A Zumba instructor has said a lot of uncertainty remains for the fitness sector despite the easing of some public health restrictions today.
Darren Nash, owner of Zumba with Darren, has been teaching classes in Limerick city for 10 years. He said the pandemic had thrown up huge challenges, but had also created chances to engage with people from all over the world.
Mr Nash said he had a consistent class size of around 25 clients before Covid but his whole business model had been forced to change.
He began by hosting free Zoom classes to keep in touch with his loyal clients, to offer them something to look forward to and to keep his business going.
Mr Nash said these classes opened up Zumba with Darren to a whole new audience and through word of mouth people from all corners of the world began logging on to his livestreams.
“Zoom was the hottest thing. I went into the garage and did my classes from there. I honestly had maybe 150 people on Zoom classes. People began donating money and we actually raised €4,500 for the St Munchin’s community centre, which delivers meals to older people,” he said.
In August last year he began doing smaller classes outdoors in pods and he continued streaming online. This hybrid business model came with a unique learning curve, according to Mr Nash, who said he had been constantly adapting over the past year and half.
“I’ve been doing outdoor up until this week and I’m waiting to go indoor. Because you have people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, I don’t know if I’m in a position to ask someone,” Mr Nash said.
“I know employers can’t ask and I know restaurants can but I’m not using a scanner for a dance class to see who’s scanned and who is not scanned. So I’m kind of slow to go indoors until I know more – until I know exactly what I can do.
“The rules are at the moment, I could have up to 100 people indoors if they are all fully vaccinated or if they had Covid in the last six months. Then they’re covered.
“But as soon as one person is not vaccinated, then I have to have pods of six because it’s deemed then to be a mixed class of vaccinated and non-vaccinated people.”
Mr Nash said the pandemic had added extra pressure to keep people safe and also to make sure people could see you were making a significant effort to keep the class safe.
“When I do my classes, I make sure I do what is above and beyond the call of what is needed. It just takes one person to take offence to it or say you’re not doing it right and so you have to be super-vigilant and make sure that everyone is happy,” he said.
“You have to communicate with the class and remind them of the rules in nearly every class. You sound like a broken record.”