COVID-19: Conshohocken Dojo Offers Mask-Free Outdoor Classes

At Destolfo’s Premier Martial Arts in Conshohocken, students can work out mask-free in the parking lot or take socially distanced lessons online.

Montgomery County entered the green phase of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 safety guidelines on Friday, June 26. Gyms in the county are now open both indoors and outdoors at up to 50% capacity.

One martial arts gym, Destolfo’s Premier Martial Arts in Conshohocken, has been hosting outdoor hybrid classes, featuring a mix of in-person and online instruction. Destolfo’s also offers some indoor, in-person classes which require a mask and are mostly attended by children. The outdoor classes are popular among adults, and masks are optional.

David Copertino has been doing martial arts for the last seven years and was excited to attend classes after quarantine restrictions were lifted.

“The outdoor classes are working out really, really good,” Copertino said. “We’ve got great instructors. I’ve been doing some indoors [classes] lately with a mask. It’s just good to be back with the group.”

Each student is spaced away from others, according to CDC guidelines, and students can opt to continue learning online if they’d like.

“The adults like it outside,” Mary Destolfo, one of the owners of Destolfo’s Premier Martial Arts and an instructor, said. “They’d rather stay outside than come inside.”

The outdoor classes are popular among those who’d prefer to go maskless, she added.

“As a matter of fact, one of our old Tae Kwon Do [students] just came and said, ‘No, no I want to work outside because I can’t wear a mask,’” Mary Destolfo said. “So, most of them seem really good with it.”

When business abruptly came to a halt in the middle of March due to the coronavirus, the Destolfos were forced to take their operations online, offering lessons over Zoom.

“We kind of hopped on it pretty quickly,” Danyelle Destolfo, Mary Destolfo’s daughter-in-law and an instructor at the school, said. “Within a few days, we went right on to Zoom. We wanted to stay ahead of the game there.”

Many parents with children at home and exhausted with home schooling were thrilled.

“A lot of parents have reached out to us about how positive it is,” Danyelle Destolfo said. “We were even ahead of the school districts, so the kids had nothing [else] to do.”

Still, Destolfo’s youngest students seemed excited to attend in-person classes again.

“It was hard for the children to continue to learn virtually,” Danyelle Destolfo said. “We all need that social interaction to thrive.”

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