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Aligning with the times: Angela’s zoom to shape up Berliners

ALLTAG HEROES! There's nothing like a crisis to convince us we need new skills! P'Berg pilates teacher Angela Roczkov of Pilates-Room-Berlin shaped up a digital strategy to keep her beloved clients well aligned.

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Photo courtesy of Angela Roczkov. The pilates instructor keeps her dedicated flock of clients motivated and moving through video app Zoom.

We all sit too much on our asses and Corona isn’t helping anyone’s posture, that’s for sure. So to keep Berliners’ spines in shape, pilates studios are coming up with remote solutions. One of them, Pilates-Room-Berlin. Hungarian-born pilates instructor Angela Roczkov has never been much of a techie but when Corona regulations had her close her cosy studio in northern Prenzlauer Berg, it was a bit of a do or die situation. “Overnight, people like me were left with zero income, and you still need to live and pay the rent.” Add to that Rozscov was such a popular instructor and her studio so beloved, that when she had to shut down, many regulars asked for private sessions at her home, “I wasn’t too comfortable with that given the whole Corona situation. On the other hand I know how much some of my regulars rely on their weekly sessions. It felt like letting them down.” So when a friend suggested that she started digital classes, she first panicked, “I had no idea how to do it! But then I realised it was my only option.” She had to recruit some assistance (including her 16-year-old son’s) and overcome technological “block” to learn the basics of Zoom video conferencing app. But since the beginning of the week, she’s successfully moved her Pilates Room to the digital world, hosting Corona-safe 60-minute classes to a dedicated flock of pilates enthusiasts. 

Roczkov’s ID says “ballerina”, but after a decade with the Hungarian State Ballet and another as a Broadway ‘cat’, the professional dancer discovered pilates: “I could never go to a fitness studio, I always found it so boring. Pilates engages your brain and body at the same time as you work on the tiniest movements.” A Berliner since 2003, she trained at Pilates Lab Berlin for a year, where she learned about anatomy and the holistic practice of the sport (“It’s about a healthy spine first and foremost, but a strong core improves fitness, too.”). Roczkov then taught there herself for 10 years before taking the entrepreneurial plunge and opening her own studio in the Bötzowkiez, in January 2019. “Just as you think things are starting to go smoothly, the most unexpected happens! Who could have predicted a pandemic would hit Berlin and I would have to teach remotely – through a computer screen for fear to propagate a deadly virus,” she says still incredulous. She confesses she dearly misses the family feel of her studio and the physicality of the bonds she’s developed with her many clients. “But who am I to complain? I want to keep a positive outlook towards the future. This crisis has helped develop solidarity between people, and I think many have realised how precious we are for each other – the community, the neighbourhood, our friends – or my pilates family!’”

So home-recluse and up for a thorough workout in family-friendly atmosphere? All it takes is a smartphone or computer, a reliable internet connection and some sort of yoga mat, perhaps an additional pillow. Sign-up happens via email, the ID to enter the virtual studio is sent upon payment (€15 per session, €120 for 10, €60 for a one-on-one lesson). Once you’ve joined the Zoom session, Roczkov can see her students and vice-versa, so communication and individual feedback is possible at all times. “It is different, but so far it has been working out for all my clients, from the 30-somethings to the over 70s,” she says.

The Corona crisis is pushing some of the least tech-savvy to levels of digital fluency (and spinal balance) they’d never have thought themselves capable of!

Pilates-Room-Berlin, Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Str. 11, Prenzlauer Berg, Tel 01793997049, [email protected].

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