Zooming into students’ homes

Local businesses switch to virtual services


Kate Muldoon

Push the living room furniture out of the way, open up the laptop on the couch, and click the Zoom link to attend a virtual gymnastics practice. At-home routines like this are the new normal  for not only gymnasts, but also students, teachers, coaches, tutors, and others trying to keep some form of consistency in their lives.

To stay in business and continue to provide for their customers, local businesses have had to adapt. Many are using platforms like Zoom to reach their audience virtually.

McKenna Selby ‘22, a gymnastics coach at Mountain Kids Gymnastics in Louisville, has made this switch for her students. “Mountain Kids is offering a wide variety of different classes and programs for all ages and levels,” she said. “Most of these happen live using Zoom, while others are posted on the Mountain Kids Instagram and Facebook pages.”

Lauryn Forge, the studio manager at CorePower Yoga’s Louisville location is experiencing this change first-hand. “Teachers are teaching classes on a donation basis as well as managing their Zoom accounts personally,” Forge said.

Bill Huston, co-founder of Mindfish Test Prep in Boulder, has found the transition easier than most. “We’ve been doing online tutoring for over 10 years, so we are super lucky that we were in a good place to move all of our services online as the pandemic continued to evolve,” Huston said.

Forge has been in charge of creating the virtual class schedule to accommodate the needs of teachers and students. “We have learned all the ins and outs of Zoom, teaching yoga in your living room with pets, kids, and all kinds of distractions,” she said.

Not only is the schedule an obstacle to work around, but so is a new environment. Yoga teachers are adapting the flow of their classes and style of their teaching to work with what they have. “We have learned how to make classes more challenging without the heat we are used to having in the yoga studio,” Forge said.

Mindfish has had different issues. Since many of their programs are set up similar to a regular high school class, they use physical materials. “Students still need hard copies of all of our materials even though we’re meeting online,” Huston said.

Also, virtual learning can be a challenge for students. “For some learners, it’s not the best option because of their specific learning styles and preferences,” Huston said. This requires tutors to be increasingly sensitive to their students’ learning styles and make sure they are continuing to connect in an effective way.    

As for gymnastics, coaching is constantly hands-on. Observing and correcting techniques in person is the only way it’s been done and is what everyone in the field is conditioned to do. 

“Many of the [online] workouts are tailored to keep kids active and moving rather than teach them new skills, so I definitely miss getting to help them improve and learn new things,” Selby said.

Not all of the changes to the typical schedules are negative.

“As a yoga teacher, I have loved being able to focus on my students’ postures and alignment during my online classes. I can see students and directly help them on their mats through a screen,” Forge said. “It’s a silver lining, really. I get to practice my cueing and how those cues land with my students when they are not right in front of me in real life. This will only help me grow as a yoga teacher.”

In addition, Zoom classes like the ones offered by Mountain Kids are beneficial to the health of their gymnasts. “Being confined at home makes it very difficult for people to exercise and be active,” Selby said. With the help of these classes, kids are able to get some energy out.

In some cases, students thrive with the opportunity to work from home. “Online works well for a lot of students,” Huston  said. Being at home allows for a greater potential to succeed.

When businesses are able to resume in-person services, teachers, coaches, and tutors will be waiting with open arms.

“We always play really fun, creative games at the beginning of class, and I can’t wait to run around and laugh with [my students] again soon,” Selby said.

Huston is looking forward to learning from this online experience. “I think that eightened awareness will inform and improve our work even when we go back to teaching in person,” Huston said.

Maintaining a similar routine to typical lifestyles is helpful to get through this difficult time.

“We hope this provides a way for students to keep up their practice as well as keeping our community together during these difficult times,” Forge said. “We would love our community to come out of this stronger together even though we have all been apart.”