and Lone Mountain roads and open for business despite strict capacity and health and safety restrictions.
“One of the members, when they first met me here … they said, 'you must be crazy!' No, I'm not crazy, I'm just highly motivated to make this work.”
The gym, Land of Fitness, has grown to around 900 members. Land said he invested thousands of dollars in HEPA air filtration systems, hand sanitizing stations and all members are required to wear masks.
While he understands some may not feel comfortable returning to a gym just yet, he believes working out — no matter how or where — is more important now than ever.
“Take care of your mind, take care of your body [and] stay sharp,” he said. “This is a passion I’ve always done and I love sharing it with everybody else.”