Being a personal trainer and/or fitness instructor requires getting up close and personal. There are the after-class questions, the position correcting during boot camp, the enthusiastic students who won’t let even flu symptoms stop them from getting to indoor cycle class…and taking the front-row bike directly facing the instructor, (add your own experience here). Like many jobs, this one comes with exposure to viruses, and it’s important to remember to watch over your immune health, especially during the winter season.

While the close proximity will likely continue, here are a few fast ways we fitness instructors/trainers/enthusiasts can better protect ourselves.

Hand washing is still king, and especially after handling different equipment. Wiping down weights would be a great addition to hand washing, but in the middle of a session, you may or may not be comfortable taking the time to wipe down each hand weight. If that’s the case, wash your hands as often as you can, and keep your hands out of your face. If your nose starts itching, wait it out. It won’t kill you. Hands out of your face!

Rest and recovery can go a long way toward maintaining a good, strong immune system. We love exercise. That’s why we do what we do. But there is a line that can be crossed. Exercise can help or hurt the immune system depending on training intensity and duration. High-intensity training combined with inadequate rest can definitely make us feel hardcore, but could also leave us more susceptible to viruses and illness.

If necessary and possible, reposition your place in class when faced, literally, with an obviously sick student. Since viruses spread through microscopic particles let loose in droplets from coughs and sneezes and just speaking, not being in the line of fire can save your health.

I know some personal trainers who step back from clients who are sneezing and coughing, but unless your last name is Bolt, you may not be able to outrun those droplets. For really ill, yet admirably motivated, clients, consider rescheduling the session. This can keep other clients from insisting on a reschedule when they arrive for their appointment to find you barely able to stand and breathing through your mouth. Or you can wear a mask (as long as you aren’t participating in the actual workout!) and explain that with a full client roster you need to take precautions against becoming ill. A sneezing, and reasonable, person will understand.

Unfortunately, you can do everything right and still come up sick. It happens. However, your vigilance and commitment to protecting yourself can help you not be sick so often, and that’s great news.

What tips do you have for your fellow trainers on staying healthy this winter? Drop us a line in the comments section below! Stay healthy

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.