Adapting classes related to sports practices to an online context, using technology, was one of the challenges experienced by teachers and students in this period of pandemic, which required changes in behavior, professional activities and even social relationships.
Currently, there is a consensus that physical activities bring several benefits to the body, such as fighting excess weight, controlling blood pressure, strengthening bones and joints or promoting a feeling of well-being through the release of endorphins after training.
However, people were isolated at home and the practice of physical activities became a necessity. Not just for reasons related to well-being and conditioning, but even as a way to take care of mental health.
Engaging in physical activity in the first few months of the pandemic became complicated as gyms and training centers were closed. Thus, online training was one of the alternatives created by teachers to meet a new demand.
A journey with new challenges
With the first requests for social distancing established in March 2020, students and teachers needed to deepen their level of affinity with technology. Thus, losing the fear of equipment, cameras and online transmissions has become a necessity.
In conversations with professionals in the field, I got to know a little more about this “new normal” and see how technology and social networks have become useful tools to acquire new students, customers, create partnerships and somehow make a difference in people’s lives .
In an interview with Techblog, Filipe Britto, physical educator for 20 years, leader of Britto Assessoria, says that about a year before the pandemic, he had created his company’s website and started his participation in the online world by creating content for social networks.
Before the pandemic, Filipe already assisted companies through consulting with assessments to avoid the absence of employees who are prone to postural problems.
The beginning of the process is done by filling out a form on Google Forms to identify risks and then a video assessment.
If you’re curious about what kind of problems are most commonly found, they are: back, wrist and neck pain, often due to excessive use of computers and cell phones.
Another form of online service that Filipe usually gives are informative lectures for groups of company employees, in which he uses WhatsApp to clarify doubts on the days of the event.
In a way, he was already closer to technology, and the migration to an online class model during the pandemic was an alternative to reduce the impacts on his income. Despite being accelerated, the process turned out to be natural.
Online training, how does it work?
Filipe asks the student to fill out an online questionnaire, then makes a video assessment with it, to find out if the person has any type of restriction. Based on this, he divided his services to students in two ways:
Personal online — In which it creates a video call and during the call it assembles the series of exercises, executes it for the student to see and then follows it live, making necessary corrections, just as it would be done in a gym. The frequency of training is defined between him and the student.
Online Consulting — In this type of service, specific dates are scheduled during the month so that he can create a series of exercises for the student and then a date to assess the progress made.
In this model, a video call is made, in which the student follows a demonstration of the set of exercises, to be performed at home. At this point, it is possible to clarify doubts. If the student wishes to have a video with recorded guidance, it is possible to request, for an extra fee, and receive it through services such as WeTransfer, since the files are large to be sent via WhatsApp.
For Sônia Rocha, Filipe’s student since before the pandemic, the online training started in March 2020 was a natural path and did very well for her mental health, as she was always a sportsman and could not imagine going through a long period without being able to exercise .
She often uses video calls on WhatsApp to carry out her workouts, due to the convenience and habit of using the messenger. Sonia told the Techblog which trains twice a week and even after the end of the pandemic intends to maintain a hybrid model with online training to reduce displacements.
Online Martial Arts: Yes, It’s Possible
I talked about gym physical activities, but what about martial arts instructors? This category was also heavily affected by the pandemic, as gyms, training centers and dojos were closed.
I spoke with Carlos Henrique Patrocínio, black belt, 4th Dan, a practitioner for 20 years and instructor at Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, traditional school of Japanese martial arts, but which is also known as Ninjutsu.
For Carlos, there was a bit of reluctance to start the model of online classes, as martial arts are usually trained in person and often in groups.
The decision to start with online classes came after seven months since the beginning of the pandemic, after its students asked for an alternative to not remain idle for too long. After all, those who stay still forget or lose conditioning.
Carlos has set aside a space in his house, from where he transmits classes using Google Meet. “I initially had an experience with WhatsApp, but it didn’t work out very well and then the model was consolidated with Meet”, he informed the Techblog.
As in the previous case, the trainings are personalized, considering the student’s graduation and his aptitude for techniques. “A black belt student will have a different training composition than a lower-graded student, just as different people receive different training.”
