Independent companies are finding new and inventive ways to keep it business as usual during the Covid-19 outbreak.

As part of our Backing Local Business campaign, the Guardian is shining a spotlight on the firms that are innovating to survive the coronavirus crisis.

ON a ‘normal’ week, you’d usually find Karen Rogers’ exercise coaches and clients jumping up and down in a field in Hartford or Knutsford.

The owner of wellbeing company Fit for Life Mums is a huge advocate of working out in the great outdoors.

She and her team help around 200 members build and maintain their health and fitness by running daily group exercise sessions in the fresh air.

But Government rules around social distancing mean this is currently not an option for the business, so Karen has had to think fast to keep her business moving forward and the community she’s built connected.

Thanks to the wonder of social platform Zoom, the group sessions are still up and running – they just look a little different with each coach and member taking part in the safety of their own home or garden.

Northwich Guardian:

Karen said: “We've suddenly had to move indoors and not only that, away from our members too.

“In break-neck speed we set up everything needed to deliver online but still deliver interactive sessions to our members.”

Staff and members have had to get used to using new technology and adjust to a different way of delivery, but the feedback to date has been positive.

Karen said: “The biggest challenge has been the volume of work to get things done in such a short space of time, plus the process of education for everyone – ourselves, our coaches, our support staff, our members. Lots of grey matter has been stimulated over the past few weeks.

“I think what has surprised me is how amazing the sessions still are. I thought we'd really lose the coaching element and struggle to provide accountability for our members.

“But the sessions we’re providing aren't just online, where you follow along, they're interactive too – so we're still able to coach, correct and motivate.”

In addition to fitness sessions, Karen has added a social aspect to the business, to maintain the connections and relationships while people are in isolation.

She added: “The community aspect of what we do is huge, so we've also created chill sessions, quiz nights and just general hosted chats so that the members can still stay together, even when they're not physically seeing each other.

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“One of the biggest positives I’ve taken from this is how resilient we all are, how we can take on a challenge and smash it.

“I can't say we had any expectations, but we've been blown away by the support and positivity from the group. Members are now able to attend many more sessions than they usually do and are taking full advantage of it.

“They love that they can work out from home, no childcare issues, no travelling and can fit work around sessions too.”

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