Tackett’s Mill has been the home to the private personal training facility AIM Human Performance (AIM) for the past several years but dealing with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have led owners Michelle and Chris Viggiano to rethink how best to serve their clients in a virtual world.
The wife-husband team have combined decades of experience and their ongoing commitment to more than 100 hours of continuing education per year allows them to deliver a personal training experience in a setting that is quite unique.
"We like to say that our approach is scientific method meets personal training," says Chris. “We have you walk us through your challenges, and we build off that. Then we develop a hypothesis, test it, and then follow up with ‘Tell me a story. How did that feel?’ That leads us to a measure for whether we are seeing progress. If it’s not working, then we try something different.”
With their commonsense approach, Chris and Michelle focus on individuals' goals:
- What are they trying to achieve?
- Do they want to increase their range of motion in their knees?
- Do they want to be able to pick up their grandchildren?
- Are they finishing up with physical therapy and are unsure what to do next?
Focusing on their goals leads to developing a customized workout.
"So often, exercise becomes mindless,” says Michelle. “Many of our clients are older, so keeping their minds healthy and focused is just as important as keeping their bodies healthy.”
By measuring different factors, such as duration, weight, time, and having a lot of back-and-forth communication, Michelle and Chris work to make sure each person is mindful of the exercise that they are doing. Through their varied experiences—Chris has a background in martial arts and Michelle has a background in Pilates and dance—they know the importance of the journey. Achieving a goal is one measure of success, but another critical component is maintaining the healthy level a client achieves.
They have had many of their clients for several years. But when the challenges of the pandemic prevented them from working one-on-one in-person for several months, the Viggianos knew that they needed to offer new ways for their clients to continue their individual journeys.
In 2020, they read about the small business micro-grants that Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development (PWCDED) was offering, so they reached out to Clarice Grove, PWCDED’s Small Business Development Manager, to learn more.
"One thing I learned during COVID is that filling out paperwork is my superpower,” says Chris. "And we also learned that once you have a great resource, you can really get far. Clarice was that resource for us."
The Viggianos knew that they needed to up AIM’s online offerings to be able to help their clients achieve their goals and maintain their healthy habits. Once they received the grant money, they were able to offer a Zoom on-demand platform with more than 200 classes, as well as to set up an app scheduler for clients to report on their homework and continue with their accountability.
"Teaching our clients remotely involved a lot of creativity,” says Michelle. “Each client had different needs and different equipment at home to work with. We needed them to be safe, but the exercises still needed to be effective. We had to MacGyver our way through many personal training sessions, whether it involved talking clients through how to set up their cameras, finding a household object of the correct weight, or helping clients become comfortable with the technology.”
Then they started offering private access to the gym facility, so clients could work out using the facilities 30+ strength-training equipment but remain safe. They could offer that through the app scheduler as well.
Chris and Michelle have chosen to call the Prince William County community home, and they look forward to returning to some of their community-based classes, such as women’s self-defense classes or boxing classes for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
“The results we see [in class] are immediate in many cases, and the boost in their self-confidence is tremendous.”
Located at 2218 Tackett's Mill Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22192