The practice of Ninjutsu (and other martial arts) involves certain risks for beginners and specific difficulties regarding movement. For safety reasons, Carlos decided not to accept students who had never been a practitioner, as some basic movements involve jumping and falling.
The training lasts an hour and the content is set up for each student, following a script with warm-up, breathing exercises, movement, basic techniques involving punches and kicks and more advanced techniques with weapons such as swords or batons, always considering awareness the practitioner’s body.
Vanessa Araújo trains twice a week and was one of Carlos’ first online students. For her, who lives with elderly parents, the training was important, to keep pace and not forget techniques until she can be vaccinated.
Among their biggest difficulties were establishing stable transmissions, as sometimes the connection didn’t help. The other difficulty is the one you must have imagined: physical space.
After all, practicing martial arts in an apartment requires some adaptations, such as organizing objects in the environment and making careful movements so as not to destroy one’s house or make trouble with neighbors.
Even with the adaptations, Vanessa considers that online training was a good way to keep the spirit of the dojo alive.
This is in line with what Carlos tries to do on Saturdays, when he usually gathers his students online. He usually does this, not just to train, but to promote interaction between the group that ended up being estranged during the pandemic and to maintain the bond created between practitioners.
Shortage of resources during the pandemic
A curious fact: here at Techblog, we see a lot of news about the increase in the prices of electronic components, due to the drop in the pace of production due to the pandemic. This made our dear computers, cell phones, consoles and the like reach prices of a level considered “the sky is the limit”.
However, during the pandemic, other categories suffered similarly. In the case of physical education professionals, items such as mini bands, dumbbells and shin pads became difficult to find as demand increased, delivery times became longer and of course prices were much higher than usual during part of the year 2020.
WhatsApp, the Brazilian’s favorite
Another curious point about the conversations I had was the students’ preference for using WhatsApp to teach and consult, instead of using more specific applications like Zoom and Google Meet.
The justifications range from the custom of using the messenger in everyday life to the difficulty of having to learn to use another application. Even though the other apps also have mobile versions, as Filipe said: “The student wants practicality. Turn on the camera, position the phone and start class.”
When attending to companies or in lectures, it is common to use Zoom, but according to Filipe, around 80% of his attendances and individual classes are done through WhatsApp, while the rest is divided between Zoom and Skype.
Regardless of the justification, this is understandable, after all, the most popular messaging app in the country is present in 99% of cell phones in Brazil, according to the Panorama Mobile Time/Opinion Box survey, released in 2020.
It is also worth remembering that in 2020 the messenger reached the mark of 2 billion users in the world, while Brazil was considered the second country with the most users of the application, only behind India in a survey conducted by the eMarketer website in 2019.
Social networks, lives and partnerships with other areas
In 2020 we had a period of “boom” involving the creation of lives, for reasons of people being away. Yes, dear reader, this subject of lives is a little saturated. However, many professionals in the field of physical education and other segments have invested in broadcasts in partnership with professionals from other areas.
Filipe informed that because of his Instagram lives, he ended up meeting other professionals and partnering with professionals such as doctors and nutritionists linked to the sports area.
Changes for the post-pandemic
In 2021, many isolation measures were reduced and, although vaccination in our country continues slowly, the tendency is for life to return to something closer to the “old normal”. However, the online model seems to be something that is here to stay.
For the interviewees, although the trend is that the amount of in-person training will once again exceed online training. Many students intend to continue with online classes for several reasons: to reduce expenses, avoid having to travel or simply because some now reside in other states or countries. Filipe has students in Minas Gerais and Carlos has a student who is in England, for example.
Technology to help with socialization
Online classes can be useful for maintaining fitness, saving time, and other practical goals. An interesting aspect seen in the interviews was the importance of classes as a tool for socialization and interaction, especially during the pandemic, in which we were all forced to distance ourselves from people at different levels.
Both professionals reported that many people who have become lonely — or have a problem with family relationships — see the teacher/coach/sensei as a trustworthy figure, with whom they can often let off steam, talk or simply interact. Although these professionals are not therapists and make this clear, they say they feel happy making a difference in students’ lives, even at a distance through online classes.