Changing Lanes Through Covid-19
At the start of this year if someone would of said to me that an unknown virus is going to cause a worldwide pandemic, the government will put the country into lockdown, you will be made to stay in your home for the safety of yourself and others, you will not be able to visit your familiy and friends, social contact will be off limits, strict social distancing measures will be put in place, all operations of SS Dance and Wellbeing will come to a hault - partners will be forced to cancel current contracts, all studio classes will close and life as you know it will dramatically change... I would of laughed in their face and told them where to go (obviously without swearing).
How surreal that it actually happened... My initial reaction to the situation was that it will blow over, i did not expect it to develop to the magnitude that it has and that thousands of people would loose their lives as a result of it. From the start of March was when the cancellations began, all sessions that were a part of Older Peoples Health Initiative had to be stopped as everyone aged over 60 were deemed most vulnerable. Having worked with some of these groups for a number of years it sadened me as most of them are without partners and have some serious health conditions that puts them at a higher risk of possibly contracting the virus. I really do worry about how all of this will affect them and i also worry that some of them may not actually survive this.
All of my Active Community sessions that took place in studios and community centres have had to be cancelled as well as all sessions part of Workplace Health Initiative, (a project in partnership with the occupational health team at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust).
When the realisation kicked in, i felt numb... I hate uncertainty. I am the type of person who lives by knowing exactly what i have to do each day. Having worked so hard to build up SS Dance & Wellbeing i was scared of what this meant for my business especially with me being self-employed... I have not had a set salary for 3 years - if i do not work i do not have any source of income. This automatically threw me into the sink or swim mode, having built this idea up from scratch i was not about to let it go without a fight. It is such an unfortunate time for all businesses, everyone is in the same situaition but for the self-employed, small businesses, social enterprises and charities the risk of going under is greatly higher due to the impact of the pandemic. I had to act to fast to ensure that i could still work within my social mission and adapt my services to enable me to continue to reach people through dance via alternative platforms.
Moving online... What has made it possible for me to continue has been the use of social media, having an active presence on as many platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn means that i have been able to stay connected to a lot of my participants and this was really important to me. Referring back to my social mission to inspire peoples wellbeing, confidence and happiness through dance i had the opportunity to use these platforms to keep my business operating.
The shift to online classes was the only option, the normality of face to face dance sessions for the time being is now something that is considered to be unsafe - So my worry was not being able to reach my core audience of older adults as the idea of using digital platforms to engae can be seen as alien and something that they would not be open to getting invlolved with. This has been a struggle, and still continues to pose a barrier... Reaching out to all partner organisations is all that i can do right now which is frustrating - each organisation has their own battles to contend with so it's completely understandable that the continuation of dance sessions is just not top of their priorities list right now, however i will continue to offer my help and support to these groups wherever possible.
On the upside I was happy to know that some groups were open to the idea of online classes - Touchstone: Association of Blind Asians and Yorkshire Dance: Dance ON are two older peoples health initiative partners that i am continuing to work with.
Active Communities sessions is where the journey has been a smoother transition and therefore an easier development for me to process... I did have my doubts about moving on to digital platforms to deliver dance because the whole concept of my business is the personal experience that people take away from my classes and the social element of being able to interact with others in a fun atmosphere however the response has been great. I cannot thank my participants enough for sticking with me and coming out of their comfort zones to continue to dance with me online, it has been a massive adjustment for us all. What has kept me going is knowing that my participants are happy and are remaining to stay motivated by continuing to engage with Fitness Fusion at home and the general feedback has been extremely supportive. 9 weeks ago, i announced the move to Facebok LIVE and Zoom - I am glad that i have been able to do this as i know that this is not the case for a lot of other businesses. It has been a learning curve for me, we live in a society that is driven by technology but never did i imagine that i would have to rely on all these forms of technology to this scale to keep up with the running of my business.
The reason why i created SS Dance & Wellbeing was to give people access to the feeling i get when i dance - it brings me to my happy place. My sessions are here to put a smile on faces, bring a little bit of positivity through music and movement and to make people feel better in the present moment so naturally i had to continue to do as much delivery as possible.
Right now it is not my ideal situation to be in but i am doing my best to ensure that i can do what i can under the circumstances - Anyone can have access to FREE dance/fitness classes on my public Facebook page SS Dance & Wellbeing where sessions are streamed LIVE from my home on a weekly basis. There is also a FREE facebook group for Older and Vulnerable Adults who would benefit from a regular source of low impact dance classes and also helpful tips and exercises to do whilst in the house on lockdown. I do believe that what i do makes a difference, maybe only a small difference but we need positivity to help us to remain motivated throughout this difficult time.
"Everything will work out in the end, you don't need to know how, you just have to trust that it will. Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you - Be strong and choose to be positive."
Class Dates and Times
- Beech Hall Care Home, 1 Far Fold Lane, Leeds
- 10:30 - 11:15
- Older Peoples Health
- The Dancing House, Moor Lane, Gomersal, BD19 4LF
- 18:30 - 19:15
- Active Communities
- Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Huddersfield
- 17:30 - 18:15
- Active Workplace
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