When the news came down that the illness quotient of COVID-19 would cause a national shutdown, Ryan Arndt, head instructor of ATA Martial Arts, said he knew he was going to have to take adaptive measures because the life and death of his school would depend upon it.

So, just like the rest of America, Arndt ‘Zoom’-ed into action.

“When I heard that they were going to probably shut things down, I had done Zoom meetings for other business things but never for taekwondo so I was like I have to create this account and get this thing going because they were no other options to keep the school open,” Arndt began. “If we would have shut down for two months, or three months, we wouldn’t be able to open back up again. So we knew we had to find a way to persevere through this.

“Because it was going to be a sink or swim kind of thing.”

So Arndt relocated some mats from his studio in City Plaza to the garage of his home and almost immediately began broadcasting his sessions. The decision paid dividends.

“Our students are still paying their normal tuition,” Arndt said about how he’s utilized Zoom to keep the studio from being closed completely. “North Dakota has been good to work with maintaining our student population. We haven’t enrolled any new students which has been difficult at this time but we’ve had amazing participation from the parents now, like holding targets for their family members and being partners for self-defense drills so we’ve seen more parent involvement that help us grow that way as a martial arts family.” 

Continued Arndt, “I’ll say about 90 percent of our students have participated. The majority of our families have stuck with us and have been with us now with attendance being very consistent and the results have been pretty good. The students focus has been really good with the online learning but we’re definitely looking forward to a soft opening next week.”

ATA Martial Arts has had its entrance barred since the coronavirus reached pandemic status but with Phase 1 of the North Dakota Smart Restart kicking off today, it will allow ATA to lift the bars and welcome students inside the studio for the first time in over a month.

ATA Martial Arts is categorized as a fitness center, one of the three industry divisions that Governor Doug Burgum is allowing to reopen, as long as these businesses following the protocols that has been set, such as limiting group classes to one participant/staff per 100 square feet or 10x10 grid layout and developing times for sessions to have time in between for cleaning/disinfecting of the studio and allow for dry times. 

That means more work for Arndt who will add classes, increasing his class load from four to six days a week to accommodate his current roster and hopefully more students once everything has settled. And when the students return on Monday to see Arndt in the flesh again (without physical contact), they’ll have a better instructor.

“We had to get better at articulating and explaining directions, turns and movements without that physical contact, without being able to physically adjust to the student and show them how it suppose to feel. Being able to talk someone through physical motion, that’s a difficult thing so Zoom helped in helping to talk a student through a pattern” Arndt said.

“Even as we reopen, we’re still not going to be able to touch a student but we’ll be in the same room to physically demonstrate a little bit better.”