VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scores of companies have been ordered to close their doors, forcing them to get creative to try to keep their business alive. One local martial arts studio is doing what it can to stay off the chopping block.
At Changing Lives Martial Arts, its two studios - one in Virginia Beach and the other in Chesapeake - are closed to students. However, they're still teaching - via Zoom video classes.
Tracy Lee Thomas, President and Founder of Changing Lives, admits it's an adjustment.
"It's not quite as easy as it was in person because you can't motivate them and watch their technique quite the same when you have that gallery view or that grid format," Thomas explained.
We asked Thomas, who is also a Master Instructor at the school, about the biggest challenge moving to this type of training through Zoom.
"You know, martial arts instructors - you're an influencer, you're a mentor. You really want to mentor those kids. It's very difficult to transition to that via Zoom, so you gotta keep the classes slightly shorter. We're trying to keep it motivating, interesting. The difference would be training someone on 44 moves or 34 moves or... sparring - that's different, so we transitioned to shadow sparring; we transitioned to slower and lower amount of kicks," Thomas said.
Thomas says it's not just the students who are benefiting. The parents, he says, are also being helped by these programs. He says parents have a lot on their plate in the wake of COVID-19.
"We're working from home, plus having your child at home, plus being the teacher to make sure they do their schoolwork - that's stressful for parents, so we're there to support them. So, we have a point system where if you're doing your homework, you're turning in reports into our instructors who are reading them, you're turning in videos and what they're basically getting is, they're getting that homework done and then we have every week - we're having a life skill, like respect, courtesy, self-discipline and they have to work at that life skill," he explained.
Meanwhile, the students will be testing online this Saturday for their belts, excluding black belts. If they're promoted to the next level, they'll be doing scheduled curbside pickup for their belts to be in compliance with the governor's orders.
If you'd like more info on Changing Lives Martial Arts, click here.