Missing the court | Professional Fitness Coaches share how they cope up with long lull from sports, thoughts on fitness and health during ECQ [Part 1]


By John Mark Herrera - Published May 7, 2020

The NBA playoff would've been in its deep stages, the UAAP and NCAA volleyball tournaments, along with other collegiate sports would have concluded or be deep in their respective seasons while the PBA could have seen its most competitive Philippine Cup, had none of these annual sporting events got cancelled. It is day 53 of zero sports played and we, the fans, are missing it as much as the players do.

The amount of preparations that athletes put in their off-season daily workouts, the hours watching tapes of themselves playing - to see how they can get better, getting to practice with their team, and playing in the actual games, have all been put on hold since the implementation of lock downs all around the globe.

But when you talk about preparation, you can't leave out the people who help sports superstars get to the peak of their game. One of the unseen work being put in together with these athletes' hard work, are the efforts of professional fitness coaches, who study and train just as much, if not more than their clients.

For the first article of this series, we picked the minds and gathered perspectives from some of the prolific professional fitness coaches, who also play in recreational basketball leagues, while some are members of successful sports programs in the country.

First on the list is Justin Aquino, who was a member of the multi-titled Petiks Express ball club, playing in many Kings of the Court tournaments in the past. One his most famous clients are the phenom couple, Kiefer Ravena of the NLEX Road Warriors and Alyssa Valdez of the Creamline Cool Smashers. Just as he was preparing for leagues he's about to join, together with his clients' leagues, supposedly scheduled March to May of this year, Aquino received the news of cancellations, while their preparations were already at its peak.

"When I heard the news about it. The first thing that came into my mind was my athletes kasi sayang yung ongoing preparation namin during the off season so we really had to change our game plan." Aquino shared.

"Luckily I don't have any ongoing leagues before the suspension but I was looking forward and really preparing for my upcoming leagues. That was supposed to be on April/May." on playing in leagues during the summer time.

Given that he had to basically re-do his plans for his clients, Aquino made sure to create a plan b for him and the athletes training under his watch.

"During the early times of the ECQ wala pa kong equipment so mostly it's all body weight training. I just tried to do as much as I can kung ano lang meron ako. When it comes to my clients, first thing we had to consider was if may equipment ba sila? or how much space do they have? Then from there I construct their workout program based on their personal goals. So basically I just try to keep my clients "functionally" strong in the 6 basics movement patterns which is (push,pull,hinge,squat, lunge,carry) so yan mostly laman ng mga workout programs sila spread throughout a week/month."

"Additional nalang if athlete client ko we make sure we do their plyometrics or even do twice a day training. Kasi sanay sila dati na may team practice sila then minsan may weights pa before or after. So when ECQ happened wala yun lahat so magiging mahirap, plus delikado for the athlete pag bumalik sila sa sport nila ng walang preparation."

During this long, unexpected lull, fitness and health has been at the top of almost every person's list as this will help prevent any kind of disease to enter their body, most especially in this time of health crisis. Workout programs, different kinds of diets, and other means of keeping one's self fit and healthy, have rapidly taken over social media by way of 'instant' health coaches popping out of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other apps that are within reach.

While coaches such as coach Justin Aquino, approves the idea of people being more aware of the importance of exercising and eating right, he bared that getting the right person to help you stay healthy and fit, is still the way to go.

"When it comes to 'fitness influencers' I really don't mind kasi actually it's good lalo na during these times they use their platform they use their influence to make people get up and work on themselves. Lalo na ngayon lahat ng tao ang daming time so everyone is just sharing so much information about fitness and even nutrition. The only thing that puts me off is when they spread false information about fitness & nutrition kasi ang hirap mag educate and re-educate kung bakit for example 'Hindi nga totoo ung sinabi ni ganito ganyan or kung bakit case to case basis naman ung strategy na yan it doesn't work for everybody' " he explained.

But for him, quality, experience, and continuously learning beat instant, stagnant knowledge, any day.

"For me naman I should take responsibility na hindi dapat ako magpapatalo sa mga 'influencers' I should expand my craft, I should continue to educate myself, learn how to package myself. In other words dahil nandito na tayo sa 'New Norm', so kami rin dapat mga trainers should evolve and find new ways to make an impact sa mga clients/athletes namin."

