Keeping Fit – Keeping Connected

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Karyn Weepers, Body Pepper Fitness

Local gym and fitness centre Body Pepper Fitness came to a standstill when the Corona virus lockdown came into effect on 23 March.

Karyn Weepers who established Body Pepper 11 years ago, realised she would have to radically change how she delivered her classes to stay in business.

In other words, she had to adapt – and quickly. She acquired some new technical skills and transformed her gym classes into online sessions – literally overnight.

“I had the rug pulled out from under me when lockdown was announced,” she said.

Body Pepper had already adapted by moving the usual classes at the School of Arts to an outdoor setting. “On the Sunday evening I was thinking we would be doing our classes the next day on the sports oval to maintain social distancing.  Then the new regulations were announced which meant we could not do anything at all.  I understood the need for it of course, but what did it mean for me and my clients?”

Within hours Karyn had set up an account for the Zoom app which supports online meetings, and she texted her regulars with a link so they could join her online.

The online classes were launched with Karyn performing her routines from a corner of her living room.  “The first week was stressful as I navigated my way through; I’m not a tech whiz.  There were a few hiccups, but overall it has been fantastic.  It means people can stay connected and that helps to keep them motivated,” Karyn said.

As Body Pepper’s online presence became more popular their presentation has become more slick.  Now the family room has been cleared of furniture and rugs and studio lights have been added. The picture and sound are clear as a bell.  Participants can see and speak to each other at the beginning of each Zoom class.  Her older group who do the Low and Slow classes have particularly enjoyed the online experience. “For some of them, particularly those who live alone, our online classes can be the only real connection to other people that they have all week.

“I have had lovely letters and texts, saying our online classes have really changed the whole way they are coping with lockdown; and how it helps them get through and gives them something to look forward to.”

“One lady who suffers from depression wrote to me saying she had been really struggling by herself but being able to do these classes online, where you actually see and speak to others, has given her a real boost. It completely changed how she felt and now she feels she is coping much better.”

Karyn, who established Body Pepper Fitness when she and her family settled in Yandina 11 years ago, offers a range of classes catering for all fitness levels.

“I have built up a wonderful core group of clients who have stuck with me over the years and who are still showing up on online most mornings to keep their fitness and mental health in good shape.”

She said her business activity has dropped by about a third lately, as not everyone can do an online class or wants to.  However, the online sessions are keeping Body Pepper Fitness afloat so it can survive lockdown.

“This online presence will get us through.  I have enough to keep me going,” Karyn said.

“I am so glad my clients are happy with it and we’ve been able to help keep them connected and fit.  We will probably keep our online presence, as well as the usual group sessions, after this anyway.”