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Healthily LifestyleHow lockdown has changed the face of fitness for young and old | #elderly | #seniors | #execrise

How lockdown has changed the face of fitness for young and old | #elderly | #seniors | #execrise

Many things have changed during the coronavirus pandemic and how fitness instructors have had to adapt to these unprecedented times is among them.

The complete shutdown of schools, leisure centres, gyms and public halls across Tayside and Fife has proven the catalyst for a rise in online fitness classes being streamed into living rooms.

Who could forget the Joe Wicks phenomenon which saw millions tune in to the TV presenter and fitness coach’s daily workout routines designed for both kids and adults?

It proved that fitness didn’t have to be confirmed to the sports hall or gym and has brought a deluge of online classes ,covering everything from Pilates and yoga, to spin classes and martial arts.

Sarah Queen live streams her fitness classes to scores of students every week.

There are now online exercise routines you can do from your desk, meaning you can work and work out at the same time.

A huge learning curve

Gina Easson, a qualified professional instructor who set up The Pilates Project based in Tayport in Fife, admits the pandemic forced her to rethink how she could keep her business and her classes going, despite the lockdown.

“Up until lockdown, classes had always been face-to-face but that has been turned on its head during the pandemic,” the 46-year-old said.

“I’d never recorded or streamed sessions online before so it proved a huge learning curve, especially in terms of technology to keep classes, and ultimately my business, going.”

By providing live online sessions as well as pre-recorded classes, Gina has been able to tailor her business to suit her clients and has built up a library of around 80 sessions that can be accessed at any time, anywhere.

Fitness and wellbeing in lockdown

Gyms at home

It has been a similar process for Vicky Dunbar, 47, a self-employed fitness instructor for the past 26 years.

Vicky is also one of Fife Sports and Leisure Trust’s 39 instructors, who have collectively delivered more than 720 online fitness sessions during lockdown.

“Going from face-to-face to virtual tuition has changed the way we conduct fitness and how we engage with the public,” said Vicky.

“From how we prepare routines for people to do in their own homes to the variety of tuition, from high-intensity work out for the more active to low impact light fitness for older folk, it has had to be tailored to suit people’s surroundings during lockdown.

“I cringe when I think back to those early recordings and hopefully my presenting skills have improved over time, but we’ve had to adapt to what has been an unprecedented time.”


Meanwhile for 6th Dan Black belt karate expert, Sarah Queen, a tutor for martial arts organisation JKS Scotland, there has been an increase in people trying out the sport for the first time.

JKS Scotland has around 120 clubs and more than 7,000 members and is affiliated with the Shotokan Karate Federation.

Sarah said: “Being able stream classes into homes has enticed adults that may not have had the confidence to go to a face-to-face class, be it because of body image or whatever, to take it up without those pressures.”

“Teaching online has made me a better teacher as I’ve had to focus on 50 or 60 youngster online in a whole different way to how I would in a class in a studio.

“It has been a challenge but fun too and anything that helps keep people active and helps both physical and mental wellbeing during this  last 12 months has got to be worth it.”

Social benefit

For others however, the lifting of lockdown can’t come soon enough.

Dorothy McHugh from Dundee Pensioners Forum, said it is often the camaraderie and companionship of fitness class for older folk that is just as, if not more, important.

Dorothy McHugh.

“Sadly we have 40% of pensioners that are not online who have had no benefit of the virtual classes offered during the pandemic,” Dorothy said.

“It’s as much about the social interaction that comes from attending a class for dance or light exercise at any number of halls and venues across the city.

“That’s been lost during the pandemic and many have suffered as a result.

“As restrictions are eased we need to see more funding and planning, both nationally and regionally, to encourage the elderly to get back to being more active. The mental and physical wellbeing needs to be made a priority.”

For Vicky, it’s not where you do your work out, it’s about actually doing it.

“I was once told that exercise is the best pill you can take,” she said.

“Adapting to life post-lockdown will present new challenges and one is certainly how we encourage the public to reap the many physical and mental well-being benefits that comes from exercise.”

Lockdown gains for dad aiming to give his middle age spread the chop

Reporter Neil Henderson and daughter, Emilia, practice their karate during an online class.

DC Thomson reporter Neil Henderson reflects on his own experience of lockdown exercise.

If someone had told me I’d be taking up Karate before the lockdown I’d have laughed out loud.

After all, at 52 years of age it has been a lifetime since the skinny teenager I used to be had the fantasy of becoming a cloned version of Bruce Lee.

A middle aged spread had somehow appeared and with the demands of a young family,  signing up for a sport or fitness activity was simply not on the agenda.

But then came lockdown and life will never quite be the same ever again.

The changes in the Henderson household started when my wife Sara and I joined in with my youngest daughter’s Active Schools karate classes being streamed live on Zoom.

At first it was just a bit of good fun and the encouragement Emilia, 7, needed to keep active and in touch with school friends.

However, in no time at all as lockdown continued, we found ourselves tuning in to regular karate and fitness classes and seeking out evening higher grade tuition as well.

A year on and the surprise and banter from family members has thankfully diminished and even the initial embarrassment of wearing the Gi, the proper name for a karate outfit, has gone.

And there have been a few small scale achievements too.

Completing a couple of belt grading assessments have both surprised and made us both feel pretty good about ourselves and even made us a little fitter, although that’s certainly a work in progress.

Best of all we’ve done it as a family and there’ll be no stopping us once lockdown is finally over.

Who would have thought that a year ago…

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