Beating the lockdown blues in Upwey township

Upwey Music Manager Blair Manie is grateful for local support.

With billycart races in the main street, Archibald lookalikes in shop windows and a business owners think tank supported by the Upwey Township Group, Upwey is an energetic town.

Upwey Music sells instruments, parts and accessories. Manager Blair Manie said in a phone interview that the lockdown had brought significant changes but the business had never stopped trading. Purchases are online or by phone for a front door pick-up. Whilst Blair is grateful for the continuing trade, he said explaining the process of distanced purchasing and pickup takes perhaps ten times longer than the usual process.

The nature of sales has also changed. Sadly, career musicians are no longer buying their consumables, like drum sticks, skins or guitar strings, because live performance has abruptly ended. But what has picked up is a surge of interest in both instruments and recording devices from people returning to play after a long break or starting a new instrument. And the most popular instrument? The ukulele, followed by guitar. Who would have guessed?

What does Upwey Music most appreciate from this long lockdown? Blair said he was grateful for the sense of community and people pulling together, deliberately spending their money locally. He is optimistic that the business will survive, but feels for many freelance musicians who have lost gigs and missed out on Jobkeeper.

Maintaining personal fitness is one of many people’s most treasured goals. Upwey’s Pinnacle Health Club and Gym was one of the first to come under the hammer of Covid-19 social restrictions. Owners of the Pinnacle group, Ben and Emma Stallworthy sprang into action early to reimagine operations and maintain the strong social bonds members had built up.

What has the gym done? Introduced free live-streamed and recorded classes for members and also non-members, put memberships on free suspension during closure period, rented out portable equipment for home use and offered one-to-one or small group online remote personal training.

Ben said the response and goodwill has been amazing. Trainers willingly opened their homes to film virtual classes, and members have rallied to the new way of working out together, separately.  As well as filling a gap, remote training sessions bring real advantages by enabling users to choose their time and try out new classes from home without awkwardness.

Always one for total wellbeing, Ben ensures that the gym’s programs – even while remote – include wellness and social connection. So yoga, meditation and family nutrition are major components of the offerings. Nor is the gym only for the young. It offers complimentary Seniors Active sessions and chair yoga. Further, Pinnacle provides free online health and wellbeing sessions for sports clubs and schools restricted to training individually.

Whilst the pandemic brings massive challenges, Ben is confident that the enormous goodwill of his team and members will pull them through. He and Emma are touched by members’ loyalty and are pleased to offer a lifeline of active connection and fitness in this long insidious pandemic.

Judy Wolff

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