You will be unsurprised to know that all building efforts have stopped for the foreseeable future - one day I was planning our launch events (we were due to open 11th April) and the next we were closed for business. Of all the things I thought might hold up finished building, a pandemic wasn't even on my list.
Our last class was on St Patrick's day, teaching a fun jig to my Tuesday Dancercise class. We had Guinness cupcakes afterwards and a cup of tea and it felt like we were at the top of a rollercoaster - knowing something was about to happen but unsure how it was all going to play out.
There has been so much said on the virus, staying at home, and how it is effecting our society. I write this from the point of view of a self employed person trying to make a living through this time. Not because my struggle is harder or more important than anyone else's, but because this is my experience of the situation we are in and it's my truth.
It's hard to explain how hard it was to close down the business. It's only business after all, its' not life or death. It's not a family member being ill.
It was a relief when I made the decision. I'd had heart palpitations (for the first time ever) for about 5 days. I felt removed and distant from everyone, because my own concerns seemed selfish in comparison to theirs. I thought I was doing OK and then someone would ask me what happens next and my throat would literally close as I choked on my words. Like many self employed and small businesses, I sat in tears at the keyboard telling people we were closing.
I began to see posts from other businesses closing down and noticed the similarities in language. "I write this in tears", "My heart breaks"… I realised I was not alone. I've received messages from other people in similar situations, and I've sent messages to others. We've offered each other support and condolences. As has been the case so often, adversity bringing people together. I'm lucky that there is a way I can diversify and continue to offer my service online. Many small businesses and self employed people don't have that option.
Moving online hasn't been easy but I didn't give myself a chance to stop and think about it or to back out.
We all have self limiting thoughts I'm sure. Mine have included: Why would any watch me when they could watch [fill in the blank]? What do I have to offer? I'm the wrong body shape / too old / too…. etc . I don't look like the people in the yoga videos I watch. I feel like a fraud. I don't like the sound of my voice. It's a mirror being held up to my insecurities.
We started off doing this from a place of necessity. (We being Cheggs and myself - thankfully Cheggs has taken on all the technological set up and responsibility, and tirelessly worked on making the experience as smooth as possible). As a self employed family we have no other income just now and we couldn't afford not to.
But what came out of necessity has become an absolute joy, far beyond what I thought it would be. I was looking forward to keeping fit and strong, to staying connected with people, to having some sense of normal routine, but it has been far more than that.
This is my experience of online teaching.
I look forward to seeing your smiley faces every morning (and I also totally get it when you choose to be unseen and just join in privately). I love having wee chats at the beginning and the end of the class, seeing how you’re all getting on at this time. Even if they're not about very much at all.
I have absolutely loved welcoming back participants who have left the island and are now able to take part from afar. It’s amazing to be able to offer classes to those who normally can’t come due to childcare / living remotely / working hours - for many I actually think this has broken down some barriers.
I love seeing how adaptable you all are. I’ve had key workers taking part in their tea break in uniform, entire families joining in together, mums and dads with babies in slings, generations of the same family joining in even though they can’t be together physically. Kids joining in with mums doing Zumba, mums and dads joining in with cheer and dance classes. Sometimes it’s chaotic, but it always feels joyful.
I have so much respect and gratitude to the key workers who are out there every day, who are having to send their kids to school, who are putting themselves at risk. I see the challenges others face and I am so grateful, almost embarrassed, by how lucky we are.
If feels uncomfortable to be selling in this time of crisis, to be thinking about money when others are thinking about staying safe. It’s something we have struggled with, but are coming to accept as our lot just now. We are working hard to make what we offer as worthwhile as possible for our customers. I am humbled by every person that has chosen to sign up for my classes. I understand that's not an option for everyone right now, and I look forward to seeing those of you who can't take part right now, when we do open our physical doors at long last.
And if you are interested in our current online offering, please check it out here (at our brand new booking site!)...