Ria established Bhangra Fit Leamington when she moved to Leamington a couple of years ago as she wanted to share her passion for Bhangra dancing with the local community and encourage women of all ages to be active.
Before the Covid-19 lockdown, Ria ran her weekly Bhangra Fit classes from the gym at Trinity School. Aimed specifically for women, Ria wanted the sessions to be fun, friendly and give women the confidence to try something new and be active.
‘Bhangra fit isn’t just about getting moving but also encourages dedication and a passion to learn something new. I try and make the classes as fun as possible and build a sense of community………… When new ladies join, I always make a conscious effort to follow up with all new people to see how people enjoy it and for feedback’
Ria said, ‘When the lockdown started, I didn’t want to let my ladies down, I wanted to try and give my ladies the opportunity to keep doing Bhangra fit and stay active at home’.
Ria started running live sessions on Facebook and Instagram. The response was really positive, from both existing and new participants with people joining in from as far away as Italy and Dubai as well as some of the Think Active Team! After about 6 weeks, Ria moved the sessions to Zoom to encourage a more consistent following and to allow more interaction with the participants.
As soon as the lockdown was lifted, Ria was keen to get her sessions back up and running, although this meant running the class outdoors rather than inside.
Ria identified a hardstanding area at Newbold Comyn in Leamington. As there was no electricity, she bought a portable speaker so she could play music and cones so that she could mark out the area so that everyone was appropriately socially distanced.
Ria promoted the sessions through local community Facebook pages as well as to her pre lockdown participants. Ria made it clear on the marking materials the additional measures which had been put in place to ensure the latest guidelines were being met. She said ‘I want to make the ladies feel safe when they come to Bhangra Fit so I remind everyone of the rules when they sign in’.
New Covid-19 measures include:
- Outdoor sessions
- All participants have to pre book
- Numbers restricted to latest guidance
- Cones marked out 2m spaces and participants asked not to touch the cones
- Participants asked to bring their own water and any props required for the dancing
- Participants reminded not to attend if they have Covid symptoms.
Ria is currently running two sessions a week. Videos of the sessions are shared on local community social media pages to promote the sessions. Ria said ‘there has been an overwhelming response for more information, I think it’s because the sessions are fun and are a bit different to other ways of being active’ Since the sessions started outside, she has welcomed over 25 new ladies along-side her regulars, only a small handful have decided not to return until the sessions can return to indoors.
Ria said ‘the ladies love the sessions being outside, the only pitfall is the weather, but we’ve been lucky, it’s only rained once…….. The area we use is surrounded by trees which means the ladies don’t feel too self-conscious although, passes by will stop and watch what’s going on but nobody seems to mind.
As the nights start to draw in, Ria is hoping to return to running the sessions indoors and at their original location, although she has yet to confirm this with the venue. Before Lockdown the group had started to perform at local events, and in time Ria would like to do more community performances to showcase what the ladies can do. Ria said ‘I like to help my ladies to feel like they have achieved something, build their confidence and feel part of a community’
Abi Dixon, Think Active said;
“Bhangrafit Leamington is a great example of community based activity that continued to engage their participants over lockdown and have managed to re start their activity, adapting to ensure they meet the Covid-19 guidelines. Ria’s approach to running the sessions makes them fun and inclusive to all women in the local community. It’s so great that new participants have joined the regulars to be active during these challenging times. Think Active have helped to promote the sessions over social media and connected them with the Local Social Prescribing Link in the area to help ensure as many women as possible have the opportunity to benefit from getting more active in a way that suits them”