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Olsons taking the class to the kids via video conferencing

Joe Avento • Mar 29, 2020 at 10:00 AM

When the kids couldn’t come to Olson’s Martial Arts Academy for class anymore, there wasn’t any reason to cancel it.

The Olsons have brought the class to the students, thanks to Zoom.

Using the popular video conferencing app, Glenn and Amanda Olson and their family of instructors are keeping their classes going in the virtual world. With son Keith and daughter Katie helping things run smoothly, the students work on their taekwondo forms from home while the instructor watches each one on a big screen. They can see the instructor as well.

“It’s been great,” Glenn Olson said. “Parents are loving it because it’s giving the kids a good workout and some structure. It’s giving them an outlet for their energy.

“Once we decided on it, we jumped right into it. We just educated our students on how to use the system.”

The kids — several at a time — take the classes in the comfort of their homes while their schools are all closed because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“It’s designed like a cardio and strength workout and a regular class,” Olson said. “It gives them a good workout and they also work on their curriculum.

“We do a leadership lesson that’s pretty valuable too. We’ve been telling them how can they help in this situation, how they’re not supposed to leave the house, how they can help their parents around the house and things like that.”

In addition to the Zoom classes, the Olsons have a Youtube channel that offers even more workouts.

Of course, with any new venture comes some uncertainty, and running classes without excited kids filling the room has taken some getting used to.

“There’s been a learning curve with it on what works when you ask the group to do something,” Olson said. “If they’re in class they can all stay together and do 20 jumping jacks together. Here, they don’t see each other and the dynamics change a little bit. You don’t get the energy of 40 kids yelling right in front of you.

“The kids aren’t distracted as much. Everybody’s just looking at me or the instructor on the screen. They don’t really notice the difference. I think the instructors notice more.”

The classes are divided up by age groups and include sessions for adults as well. They’re not just for current students, either. The Olsons are signing up new members just for the virtual classes.

“We’ve been marketing just for new online students, people who aren’t members here but want to do martial arts for their child or themselves,” Olson said.

A sign outside the Olsons’ school says “Stay active, stay positive.”

“We’re doing what we can,” Olson said. “So far, it’s been awesome.”

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