In a challenging landscape for local sports organizations, Excel Martial Arts is using technology to stay connected with students.
Excel announced Tuesday that online classes will be offered using the ZOOM meeting platform.
The club is running two 20 minute classes each day, Monday through Friday – a beginner’s class at 5 p.m. and an intermediate/advanced class at 6 p.m.
Excel is also offering its Little Heroes class for ages 4-6, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m.
“The main reason for me to do this is to keep a connection with the students,” said Excel’s Adam Gibson. “We do say it and we do live it, that this is a family business and the students are part of our martial arts family.”
In early tries, the online model has worked well.
“It’s been really smooth and easy,” Gibson said. “I was nervous because I’d never done this before. I’ve never not done a class in person before, but it went well and the parents were really happy with it.”
In fact, the new format offered up a couple surprises.
Leah Vernon is a black belt who moved to Texas last year, and she logged on to the online class
“Leah trained her for a number of years and she’s now doing martial arts in Texas,” Gibson said. “She’s kept in contact and she jumped on this online idea.
“And we also had a totally unexpected kid from Kamloops. He came online and I was like, ‘Who is this kid?’ His family has never had the time for him to try out any martial arts before, but when they saw it online he wanted to participate. His mom sent a message saying they were excited and appreciative, so that was awesome.”
It falls under the category of positive unintended consequences.
Thanks to COVID-19, Gibson believes he may have stumbled upon something he can use long after this pandemic is over.
“I think we’re going to keep the video option open, maybe not the way it is now, but maybe for private lessons or for people who are stuck at home and can’t train,” he said. “I think we’ve stumbled upon a tool that’s going to continue to be helpful in the future.”
Excel is also posting daily challenges on its Facebook page, challenging students to take a video of themselves completing the challenge and send it in.
”Maybe people are feeling a bit lonely and they’re not able to be as active as they normally are, so this is a way to help them be active at home,” Gibson said. “And it’s a way to build camaraderie between the students.
“A lot of the exercises are simple. Nothing too crazy about it. Maybe someone else sees them doing it and thinks, ‘That person’s being active. I’m going to participate too.’
“I think there are a lot of people sitting at home not feeling too good about things right now, so this is also a way to stay positive.”