Mzanzi people have been inventive during the lockdown.
With people stuck in their homes and kept out of their daily routines, experts worry that people may be picking up bad eating habits and staying away from regular exercise. With the gyms closed, even regular gym-goers have found it difficult to stick to their fitness routines.
As the lockdown shut the gyms closed, the livelihoods of fitness instructors have been wiped out. And instructors had to find a new way to earn a living to put food on the table.
So fitness Instructor, Oelof de Meyer, created Hadada.org, an online platform of live fitness classes. Just like a normal gym, it features different instructors and different types of classes, but people join from the comfort of their own home. All of the classes are live so you get the same interaction and motivation from your instructor that you would be used to in person.
“Like many instructors, after the lockdown happened I tried to do online teaching but it was a struggle. I spent more time on administration and logistics than teaching the actual class, which is the bit I love. It was difficult advertising classes, keeping track of who had signed up and paid, as well as collecting the money. Sending the online links to people was a nightmare and you might have people crashing the class who hadn’t paid.
“It turns out I wasn’t alone. My friends told me they were experiencing similar problems. As a fitness instructor, you love teaching classes and helping people, not getting bogged down in administration” says Oelof.
Hadada.org is super simple – it takes away the logistical nightmare for instructors and it’s easy for users to use. Customers browse the online timetable and simply book and pay for the class they want. When it’s time to join the class, customers log into their account page where they join the class by video-conference.
“For the instructors it means they can set their own timetable and simply turn up to teach. The website takes care of the rest. After I upload my classes for the week, my students have an easy way to securely book, pay, and join the online class.
“Instructors can also reach a much wider audience as the participant can literally be anywhere in the world. I have people joining my class from the UK, Canada and Brazil” says Oelof.
“There’s something special about teaching live and being an appointment. Firstly, being an appointment means people make a commitment to themselves to turn up. It helps them keep their routine. Most or our routines have gone out the window for the past few months, but keeping fitness routines is so important for our wellbeing. Secondly, teaching live classes means I can help give advice on technique and we chat before and after the class. At the moment it might be the only outside interaction some people are having.”
There is no joining or subscription fee. Users simply pay for each class as they go. “It was important that the classes were affordable”, says Oelof. The typical price of an hour-long online class is R40, which is far less than a fast-food meal.
Instructors may also offer monthly packages, which reduce the rate per class.
The hadada is South Africa’s most ‘beloved’ bird. “I chose the name because the hadada bird is South Africa’s natural alarm system – which is why many people don’t like the bird! But I think it is a good reminder that it’s time to get up and live your life despite the bad situation”.
The annual Arnold Classic Africa sports festival partnered with Hadada.org to hosts its Fitness Power Fiesta. Over 10 weeks, 30 instructors will teach over eight disciplines. All participants book through hadada.org.
“Hadada.org has been a blessing. It’s made the admin of organising online classes so easy, and it’s allowed me to focus on what I love. And I’ve even had an opportunity to gain new customers”, says Tania Ndlovu, PILOXING ® Master Trainer for South Africa, who is teaching on the site.
Hadada.org shows that even though South Africans have been forced to stay in their homes, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been active. Oelof is not a web developers, but the lockdown encouraged him to build a website from scratch to help keep people fit and healthy – and to help fitness instructors across the country maintain their livelihoods.