Before the coronavirus pandemic, fitness influencer Amanda Kloots had been meaning to start an online subscription service for her workout videos. But she never pulled the trigger.
“I just was at a point where I wanted it to be so perfect, and I was overanalyzing everything,” she told BuzzFeed News from her home in Los Angeles.
Of course, everything is different now. Like many fitness professionals all over the world, Amanda has had to figure out how to maintain her livelihood, teaching group fitness, and making online fitness content, while isolated in her home. So, she has pivoted, launching a subscription service for her videos while still posting video content and live workouts on her page.
“When all this went down, I was like, you know what? I’m just gonna launch it how it is because people need access right now to at-home workouts. I know I have a voice and I want to get it out there,” she said.
That would be stressful enough on its own. But Amanda is also dealing with another huge challenge. Last week, her husband, theater actor Nick Cordero, was hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He has since been placed on a ventilator and has been unconscious for nearly a week, leaving Amanda as the sole caretaker for their 10-month-old son, Elvis.
Through it all, Amanda has been sharing with her followers her journey juggling both the economic and health consequences of the disease on her family. And despite the many negative headlines about influencers behaving badly during the pandemic, Amanda said her Instagram community has been a huge source of strength for her.
“I’m grateful that I have exercise that I can share with people,” she said. “I know that moving your body, no matter how big or how small or for how long in a day will help somebody…If there’s something about me that inspires you to get up and to smile, and to smile, and to move your body…that makes my day…that’s what it’s all about.”
Also, she added, being able to connect to clients virtually is keeping her family afloat.
“My husband lost his job with this,” she said. “We’re gonna have hospital bills, and we have a mortgage and we have a car payment and I have to do my best to keep up my business as much as possible because it is my only income at the moment.”
The past few weeks have been an unimaginable whirlwind for Amanda and Nick. First, the economic ramifications of the coronavirus hit their family. Nick had been starring in Rock Of Ages in Los Angeles, but the show closed until April 15.
Amanda realized she had to pivot to doing all of her training online. So, she hastily built a subscription service for her online workouts, even though it wasn’t as perfect as she would have hoped.
“It’s just such a great lesson that I learned, retrospectively, sometimes you overanalyze and try to make things so perfect when it doesn’t have to be,” she said.
One of her clients also helped her out. Aimee Song, the mega-fashion influencer with 5.5 million followers, was already doing personal training with Amanda. She suggested that they do their normal session, but live, so others could follow along.
Amanda said she thought “it will be a great way to get through this.” She thinks it’s amazing how the fitness community has stepped up to pivot to online training.
“I just think it’s beautiful, what everybody’s been doing is such a beautiful outreach to help people get through this time,” she said.
Then, Nick got sick. Amanda said his symptoms were completely different than what they were expecting from coronavirus. One night in early March, he woke up sweaty, chilled, and feeling bad. For a few days after that, though, he was totally fine, Amanda said.
Then, on March 19, Nick started feeling sick again. He spent the next six days in bed, completely exhausted.
“He could not get out of bed, so tired, no energy, that was really his only symptom,” she said.
However, Nick didn’t have a fever or a cough, so they assumed it couldn’t be COVID-19. It wasn’t until Nick passed out while trying to change their son’s diaper on March 26 that they went to a doctor. The doctor didn’t think he had the disease, though, so they sent him home with medication.
Over the weekend, Nick got worse, with heavy breathing and a heavy cough. Finally, he went to the emergency room for new medication. Amanda said they both figured he would be home in a few hours, but he later called her and said his oxygen levels were low and he would be moved to the ICU. After a day in the ICU, Nick called again.
“He said, ‘I love you, they have decided to put me on a ventilator with a breathing tube and I’m gonna go unconscious and I don’t know when I’ll wake up, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to talk to you again.”
That was seven days ago, and the last time Amanda has spoken to her husband, who remains unconscious on a ventilator. She says she has been in contact with his care team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and that he could be on a ventilator for a few at least a more days.
“They told us that it’s a marathon not a sprint…I just kind of wait by the phone all day and hope for good news,” she said. She added that Nick got two false negative tests for COVID-19 before being diagnosed. The third, which they got a sample for by swabbing his chest cavity once he was unconscious, was positive.
Through Nick’s battle with the disease, Amanda also has been able to use her platform to share the reality of what it’s like when your loved one has coronavirus. But juggling it all, including full-time childcare, has been tough.
“Before you called I had two breakdowns today, it hasn’t always been easy,” she said.
Despite all the challenges she is facing, Amanda said keeping up her online fitness content has been helpful for her emotionally. She said after Nick got sick, Aimee told her she didn’t have to continue with the workouts if she didn’t want to. She said she told her, “I really need this therapy right now, and I need you to be my buddy right now,” she said.
“Because otherwise my day gets away with me,” she said. “And for my therapy, and my mental clarity, and my positivity that I need in order to be there for my son right now and to be just present, I need this workout.”
Amanda said the reaction and support from her online community has been overwhelming.
“It’s been so wonderful…the outreach, I can’t keep up,” she said. “The prayers and the thoughts and the people who are joining me in my live workouts or my online workouts…it just has been honestly overwhelming.”
She added: “When Nick wakes up from all of this, and he hears everything that has happened, it’s going to take him so many days to process this, he will cry so hard.”
Amanda said from her perspective as an influencer, she thinks “the climate has changed” for online content creators in this new world. But maybe, she said, that’s not such a bad thing.
“It’s hard to put on your brand new dress and take your photo,” she said. “It definitely is a different Instagram world. But you know, maybe we needed that little check-in with reality and life and what we have to be grateful for.”