Top tips from an FLexercise teacher and trainer

So here we are again…. back in lockdown!!! Putting aside the frustration, reasoning, efficacy etc it is clearly something we will have to deal with. As I sit writing this, I am having my hair cut and coloured, an appointment happily booked 6 weeks ago. My hair stylist is self employed like me. However, unlike me she won’t be able to continue to trade during the latest enforced work closure.

How have I managed to keep going? Like many colleagues in the industry, I have given daily thanks to Zoom (other providers are available). However, it hasn’t been without challenge. The important thing for me has been to make peace with the fact it won’t be perfect. However professional I may wish to be, my workspace, internet connection, music etc are all issues with potential for disaster. It’s called life and I’ve had to accept it.

I chose not to return to face to face when we were allowed to. For me, it was too much like hard work! The restrictions on numbers (not cost effective), ventilation (too cold?) and the cleaning expected were all things I didn’t want to engage with. For me it was sensible to continue on Zoom. A poll of my participants told me they too were happier to maintain the status quo (particularly when they realised we would have to keep the doors open in the middle of winter!)

So what are the positives and not so positives of online delivery? For me they are as follows. Please note these are very personal and others may not have the same experiences which I respect.

Keeping my cohort active and me earning money – limited overheads (no hall hire/fuel costs etc) I miss the F2F contact – it is so precious to be able to reach out a hand. Mitigator – we have found other ways of managing. I always open my zoom about 20 mins before class to allow chat time.
Working harder – the limited space means I have developed stronger movement and more reps etc and I can see an improvement in participants’ fitness My work space limits how much movement/travel I can achieve which reduces choreography potential
It’s lovely to have participants zooming in to classes and being clearly so happy to be there. I’m not always able to see the whole of each participant due to their device set up (please note I ALWAYS tell them they are exercising at their own risk if I can’t see the bottom half of their body)
Working from home – more time effective. I can just go up to my office, teach and then get on with other work. I feel like I’m glued to the laptop all day – need to make a conscious effort to leave the house and get fresh air
60% of my participants have joined my zoom and I suspect that will increase again now we are in lockdown part 2. Zoom provides flexibility for participants and many now attend 3 – 4 times per week which they wouldn’t in real space I am likely to lose some participants due to tech issues (husband in charge of laptop ☹), fear of tech, and a couple with no tech (yes folks there are still people out there without internet)
Class members from different groups all making new acquaintances – chatting, catching up, learning about each other. Partners joining class – exercising together is good fun

What would my top tips be?

  • Keep encouraging participants to join – monthly e mails/news with reminders of days/times/zoom links. Offer to talk them through Zoom set up to take out the fear factor
  • Be comfy with Zoom yourself before starting to help others
  • Make sure you understand what music you are allowed to use on Zoom – talk to EMD UK. Please note the rules are different for Zoom versus Facebook live and YouTube
  • Make sure your setup is optimal for your space – this includes Zoom settings for music and voice. Personally, I haven’t found the need for additional mixer/headset equipment but you may.
  • Have the confidence to try it – if you don’t, you will never know if it could work for you. This also includes seeing if your broadband is fast enough to support Zoom classes (don’t forget to turn off the Wi-Fi on all other devices to maximise your speed)
  • There is always someone there to help you. We are lucky in FLexercise to have so many teachers on Zoom and they all bring experience and tips to the party.
  • Laugh when it goes wrong

It isn’t perfect, it never will be. However, at least this way I am continuing to earn money, my participants are still exercising and we are supporting each other. I started Zooming on March 17th and don’t anticipate stopping for some considerable time

We are constantly being told it is an unprecedented time. The first lockdown certainly was that. However, we now have to face the possibility of short firebreaks on a regular basis until a more effective solution to the infection rate is found. I know there are those in the industry trying to rationalise continued face to face activity. I understand why. To suddenly have your income taken away is a disaster. And, on a personal note I also think lockdown is a blunt tool which just kicks the problem down the road. However, until we have everyone playing by the rules, we will be subjected to continual liberty reductions. Now is the time for us in the industry to think outside the box and keep people active by using the rules to our advantage.

Take care and stay safe. Wash your hands, wear your mask (properly!!) and keep distanced.

Sarah Price

FLexercise teacher and trainer

Guest blogs are written by our partners and organisations and do not necessarily represent the opinions of EMD UK