Not only are fitness and dance instructors like Paolo Salazar dealing with the global crisis but also the uncertainty of their jobs
Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo courtesy of Paolo Salazar
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the fitness industry. Not only are fitness instructors dealing with the health crisis but they’re also managing the uncertainties of their careers. It’s a tough situation to be in. But how are they coping in these times?
For Paolo Salazar, a freelance aerobic dancer at Slimmers World, it’s about following his this mantra: “Sayaw laban sa COVID-19.” It’s the same mantra that Salazar has been preaching to what he refers to as his gracious clients and students—the same people who have been helping him sustain his family during this crisis.
Twenty-four-year-old Salazar was raised in Laguna where he often watched his mother and grandmother dance. He believes that the passion for dancing was passed on to him as a kid, which he eventually made a living out of. Currently, Salazar is living with his girlfriend Riza, with whom he is also raising a toddler. Here, we spoke with Salazar on the perils the pandemic that has unleashed on instructors like him and how exactly they’re still able to put on their dancing shoes.
What was your full-time job before the pandemic hit?
I’m a freelance dance fitness instructor at Slimmers World. I teach a different style/genre of dance with a combination of workout. At Slimmers World, this is often referred to as dance fusion and modern type of aerobics. I teach in five branches, specifically Pasay Road, Legaspi, Trafalgar, Megamall, and Greenhills.
The enhanced community quarantine has ceased gym operations. How has this affected you?
It’s really tough since we lost our jobs and are not getting any income now. Teaching at Slimmers World was my full-time work and my bread and butter before quarantine started. I think gyms will be one of the last to start operations again so I had to find another way to make a living through Facebook.
How did you adjust to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’ve resorted to doing online dance classes now via Facebook Live. I made a private group called “quaranTEAM” where I request a fee from my generous clients and students per dance session. I don’t have an exact fee but my viewers right now just graciously send what they can to my bank account. But starting May, I might have my own fixed rates already. By doing live classes, I am earning enough to sustain my family’s needs.
What else do you plan to do in order to get through this tough time?
Aside from online classes, I also want to focus on enhancing my skills and knowledge by discovering new dance styles I can pick up on YouTube. By learning more dance skills, I can incorporate these into my choreography and with the different techniques I know—which I can share to my students.
What advice would you give to other fitness instructors or freelance dancers like you?
Focus on doing what you love, [which is] dancing. Ignore the negativity because there will always be people who will believe in you, acknowledge you, and help you through these tough times. Do what you love for your clients and students and the rest will follow.
You can join and support Paolo Salazar’s dance classes through his Facebook group page.