Staying healthy with covid-safe dance classes
Vicky meets... Natalie Temple, co-director of Fitjoy, Chichester.
• What is Fitjoy?
We are a dance and fitness company. Our classes include Broadway Boogie, Clubbercise, Dance Fusion and Pilates. You don’t have to be a natural dancer; for most people it’s just a fun way to keep fit and to socialise. It’s open to all ages and is very accessible – we are very community focused. You’re not going to be met by lycra-clad skinny dancers. People of all shapes, sizes and ages come together and have a great time and there’s nearly always a group who go for a post-class coffee or a drink. You can pay a monthly fee and attend as many classes as you wish, or you can pay-as-you-go.
• How did you start Fitjoy?
I was studying dance and performing arts at Chichester University and I really loved the dance element. I started teaching classes 13 years ago and it grew from there.
• What was lockdown like for you?
We managed to set up online classes really quickly. It was a real journey, but we took our clients with us. Some of our older members went from not knowing how to use an iPad to zooming around like pros!
• You appointed Nicola English as your co-director this year. Are two heads better than one?
Yes, absolutely! I’ve got a three-year-old and so I approached Nicola, who also teaches Pilates, to take on the administration role in the business. We have our set roles but we discuss everything. We make a great team.
• Talking of teams, what are your teachers like?
They are fantastic! We have a great mix of qualified teachers and also professional dancers. We pick our team very carefully; they need to be great people as well as great teachers.
• How are you coping with covid-proofing classes?
For the classes we run in halls, everyone dances three metres apart and people have their own sticker on the floor so that they know where they should be. Everything gets cleaned thoroughly in between classes, and we have an online booking system to meet track and trace requirements. We go above and beyond on the Covid front so that people can be assured of a safe and clean environment.
• What are your hopes for Fitjoy in the future?
I think to keep building up the classes, but making sure that we retain that amazing community spirit. We love keeping the community healthy, happy and making new friends – it’s like a family. When I got married clients turned up at the church, and when I had my little boy they were thrilled. It is so important to us that we offer a really personal service and that people feel that they are being looked after. We know it is appreciated and clients have told us how much they valued our efforts to keep classes going during lockdown. Some even paid their membership fees before we knew when we could open ‘real’ classes again.
• Where can we find out more information?
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