Over the course of the last three months, the stability and safety of his students has been Craig Harmer's number one priority.
When the COVID-19 lockdowns went into place, Harmer was forced to close the Goulburn Martial Arts Academy, which he owns and at which he is the head instructor.
That was when Harmer, who understands the particular importance of continuity for his students, decided to become a qualified COVID safe instructor.
"I did two courses on COVID certification," Harmer said.
"I've got kids, I understand what they're going through so you can put yourself in other people's shoes.
"It was important for us to be in a position so that the moment the restrictions were lifted, we could hit the ground running."
During the three-month layoff, Harmer ran Zoom classes free for his members and did his best to support those who had lost their jobs.
"During the lockdown, we were running zoom lessons for free for our members to maintain that social connection, even though they didn't have the capacity to make payments," he said.
"We just tried to help people out who needed help."
The GMAA opened its doors for business once again on June 15 with some limitations, and Harmer was excited to announce that it will be back to full operation as of today.
"We're now in phase three of the return to play under COVID restrictions, whereas before we were a bit limited," he said.
"It's a relief, though we're still waiting on some things to come into place as in members return. Unfortunately some members lost their jobs, so hopefully once the economy picks up, our membership will accordingly."
As is the case for many sporting organisations and locally-owned businesses, the academy's coffers took a hit during the lockdown due to decreased membership.
However, Harmer is optimistic that things will soon return to normal, and said the best way forward is for the community to espouse virtues of kindness and support.
"Everyone understands what we've got to do," he said.
"I know we haven't seen much of the virus in Goulburn, but what is very real is the restrictions that are in place. I know five martial arts gyms in Canberra have closed for good, so whether we think it's real or not, the ramifications are real.
"I'm hopeful we'll return to normal, but it's going to take time. As long as everyone can come to the party, we all take a bit of a hit, but everyone will get back to where they were before COVID.
"I think it's about community business partnerships coming together."
Though martial arts rely heavily on person-to-person contact, Harmer assured his students that all possible safety and health measures will be undertaken.
"We're following the cleanliness guidelines as best we can," he said.
"During the classes, we'll try to maintain social distancing. We're trying to be realistic with what we can achieve, which is all anyone can do."
While the club is back up and running, competitions may not return as quickly.
As the vice-president of the Australian branch Chan Hun International TaeKwon-Do Federation (CHITF), Harmer said the resurgence of COVID cases in Melbourne has made large-scale competition unlikely to return any time soon.
"At this stage, we're lucky that we hosted one earlier this year, we're one of the only organisations that had a competition run," he said.
"Maybe later this year, but there certainly won't be any international travel. We've got a large membership base in Victoria and Melbourne, so they're going to be feeling the brunt of this for some time.
"There are also a number of clubs in NSW, so they'll be hitting the ground running like we are. Maybe we'll get together and do some training with those guys."
The clubs who do reopen, Harmer said, must remember their responsibility not just to their members, but the entire community.
"If we go to competitions and someone's exposed, we can't bring it back to the wider community," he said. "We can't jump the gun too early and go back to where we were.
"People don't want to go back to where we were three months ago, it would be devastating."
For further details about the GMAA training schedule, please visit its Facebook page or website.
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