Rima Sidhu (Photo: Daniel Garcia)
Nearly everything seems to be closing everywhere because of the coronavirus pandemic, and for those places remaining open—except, perhaps, for packed grocery stores—attendance is way down.
Indeed, one gym in New York City reported that on a day last week when an average of 1,000 members would be expected, half that showed up.
On the other hand, when one superbly fit female put up a remarkable exercise routine on a timely Danish coronavirus Facebook page, working out in her comfortably carpeted living room using four rolls of toilet paper as functional training equipment (“since 90 percent of Denmark bought one ton of toilet paper yesterday!”), it tallied 7.2 million views in two days.
There are many other workout videos, of course, but New York personal trainer Rima Sidhu has come up with a different at-home solution to staying active—and healthy—during the current coronavirus crisis.
In an email to her clientele titled “Exercise is Medicine,” Sidhu offered a “remote training” program via FaceTime and like applications for clients choosing to stay home, but seeking to maintain or increase their fitness levels.
“I originally had the fleeting idea for remote training sessions late last year, when one of my clients became so busy with work that the only way possible to train her would have been through FaceTime,” says Sidhu. “I didn’t really pursue it then, but now, with so people being told to work from home--and because of the uncertainty of exactly how this situation will unfold--I thought it was the right time to start offering this service: It might be a viable--and preferable option--for many people.”
So now, by employing a video phone app, Sidhu is able to provide both instruction and feedback in real time.
“I can use verbal cues to ensure their form is correct, and guide them through exercises. It’s just as I train them in-person--except now there’s a screen between us.”
And she stresses that exercise equipment is not necessary.
“Optimally they have a yoga mat and a kettle bell, or a few small weights,” says Sidhu. “But I’ve trained people without using any equipment, giving them a thorough and rigorous workout.”
Sidhu, who trains clients at their homes and apartment building gyms as well as outdoors, generally works out of Five Points Academy, the Chinatown gym famed for its Muay Thai kickboxing program. Herself a retired amateur and professional Muay Thai fighter, she is a former WKA (World Kickboxing Association) USA Muay Thai National Champion and WKA World Championship silver medalist, and a member of Team USA at the 2006 IFMA (International Federation of Muaythai Associations) World Championships in Thailand.
Additionally, Sidhu has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and nutrition from Columbia University, and is a certified personal trainer and hardstyle kettlebell instructor. A specialist in bodyweight strength, she is also certified in PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) Stretch and Functional Movement Systems (FMS) I and II, and is a Primal Move instructor and an assistant instructor in the Muay Thai International Association.
A child of immigrants, whose first and last names respectively represent her Lebanese and Indian parentage, Sidhu, who is also part Greek, understands the challenges faced by people of different backgrounds. She also comes from a family of doctors, and applies her deep knowledge of the workings of the human body to her coaching.
But on her Empowered by Strength website, Sidhu cites the more recent influence of her daughter. Now eight-and-a-half, she told her mom, when she was five-years-old, “Mama, you’re my superhero!”
“I wanted to freeze that moment,” Sidhu says on the site, “for isn’t this how all parents wish to be seen, through the eyes of our children? From that moment, I knew that I didn’t just want to watch my daughter fly through her youth, I wanted to participate in it!”
Mother and daugther play together all the time, Sidhu adds, “from kicking the soccer ball, to our years-long tradition of racing home after dinner at our favorite restaurant. I don’t always need to win these races, but I always need to compete. I strive to consistently be an active player in my child’s life, ready to participate in anything and everything she may throw at me. Although Wonder Woman I am not, I will continue to be inspired by my daughter to be my best self. My desire is to empower all women to feel their best, and to be active players in their unique lives.”
But Sidhu, an athlete from a young age, does not limit her outreach to women only. In fact, she also credits her daughter, not only for motivating her to achieve “a whole new level” of fitness for her own health, “but also to serve as a good role model for my child, and to be strong and fit enough to engage with her on all levels.”
And after noticing that her daughter “wasn’t the only one getting older,” Sidhu has also geared her coaching to benefit “clients who are invested in their health, and struggle with normal age-related challenges, to feel good in their bodies.”
So she proposes personal training “training to help you feel your best, while doing what you love--at any age.”
“I will continue to meet with and train my clients if they are feeling well--as usual,” she concluded in her email. “I will also train people outdoors, should that be one’s preference. Despite being limited in certain ways at this time, we can still take charge of our health. If you can work from home, you can train from home. There is always a way.”
Incidentally, the symbol in the upper left corner of the photo at the top is a Greek symbol of strength—and Sidhu’s logo.
Rima Sidhu's "Empowered by Strength" mission