Jaqueline Andrea has been a dance fitness instructor for 12 years. It’s her passion, and in a time of social distancing and self-quarantines, she knew large classes weren’t going to happen.
So she did the next-best thing. She and her fellow instructor friends created a Facebook group to post their classes online.
Sometimes Andrea leads her classes remotely from her Henderson home and other times from a nearby park, but the idea is to keep people dancing.
“What makes me really happy is to dance, and what makes me really happy is to dance with other people,” Andrea said. “Obviously this is not the time to dance with other people.”
Andrea and the other instructors work at valley gyms and invited their regulars to join the Facebook group from home. They hoped to get about 1,000 people on the page, Quarantine with the OGs, when they launched it two weeks ago.
It had more than 5,500 members as of Tuesday afternoon. The lessons are free; just request to join the group and jump into any of the at least three daily classes.
And there’s no shortage of options, as instructors from different dance formats have joined the group that started with Andrea, Ted Sim, Natalie Carpenter and Linda Lamek.
Just as important as the physical activity is giving people a mental break from the fear and anxiety created by the spread of the virus.
“We really want people to move. We really want people to disconnect, at least for the time,” Andrea said. “Music does so good for us, and we know that it will do good for other people.”
Catherine Hutchison, who has been taking Andrea’s classes for years and is now working from home, jumped into the online classes and brought along an unexpected participant — her 5-year-old son, Raymond.
He saw his mom dancing and wanted to be a part of the action, spurring the creation of shorter kids classes.
“He actually gets engaged because there are songs he likes and all that stuff,” Hutchison said. “I stop whatever I’m doing and participate with him as well. It’s definitely good for my mental health.”
Andrea and Sim said they have been floored by the positive reception the Facebook group has received.
“We really need this right now,” one commenter posted online.
Another said, “You guys seem like you know how to have a good moment during this time and we all need to keep moving and be well!”
With fitness centers and other nonessential businesses closed until at least April 30, the online group is filling a hole in the daily routines of not only students but the instructors, too.
“Just like them, we miss the gym,” Sim said. “This is their getaway from the daily stresses of life. … It’s more about being there for people that need it.”