The fitness industry in the Philippines has endured some of the harshest consequences of the pandemic, with most clubs closed and Instructors locked down since March 2020. Les Mills Asia Pacific caught up with Arnold Warren to find out how he coped and stayed strong with the relentless challenges that the pandemic created in his country.
Based in Manila, Arnold Warren has been teaching BODYJAM® for around 18 years and SH'BAM® for 10 years. He is also a Trainer and Presenter for these programs, and a professional dancer in the Philippines.
“The pandemic has been a very challenging time indeed. I actually felt like I lost my whole identity when the pandemic shut down all my source of livelihood: the fitness clubs, travelling and live shows. I couldn't even do my hobby – surfing - as the city was totally locked down, so it was impossible for me to leave the city. Luckily, I have neighbours who are also dancers, so during the strictest lockdowns we would come together and do dance classes in the garage. We did this regularly for months. We would take turns and lead the classes; some days we would do some jazz classes, other days ballet technique, and sometimes I would also lead dance fitness classes. It was a way for us to keep our body in tune with the discipline of dance, and it also helped us work on our fitness while the clubs were closed. Most importantly, it helped us get our minds off the negative effects of the lockdown by diverting our energy toward something we all love to do. Prayers and daily devotions also became a daily habit. Whenever my thoughts would go astray I’d turn to prayers to help change my perspective and remind myself that a higher being is watching over us.”
Throughout the closures, Arnold received many messages from members, asking when classes would resume and telling him they miss attending his classes at the gym.
“It was a clear message that what we do in the clubs (teaching classes) is something that people want to experience again, and that it creates a positive change in them. That alone was enough motivation for me to continue teaching as soon as we are allowed.”
For Arnold, heading back to the teaching stage, once it was permitted, required no decision. “Teaching makes me feel that I am serving my purpose. There is nothing else I would rather do than go back to teach my classes. It is the number one thing that makes me feel alive, and that I’m doing something good for my community.”
“My teaching ‘Why’ centres around being able to do what you love, and at the same time help others achieve their fitness goals while having so much fun.”
In his quest to be a dance ambassador, Arnold helps others find joy in dance by giving them an experience that they want to keep coming back for. “Dance plays a huge role in my life, and I want to share that with others. I want people to find something that they love to do, never let go of it and cherish every moment that they get to experience it. When people see that spark of joy in what they do, it creates a ripple effect that is infectious and it instantly makes others feel joyful too. Imagine a world full of joyful people! As group exercise Instructors we have the power to do this every time we teach. How can I pass by this kind of opportunity?”