A SALFORD dance teacher is combatting the impact of Covid-19 by moving her classes online so her young students can remain active and involved.

Hannah Jackson, a qualified dance teacher for over 15 years, set up Pendlebury-based Empowered Studios in April 2015, where she teaches people of all ages and abilities and regularly scores wins at regional and national competitions.

"Before the coronavirus lockdown the studio was at its peak and we were looking forward to celebrating our fifth Anniversary on April 25," said Hannah. "Empowered serves students from across Greater Manchester and is an important part of their lives.

"I was really sad when I had to close the studio without saying goodbye to my students. As a business owner, it was also an extremely worrying time too as I’ve worked incredibly hard to make Empowered Studios the success it is".

Determined not to let the crisis stop her, Hannah decided to move her classes online as people were confined to their homes.

"After a few sleepless nights I decided to launch an online timetable," she said. "I contacted all our students and gave them the option to continue their training online via Zoom.

"Students log on using my secure meeting ID and passwords and participate in a class where they can see the teacher and I see them, enabling me to give corrections and feedback. They can also see and talk to their class mates, so they are still getting some social interaction.

"I was aware that so many people are now no longer financially able to commit to to such privileges, such as dance classes, so we also offered a weekly fun choreography session and a free daily stretch class to keep as many of our students active as possible.

"It’s all done safely and securely and we have made sure that students take care not put themselves at risk of injury in the home environment with the support of our parents, who have been incredible".

According to Hannah, the online lessons provide a distraction from the stresses of the current situation and give students the chance to have fun with their loved ones.

"The response from students has been brilliant," she said. "They love their Empowered family and they love to dance. Technology means they can continue see their friends and do what they love, which is incredibly important at a time when so many people are feeling isolated.

"Empowered is like a second home for so many of my students and their families. As well as the classes, we have multiple social media groups where we can all keep in touch and help each other through these challenging times.

"I set weekly homework for the students and challenges for the parents. We have even had a talent show where the whole family could get involved.

"I have an amazing team of teachers who are all on hand to provide extra work and lesson content, teach free sessions and provide feedback for the students.

"I have had so many messages from parents to say how much the program is helping and it has given the students something to look forward to, focus on and work towards.

"They are seeing and talking to their friends and exercising on a daily basis. The fantastic support from the parents that are still supporting Empowered, combined with the support from the Government, have meant that I am able to continue and can be confident that when the time is right, we will return stronger than ever".

Cramped flats and houses might not always lend themselves to exuberant shimmying and shaking, but Hannah feels this is the perfect time for people to give dancing a go as we all look for ways of keeping fit mentally and physically.

Dance has so many benefits," she added. "It improves the condition of the heart and lungs, gives us increased muscular strength, endurance and aerobic fitness. Dance develops coordination, agility, flexibility and balance. As well as the many health benefits it also improves confidence and is an excellent way for children and adults alike to meet new people and make friends.

"There are so many ways we can get more dance into our daily routines; from free online tutorials to dancing to listening to our favourite songs while preparing dinner! I would challenge anyone to give it a go and say it didn’t make them feel happier!"

Once the lockdown is over I know lots of people are going to be looking for additional hobbies and they’d be very welcome to come along and try a class at Empowered Studios.