Preston gym owner puts classes online to help herself – and others – survive the coronavirus crisis

Posted on - 18th March, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Health, People, Preston News, University campus
Rachel Joyner with gym members

A Preston gym owner is finding creative ways to keep her businesses going during the coronavirus crisis.

Rachel Joyner owns The Red Kite School of Thai and Kickboxing in Fylde Road, and also regularly runs craft fairs where she sells her art and upcycled furniture.

Rachel said: “Things have become pretty difficult for me. I’ve had to make the truly heartbreaking decision to close my gym for classes and cancel my craft fairs.

“While the Government has given no specific direction to gyms, I feel the safest option for my students and their families is to cancel the classes, which could reasonably be classed as a ‘social gathering’.”

Instead, Rachel is trying to create an online gym community through live workouts and sessions talking about mental wellbeing.

She said: “Our sport isn’t just about physical wellbeing but for many it constitutes personal therapy and mental wellness. This is what concerns me the most about a total closure at this juncture – I think the mental health impact will be worse than the physical.

“I’m going to be sharing live muaythai/fitness workouts aimed at everyone from total novices to experienced thaiboxers. I’ll be doing lots of live feeds talking about feelings of being isolated, with a view of trying to make this whole process less painful for everyone.

“We’re also discussing the idea of starting up a running club with more urgency. We can run and walk with a two-metre gap between us and still feel part of a team activity.”

Despite cancelling classes, Rachel is offering reduced price one-to-one sessions at Red Kite for up to three people at once.

She said: “Having looked at the guidelines, I think this is reasonable. I will ensure we can retain a safe distance from each other, which will make hygiene much easier to manage.”

Any customers who have paid upfront for sessions will have the option to have lessons from Rachel before the end of the month at no extra cost. She is also looking for donations to help keep Red Kite going.

“I’m hoping the Government strategy to help small businesses will become clearer over time but I won’t be relying on this. As such I have set up a GoFundMe page and people can also donate directly to the gym.

“If anyone can afford to donate, who is finding my online presence useful, they can do so. I totally get it if they can’t and don’t in anyway feel they should.

“The minute the Government advice changes I’ll be open again full time. It’s scary times for everyone. Nothing is certain. But one thing is for sure, I’m not averse to managing challenging situations as a self-employed person.

“I’ve worked too hard to get our gym to where it is today to have this jeopardise what we have, so I’ll be busting my ass to keep the bills paid.”

To find out more visit the Red Kite Facebook page. To donate to the gym, visit GoFundMe.

What do you think of Rachel’s strategy to keep Red Kite running and help others in the process? Let us know in the comments.

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