With lockdown, we have had to say goodbye for now to a number of establishments, including local gyms. We’ve looked at what this has meant for Ladywell residents as well as local businesses. This time, we spoke to local fitness legend, Orlene Henry, about moving her Group Exercise classes online.
Some of you will know Orlene from attending her Salsa, Box Fit or Aerobics classes in Lewisham and Dulwich. If so, you will be happy to learn that you can continue benefiting from her classes online – for those that do not know her yet and looking to keep up fitness levels safely, have a read and get in touch as you will be in good hands no matter your level of ability! You can contact her via email.
“I have now been in the fitness industry for 8 years. I have reaped the numerous benefits of regular exercise for much longer. I have for much of my career as an Instructor, taught many different class types, from Indoor Cycling, Salsa, various Aerobic classes, right though to Pilates.”
What is your favourite class to teach?
“My classes are like my babies; it’s impossible to have a favourite! I am most definitely in my happy place when teaching any form of exercise.”
How has the Coronavirus crisis affected you?
“The Coronavirus pandemic is an unfathomable, unexpected, strange and very challenging situation we all find ourselves in. And I would never have imagined that out of such a scary, dark situation, the chink of light for me would be that I would discover a new exciting way to continue to provide my services to my local community and regulars.
“Delivering exercise classes online has been a massive steep learning curve because I have had to get to grips very quickly with using a laptop for work, the weird and wonderful world of internet connectivity (or not!!), and all things Zoom related!
“But I am thoroughly enjoying being back doing the job I love best, and able to see and work out again with my regulars and all the new members that join our happy band of keep fitters.
“Setting up online classes, I was extremely mindful of the fact that many people’s earnings had been significantly reduced during lockdown, so I ensured that I set an affordable charge for classes so that everyone could keep fit, and attend more sessions per week than they would or could on the outside. This has enabled many to significantly improve their fitness levels and maintain a general sense of wellbeing during lockdown.”
Anyone that has attended a class by Orlene can tell she is a pro, not just in exercise but also in instruction and teaching. This means that she is absolutely focused on enriching her students with knowledge about technique as well as the actual moves. We asked her to tell us a bit more about her business, and how she got to do what she does.
“I was initially motivated to return to further education after taking redundancy from a full time job while on maternity leave with my second child. As a single parent, I was finding it extremely stressful, and a struggle, to combine full time office work with the responsibilities of raising two children. I also was absolutely determined to lead by example, and show my children that they can achieve anything they want to, via discipline, hard work and determination to be ambitious, and I am very proud that my mission was accomplished because my children both went on to gain their degrees too.
“As we all know, there have been many people who have lost newly secured employment due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately my son was one of them. Two weeks prior lockdown, he got his first full time dream job asa Studio Manager for a Film Production company, and had be let go two weeks thereafter.
“Starting my own business first began 16 years ago when after completing a BSc Health Science degree, I rented a small room in a local community space, and opened a Therapeutic Bodywork Massage and Beauty Therapy service. This led to me being recommended to a couple of local community service providers, through which clients were able to receive these treatments.
“A couple years later, I decided to add one of my longstanding hobbies, Salsa dancing, to my work portfolio, so I completed a Salsa Dance Tutor PTLLS qualification. I embarked on initially teaching beginners’ Salsa, and progressed to include Improvers Level as well. This led me to fully qualify as a Group Exercise Instructor, and to make this the main focus of my career. I had enjoyed the many benefits of regular exercise in a group setting, when my first child was a toddler so I wanted to really motivate and encourage adults of all ages to make regular exercise an integral part of their lifestyle.
“Two years after the PTLLS qualification, I gained all the necessary Group Exercise Instructor qualifications, and four months later, I was offered my first regular job teaching group exercise classes in Lewisham. I was nervous, but also very excited to embark on a completely new career as a very mature adult. However, I had every confidence that my desire to provide community based services, and my longstanding love of music, and movement to it in the form of dance and exercise, would guide my new career in a positive way.”