What can an instructor teach during lockdown?

15 Feb 21

For years now I have been running a weekly Pilates/Yoga class at our club. Floor space is limited so I could only fit about seven in, and even so it was cramped. So it was just a small class. It was aimed at maintaining/developing fitness for sailing, but some social members decided to join in too. It was rebranded as Filates as it was “Fun Pilates”.

When Lockdown hit last March I decided to give a Zoom class a try. It’s very different but it seems to work OK. I now have 23 members signed up aged from 16 to 70+ and regularly have 15 to 20 taking part, three times per week.

As always people have different hobbies besides the sailing club so I search out different exercises that might help windsurfers, SUPers, tennis players, golfers, as well as dinghy sailors; someone wanted me to help them reduce bingo wings and do some butt-lifting!

It’s not sailing, but it is based on sailing club life and it has helped keep people together, given a focus three times a week, and provided a bit of fun. Obviously I can’t correct what people are doing by being stood next to them, but the philosophy I encourage is self-regulation, so “do what you can”.

For many exercises I try to provide up to or four three levels of difficulty, so participants can choose the level that suits them. I have now delivered 105 classes since last March and not lost a member. Also pleased to report no cases in A&E either! We held a celebration on the 100th session to mark the occasion.

We have a WhatsApp group for participants, this helps keep the group in contact with each other and builds the sense of community.

Some people mute Zoom to prevent local noise disrupting the class with barking dogs or doorbells indicating parcel deliveries, but most people leave audio and video on. This helps participants interact with each other, sharing the fun and the exclamations of pain as the strength of the exercises kicks in.

To develop a bit more fun many of the exercises have names that we have dreamt up that reflect the action undertaken. So, for example, “lamp post” is reminiscent of the pauses that happen during a dog walk, “Night Fever” brings back memories of an 80s disco movie, and “crime scene twist” mirrors the white painted outline seen in some crime dramas! Some have commented that I probably use a medieval torture manual as my reference source, while this is not correct, it is certainly true that some exercises do incur some level of excruciation. However the emphasis is on self-regulation and fun rather than pure Yoga postures or precise Pilates exercises.

In the current circumstances, these classes are as much about providing some social interaction, fun and structure into the week, as building & maintaining sailing fitness.

At the moment I see no prospect of going back to doing Filates classes at the club as we wouldn’t all fit in the physical space!

Felpham SC is an RYA Recognised Training Centre (not for Filates!), British Youth Sailing Recognised Club, RYA OnBoard Centre and RYA Club of the Year 2020 Finalist.

How has your club coped with the lockdown? We’d love to hear and share your stories, please send them to your Regional Communicator