THE challenges faced over the past four months have led to some new methods and ways of thinking.

None more so than in the world of health and fitness with gyms lying empty that has forced a change in approach.

The notion of a Zoom call may have been met with blank stares by most back in February, yet it has become an integral part of everyday life with the conference tool used for activities from family quizzes to work meetings.

It has also been greatly utilised by fitness instructors who have led their classes online, rather than in the traditional gym setting and five-time world handball champion Fiona Shannon has been leading the way with her own Bootcamps aimed at women in their 40s and over, plus teenagers, proving hugely popular and a major success.

Shannon World Fitness was set-up by the handball star to provide fitness and nutrition programmes and whilst faced with major challenges initially, moving her classes online was the natural step.

“It’s been flat-out over the past few months,” said Fiona.

“I was doing a bit of personal training from home but I’d never done anything online before. With lockdown, I just grabbed the bull by the horns and gave it a go. 

“I came up with the concept of over 40s and put it out to women and the demand was there.

“We just finished our first 40-day Bootcamp and it went well as it seemed to suit everybody who had kids at home.

“It can be hard to get the time and motivation for training, but I put the onus on them and the buy-in was really good. Everybody seemed to click and motivated each other through a Whatsapp group and private video messages.

“I’ve had a few saying they really enjoyed it and that it will be the new way of doing things going forward because as mothers, they can just roll out of bed, get the workout done and into their own shower. It’s much more convenient and saves time with so much else to do.”

With work from home now an engrained feature for many, the behavioural changes will see new ways of working and indeed, exercising, becoming more mainstream.

Fiona made several presentations after the end of her first Tribe 40 bootcamp that was completred through Zoom
Fiona made several presentations after the end of her first Tribe 40 bootcamp that was completred through Zoom

Exercising at home can be an extra challenge in the absence of fellow participants for motivation, so by running most of the Tribe40, 40-day Bootcamp on Zoom, it afforded that element of camaraderie that is important to many.

There were four Zoom classes per week (three in morning and one evening) but there was also the onus put on each participant to complete 10,000 steps per day, with the results posted to group chats.

“It was initially due to be two mornings and two evenings at 7am and 7pm but turning into just one evening as sticking to the mornings suited more,” Fiona explained.

“Some hadn’t seen that time of the morning before, but once they got into the swing of it and the kids may still have been in bed, but the day was all ahead of them and all seemed to love it. Going forward, I think that is the way to go.

“I’m a morning person anyway and always find I have more energy then so I was delighted to get that system going.”

As well as the Tribe40 camp, there was a programme set up for boys and girls aged 11-16 with those classes tailored to their needs with nutritional advice provided and again, this proved hugely popular over the past few months.

“I ran those at 11am on a Monday and Wednesday as any earlier didn’t work for them, but again it all worked really well over the three months,” the West Belfast native continued.

“We got a few more every month I ran it. The great thing with the teens was introducing the importance of nutrition as well. On the Friday, they had to do the workout on their own after I posted it up, so they had that bit of accountability too.”

The results across the board were impressive, with the testimonials from participants reflecting as much.

“When I decided to join Tribe 40 I wasn’t sure if I could manage the workouts never mind change my eating habits,” one read.

“Having trained with Fiona before I knew that the workouts would be professional, varied and would push me to my absolute limit and she didn’t disappoint.

“The girls have been so supportive. Posting recipes and ideas and we are all in agreement on how tough and amazing Fiona’s Zoom workouts have been (albeit whilst we are lying on the floor sweat pouring out of us).”

“I was unsure about the Tribe 40 programme, I had never trained with Fiona or used an online training programme before - 14lbs and 14inches lost and counting,” read another.

“I was stuck in a rut with no interest or motivation to make a change. Fiona has been an excellent trainer and motivator supporting us every step of the way with nutrition advice also helping me believe I could do it, as have all the other girls, making me feel part of a tribe.”

The final day of the Bootcamp took place last Friday as the group made the trek up Black Mountain, meaning it was the first time many had met each other.

However, having embarked on their 40-day journey online through exercise, sharing healthy food recipes and general online support, it was far from a case of the group being strangers to one another.

There were a few awards handed out at the group finished their journey, but the new habits and way of taking part in exercise may have opened the door to further developments with Fiona admitting she has also had to learn new methods including the use of social media to draw participants in for her next series of Bootcamps for Shannon World Fitness she hopes to expand going forward.

A lot who were involved had never met but I would have run a Zoom chat on a Wednesday with everyone so they could have a chat about how it was all going for them so that’s how they first got chatting,” she added.

“I think that created a bond as everyone motivated each other, so when we met out for the walk up Black Mountain it was like everyone knew each other for a long time and that was a nice way to finish it.

“Last week I opened it up to invite one person into the Zoom classes, maybe to people who may not have had the confidence to take part in something like this but it has been a great success and loads came back saying they’d like to get involved in the next camp.

“The Zoom thing is great as you can have as many people as you like and again, having kids at home is great as it is so convenient. I have one with a disability and it’s been tough on her over the last few years so being able to do all this from home has been excellent.”