Many of us are focusing on our health as we go into a challenging Autumn and Winter -our local well-being centre Earthlife offers a tranquil space underneath the arches of Kew Bridge. Hilde Bysheim tells how she and her team have, very carefully and with huge enthusiasm, reopened the doors to welcome clients back, and are also continuing to offer fitness and well-being online.

“We have so enjoyed being back at Earthlife – it’s been a fascinating challenge to reopen our business as we move through the pandemic!   We’ve had to work very hard to get things ready.   There were risk assessments to write, cleaning and sanitising schedules to prepare, PPE to be bought, and ever-changing guidelines from Government and Professional Bodies to absorb.  We’ve been training our staff and, of course, keeping all our clients informed and reassured.  Earthlife has been established in Kew for over 16 years now; we survived the financial crisis in 2007 and we are determined to find our way through these challenging times too!

We had to act swiftly when lockdown came about – we were up and running on-line within 4 days.  The response from our regular clients was amazing, with over three-quarters attending our online Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Lotte Berk classes.  Some of their responses explain what it meant to them over the past 4 months – and these also mean so much to us, so I’d like to share them with you:

“Just as good as face to face classes, the teachers are excellent and quick to spot if you’re not doing the moves correctly (they have eyes like hawks!) I would definitely recommend.”

“Earthlife’s online classes are simply fabulous! Students receive the same level of attention as we did in the classroom, and with top-notch instructors. These classes have made a huge contribution to my health and well-being throughout lockdown.”

“Earthlife’s online classes were a highpoint of lockdown. They were simple to join and fun to take part in. They made it easy to take up a new activity and I always looked forward to my weekly Tai Chi online sessions.”

“I have really appreciated the classes moving online during lockdown. The teachers have been so upbeat and encouraging which has provided a sense of much needed ‘normality’ during these unprecedented times. Hilde’s vision and creativity to set this up at short notice is to be applauded.”

“Taking time out of each week to do online teen yoga classes has helped me to relax, de-stress and stretch. It has brought stability and balance to an otherwise very unsure time.”

Then came July and we were able to resume what the Government has named ‘Close Contact Services’ – our lovely and greatly beneficial treatments.  We reopened on 16th July for Massages, Reflexology and Acupuncture and the remaining therapies will gradually be available from September onwards.

Of course, we’ve always had top-professional hygiene practices at Earthlife, but with the Covid-19 Pandemic we have implemented new strategies and procedures to enhance client and therapist safety.  We’ve very carefully worked through all the following:

  • Therapists taking and noting down their temperature every time they are in
  • Covid-19 specific questionnaire emailed to all clients 24-48 hours before treatment
  • Staggered appointments and a 30 min gap between clients
  • Air Purifiers on all day and 4 hours after closing
  • All surfaces and touch points cleaned and sanitised after each client
  • All towels and linens changed between each client and washed at 60C
  • Therapists wears Aprons, Masks and Visors, as well as gloves if treating any Vulnerable/Moderate Risk Clients (pregnant; over 70; lung/heart/kidney/liver/nerve condition)
  • All clients have to wear a mask on arrival/exit and for as long as they are face up on the couch.

We are now working on re-opening the studio for some of our classes – as you may guess from what I have written above, it will be a fascinating challenge that we’re determined to carry out conscientiously, to bring people together again!

We have always run small classes with a maximum of 9-10 people, to ensure individual attention and so that the instructor can ensure that everyone is exercising safely and correctly.  We will now make these classes smaller in order to respect social distancing.  (In order to do this, the class prices have to increase a little). Other careful changes for everyone’s safety are:

  • Classes will have a break in between – we’ll take a minimum of 30 min to air out and clean all surfaces and floor in between, the timetable will thus change accordingly
  • Clients will be asked to bring their own mats and any equipment to class and place their mats at the marked spaces on the floor
  • Instructors will guide from a distance – not relying on hands-on corrections
  • Our back doors will be left open to allow for air flow, there will also be Air Purifiers running all day – do perhaps remember to wear layers to stay comfortable!
  • Sanitising stations will be placed at entrance/exit points as well as in the studio

All of these procedures have, of course, been implemented for your and our safety.   We will continue to take advice from the Government, our Professional Bodies and the NHS regarding safe practice and will update them as necessary.

Some of our clients are very keen to get back in the studio, whilst others are enjoying online classes – so we’ll aim to run both.  We’re all doing our very best to build on our health and well-being as we go into Autumn!

Hilde Bysheim,
Earthlife Wellbeing & Fitness