Venus Williams Says Launching Virtual Fitness Classes Helped Her Cope in Pandemic

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Alyssa Johnson
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Courtesy of IWBI

Venus Williams foray into being a fitness coach was beneficial for her fans — and herself.

Speaking with PEOPLE about her partnership with the International WELL Building Institute and its WELL Health-Safety Rating, the four-time Olympic gold medalist says that leading at-home virtual workouts helped keep her spirits high amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Mental health and physical health are all extremely important," says Williams, 40. "And in terms of physical health, I think one of the highlights [during the pandemic] was helping other people to stay active. I was able to do that through Coach Venus."

As "#CoachVenus," the former Wimbledon champion got followers, fans and surprise guests — like her sister Serena Williams — to get up and get active with daily Instagram Live workout routines.

"[Coach Venus] was really fun and helped me to stay motivated because I honestly felt my motivation waning a tad," says Williams. "And so by getting up and getting started, it actually helped me to get stronger and to stay motivated. So that was exciting."

"Simple things like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, all those things actually boosts your immune system," Williams says in regards to maintaining wellness during the pandemic. "They're easy wins, anyone can do this. It's not rocket science. So those things are life changers, and a lot of us aren't doing those simple things."

Venus Williams/Instagram

Not only has the tennis star been using #CoachVenus to help others stay active, but she's also used her platform for charitable causes. In December of last year, Williams partnered up with Bachelor Nation's Matt James and Tyler Cameron and raised money for the No Kid Hungry organization, which aims to end childhood hunger in the U.S.

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Between that and her entrepreneurial pursuits with EleVen, her activewear and wellness company, V Starr, her hospitality and commercial design company, and Happy Viking, her protein shake company, Williams is without a doubt keeping busy.

She shares that while her life may not be balanced, she remembers to find moments of peace as best she can — whether that's listening to music, hanging with family or spending time with her beloved pup Harry.

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"Balance doesn't exist," says Williams. "For those folks out there trying to find balance, they may be sorely disappointed. So I'm not necessarily looking for balance but I think I'm just looking for moments of balance. So you have to take those moments for yourself. Once you accept that you may not have a balanced life, stress kind of falls away."

Just like with #CoachVenus, Williams is also helping promote health and wellness through her partnership with the International WELL Building Institute. Their WELL Health-Safety Rating helps keep businesses and venues sanitary and COVID conscious.

"All of us are really looking back to doing the things we love and going to concerts is my number one, I can't wait," says Williams. "The WELL safety seal is the commitment to all of our health and wellbeing. Also the WELL Building Institute has introduced the WELL Health-Safety rating to lay the groundwork for science-backed strategies."

She adds, "There are nearly two billion square feet now that are enrolled in WELL offerings, including Yankee Stadium, Albert Hall in London — and I've had the honor of going there once, now I can go back and feel safe. Also the Empire State Building, an amazing, iconic place. So this has really been very exciting helping people get comfortable to feel well and to really have those health and safety ratings that are making a difference in our lives."