The Coast News Group
North County Martial Arts
The after-school program at the North County Martial Arts studio in Carlsbad is on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the studio does virtual sessions with elementary students to fill the loss of physical education classes at schools. Courtesy photo

Martial arts studio offers virtual PE for students

CARLSBAD — Exercise routines have changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic took over the state and country. And for children, especially those in school, their daily recess and physical education classes have ended.

Parents have filled those roles, but so has Carlsbad-based North County Martial Arts. The studio has engaged elementary school students, offering some free classes to help expend their energy through virtual martial arts programs, according to owner Jennifer Bettis-Jones.

“We had an after-school program that met the needs of many working parents,” Bettis-Jones said. “When we ended up in the situation to close down (March 16) … we ended up going immediately going into virtual classes.”

Samantha Ryder, an instructor, said NCMA provided academic support in addition to physical fitness. Both are black belts in the Tang Suo Do, a Korean-based discipline.

Being active helps a person’s mindset, especially children. And during quarantine and under stay-at-home orders by the state and county, youngsters need an outlet. So, the studio transitioned to a virtual setting to allow its current members an opportunity to stay active.

Additionally, it knew other students needed a release, so they started reaching out to several local schools to engage those children.

“We’re big believers that the physical will have a huge effect on that mental,” Ryder said. “We were running over 60 hours of training and online classes a week.”

Bettis-Jones said many students relayed messages of how they were struggling to adapt to a new lifestyle, where so many options had been eliminated. One goal was to re-establish a routine for the children, which has been successful.

Another benefit has been the youngsters roping their parents into joining their sessions as a way for the parents to relieve some stress and inject some exercise into their day.

It spurred “Family Friday,” while they were also building out their reach with schools to recruit students to join the free sessions.

Bettis-Jones and Ryder separated the classes with K through second grade and grades third through fifth among the instructors. The sessions are two, 30-minute sessions per group per school, Ryder said.

“The classes … cater to those age groups,” she added. “We came up with a curriculum that would follow the standard core guidelines that your typical everyday physical education class would have.”