"We studied about this and we're stilll studying about this so dapat we should take pride in what we do and continue to work. If you do your part as a coach, hindi ka naman mawawalan ng mga clients, kasi at the end of the day if nararamdaman nila na you care for the results that you bring and sasamahan mo sila sa fitness journey nila, they will not leave you." he added.

Improving day-by-day, this is what the journey to being fit is all about. And so Coach Justin has a short but meaningful message to everyone out there, who are looking to come out better after this crisis.

"ECQ is tough. It's normal to lose inspiration during these times but if you come out of this better/fitter or healthier it's already a big win! Try to move as much as you can and invest in your health. There is a lot of information and even free workouts out there all you need to do is GET UP AND DO IT."

More information on coach Justin:

Justin S. Aquino, XPS, Pn-1 B.S. Sports Science - University of Sto. Tomas // Precision Nutrition Level 1 // EXOS - Certified Performance Specialist // Former Head Performance Coach at PhenomElite Training Academy, Bacolod City

IG: @justin.aquino

E-mail: justin_aquino94@yahoo.com

The message that Coach Justin mentioned has the same depths as fellow fitness professional and a basketball enthusiast who plays in recreational leagues as well, Coach Jose Miguel Gemora. In fact, coach Gemora is the captain of team Born Ballers in the ongoing KOTC Q1 2020 Inter Pick-Up League, and even played a game right before the ECQ was imposed.

For him, personally, home workouts have many factors that need to be considered before starting one.

"Well, there are a lot of free workouts on the internet now so if you think about it, it should be easy to squeeze in a workout but because of what’s happening, medyo mahirap because of anxiety, among other factors.

So my goal at the start is just to be active most of the time, i walk around, stand, iniiwasan kong umupo kagad or humiga buong araw and gradually increased my activity by doing bodyweight exercises to kettlebell exercises. I’m lucky kasi may gamit na ako beforehand and i know what to do but honestly I keep in mind that consistency is still better than intensity. Look for activities na gusto mong ginagwa and sakto sa situation mo now."

On the topic of social media workouts being the "it" thing during this season, coach Gemora also shared his thoughts on the steps that fitness professionals are taking to further educate the people about this.

"Most fitness professionals I know are shy and focused more on studying and improving their craft. As I have said in my IG post, being a fitness professional is no joke, it’s like being a doctor. The studies are evolving. Yung alam mo before pwedeng debunked na ngayon so you have to learn continuously. My call is for us not to stop educating the public. Because I believe malalaman ng tao kung sino yung willing talagang tumulong sa hindi. Maweweed out yung mga nasa industry lang because of fame and money. Like any other industry, fitness professionals are shifting to online platforms and it’s not going to be easy, it will really take time. But let us use that time to continually hone our craft and market ourselves more. Be out there, post educational content and tips."

On his message to the public, coach Gemora echoed Coach Justin's perspectives.

"For the public, be critical on who you follow. Of course we want to follow good looking people but for advices and tips look for credible people with real fitness results and backed by scientific approach/solutions. Parang sa Doctor yan, it is okay to go to a general practitioner for general problems but you would want a specialist for specific problems you have. So educated fitness professionals are your specialist."

More information on Coach Jose:

Jose Miguel C. Gemora Sports Science UP Diliman // NSCA CSCS (National Strength and Conditioning Association, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) // CFSC (Certified Functional Strength Coach) // EXOS XPS (Performance specialist) // Nike Training Club Coach (NTC) // PCC (progressive calisthenics coach) // Fitness Director, 360 Fit Teams Partner, 360 Fit Teams

FB page: Coach Jose Gemora

IG: @josegemora

When you talk about passion for sports, these well-educated, coaches are up there, as they dedicated years of non-stop learning and adjustments to new ways of passing down the right knowledge about fitness and nutrition - which in turn would be beneficial for an athlete's conditioning. These unsung heroes help famous sports men and women to stay on top of their game.

But to become the best version of yourself, the right people must surround you to serve as the water which will be poured to you, likened to a plant bound for growth. This is what these professional fitness coaches do, and they'll do it regardless of the times.




Photos from Coaches Justin Aquino and Jose Gemora's Facebook accounts