COVID-19: The Peoples Fightback

Words by Tony Robertson.

Featured Image credit: Claus Michelfelder. Available for reuse under Creative Commons licence 3.0.

The Coronavirus pandemic is the deadliest global disease since Hong Kong Flu in the 1960s and consequently has caused many peoples lifestyles to change.

Many physically active people found these activities cut off when the UK government announced a national lockdown to combat the spread of the disease.

But how have people responded to these restrictions to try and stay healthy?

Karate Practioner Tom Tennick runs a Karate club in south London and has had to change his way of doing things since lockdown procedures began.

Tom Tennick after one of his classes. Picture taken by Tony Robertson.

“We’re better off staying in the Zoom classes for safety because they’re better, but it’s not really socialising because there’s a limit to what you can teach.”

Mr Tennick has moved away from his usual method of teaching in a dojo (a hall or room) and has instead started doing his classes on the video communication website Zoom.

Normally he would teach around 300 students per week, but since the lockdown, he has only been teaching 70 per week. Yet despite this, he says the Zoom classes have allowed him to continue having an income throughout the lockdown.

“As lockdown has been going on longer I’ve found more people saying: ‘Yeah I’ve go to start doing something’. I think the first people thought it would only be a couple of weeks but now they realise it’s gonna be longer there’s been more interest cause people have said ‘yeah I’m interested now’ cause the kids are doing nothing.

“At the end of the day, what are people doing? They’re bored silly so they’re eating more and people have put on weight,” he said.

Interview with Tom Tennick over a Zoom call.

While Mr Tennick praised the technology for allowing people to remain connected and active, he questioned whether it was good enough for the purpose of keeping people fit.

“I think the closest we’ve come to exercise on a tablet was the Wii fit which was quite a good way of doing exercise as well as playing a game. But you don’t hear people doing it now and it’s slowly faded out.

“It’s very important (sport), a lot of them are just playing games but you need physical exercise. It’s not good for their mental attitude or their physical attitude.”

On March 31, Sport England announced a £195 million package to boost community sport including £115 million going towards the long-term funding of clubs which promote physical activity in England, £55 million to fund new and innovative ways of keeping people active during the lockdown and a £20 million community emergency fund.

However, with no immediate end in sight, what changes will happen across society when the lockdown is lifted?

Mr Tennick said: “I think people will still be scared. I think they’ll be worried about going back to school, they’ll be worried about sports centres where there’s a lot of people. If they restrict you in how many people you can have in a class then the problem is can you afford to run the classes?

“Until we get a vaccine, I don’t think people will ever feel secure.”

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