Fiona Duley, right, and Danielle Sick prepare to record a dance session at the JD’s Fabulous Feet studio in Red Deer. Many exercise-based businesses are shifting to an online focus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributed photo

Red Deer businesses using internet to encourage exercise amid COVID-19 pandemic

Teaching a yoga class in an empty room is a new experience for the owner of a Red Deer studio.

“It’s really weird, just talking into a camera instead of having a group of 20 or 30 people in front of us,” said Candice Blum, owner of YogaNation.

“Having nobody in front of you as you’re trying to go through the transitions and stuff we normally do through our yoga class is just bizarre.”

YogaNation is one of many Red Deer businesses offering online sessions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down exercise-based facilities throughout the country.

After closing last week, YogaNation began offering videos on YouTube and Facebook. But upon realizing the pandemic may last longer than expected, the business started offering virtual classes, which are free until April 1, said Blum.

“It’s important people continue to do fitness at this time and continue to do something good for their body and mind. It’s a slippery slope to get into a dark place right now, with where things are at,” she said.

Fiona Duley, owner of the dance studio JD’s Fabulous Feet, said it’s important to keep her students active during the pandemic.

“We’re trying to keep in contact with our dancers as much as we can and try to keep them motivated and give them material to be working on at home,” Duley said.

“It’s difficult because the kids don’t have the space they have access to in the studio, so we’re trying to provide them with dance material that doesn’t travel too much and … stuff they can do in a confined space.”

The dance studio has been recording lessons for students and has hosted Facebook Live classes as well. It’s “very weird” to teach without the students in the room, said Duley.

“The kids bring a lot of energy into the studio. Keeping our own energy up while we’re missing the kids has been a bit of a challenge.

“But they’re sending us lots of videos from home and their parents are commenting on our online posts. That’s been a positive, for sure,” she said.

Janessa Marshall, co-owner of The Forum, located just south of the city, said the transition to hosting online classes has been “overwhelming and crazy, but actually, really rewarding and exciting.”

“My staff and team has really stepped up and are incredible. They’ve put in so much work to make this happen,” said Marshall.

“We’ve worked pretty hard to get all the classes online and live streaming, which has been a whole new experience for us.”

Directing classes toward a camera instead of a person does take some adjustment, Marshall added.

“It’s almost like teaching your first class again. Instead of standing in front of a room, you’re standing in front of multiple rooms, and they’re all over the place, with kids running around in the background and partners working from home, too,” she said.

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Fiona Duley, right, and Danielle Sick record a dance session at the JD’s Fabulous Feet studio in Red Deer. Many exercise-based businesses are shifting to an online focus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributed photo

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