Where I Work: Fi Clark, a yoga instructor teaching lockdown classes on Instagram

Our weekday series Where I Work has been exploring how people are working from home in lockdown, from creating makeshift desks to radically adjusting what a business offers.

Today we’re chatting with Fi Clark, 37, who’s been the head of yoga at FLY LDN studio for the last two years.

Her job usually involves a lot of time in the London studio, teaching classes, managing yoga teachers, doing auditions, and organising brand events and collaborations.

Now, since the coronavirus pandemic pushed us into lockdown, Fi has been teaching yoga on the FLY LDN Instagram page from her flat in Greenwich.

Hi, Fi! Talk us through your working space in lockdown

I teach my IGTV and Zoom classes from the lounge, so in prep for a class the sofa is pushed out of the way, the rug is rolled away and there’s always a last minute hoover session, as we have wooden floors so there’s constant dust everywhere!

I have a Yogi Bare mat that was kindly gifted to me and is bright red, so it really stands out on screen. I also use my boyfriends old school trunk as a prop to help create a sense of a cosy space.

I try to teach without props as much as possible as I’m aware people are joining from home, and so may not have yoga blocks and straps. However, when I teach my CHILL (YIN) class I use cushions and a blanket as props, as YIN yoga is prop heavy by nature.

What’s a working day like at the moment?

The time of my classes differs daily, but if I don’t teach the morning class at 8am I’ll be up doing a workout or going for a walk along the river. I then make breakfast and get my laptop fired up to check emails.

I’ve been doing a lot of filming for our FLY LDN YouTube, IGTV and brand collaborations such as Sweaty Betty and Perff Studios, so I’ll plan and film what I need to.

I cook lunch most days for me and my boyfriend, and we alternate dinner duties.

I’ll make sure I practice either yoga or Pilates each day alongside the classes I teach to keep my body and mind happy, strong and flexible.

Most evenings we go out to watch the sunset over the river before dinner, sometimes with a glass of wine to end the day. We love watching horror films, so we’ve been catching up on some of the classics during lockdown.

How do you stay focused and get stuff done when working from home?

My rule is no lie-ins on work days! The way that you start your day often lays the path to how productive you’ll feel throughout the day. It also helps that my boyfriend gets up early to start work too and he’s very loud so there’s no chance of sleeping though it!

After breakfast I write a list of what I need to achieve that day and break the day down into time slots to make sure there’s some form of routine. In that list are breaks for lunch/walk/cycle and rest.

I also use my intuition and some days I have a lot more energy than others, so I don’t allow myself to feel guilty if I need more rest on certain days. I ensure I don’t try to be over-productive and end the day feeling disappointed if I didn’t tick everything off.

How are you doing mentally in lockdown?

Overall I’ve embraced the situation and have tried to focus on the benefits of not having to commute for 2+ hours a day, having more time to plan my day to ensure I’m meeting my needs in terms of what I eat, when I rest and even simple things like taking time to read my book in the middle of the day to reset my mind.

It’s also been great to spend time with my boyfriend, which has made our relationship even stronger as during the week we don’t usually see much of each other due to our work schedules.

Of course there have been times where it’s felt overwhelming and I’ve missed my friends, family and everyone at the studio a lot (I’m definitely not meant to be a lone wolf, I love being around people). But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of being in lockdown and I have a word with myself if I start to overthink things, because when the time comes when we can be reunited with our loved ones it will be so incredible.

My appreciation for my network and community has never been so strong.

Have you found this new way of working challenging?

Initially it was pretty terrifying teaching to a phone knowing there were 150+ people on the other side, but not visible. After the first few classes the fear subsided and it’s now second nature.

The benefits of having to teach from home have become quite apparent in that our online offering has reached so many more people than a physical studio can. I’ve had people from all over the world joining in with live classes, it’s incredible and has really helped to keep the connection of community.

I’ve had countless messages from people I’ve never met thanking me for my classes and saying they’ve been a real lifeline during isolation. It really warms my heart and gives me motivation to keep doing what I’m doing. Each time I read a message or comment like this I’m reminded of why I love teaching yoga so much and that the decision to change my career at the age of 32 was 100% the right one, even though I was scared at the time it might not work out.

How are you looking after yourself in these stressful times?

Every morning I make sure I either go for a walk or cycle, or I’ll do a workout at home if I’m not teaching to get my body and mind active.

Having my ‘to do’ list set at the beginning of the day allows me to separate work time and home time, and I ensure that in the evening I can properly switch off, which is really important when your place of relaxation also doubles up as your work space.

I also take some time to myself each day either to read or watch TV, and I have a very active circle of friends who I’m in contact with daily over calls and video hangouts. Keeping the spirits up is vital when there is limited social interaction!

What advice do you have for other people newly working from home?

Have a daily cardio workout, like the FLY LDN Low Impact class, to get the heart rate up and burn off stored energy, as well as a complementary class to the cardio like yoga or Pilates. Not only will this keep you fit and healthy in body, but it also has a direct effect on brain activity, focus and mood.

Take regular breaks for a walk, have a coffee or just get away from your screen.

Having a plan or schedule for each day helps keep you on track, as it’s very easy to get distracted when at home.

Give yourself a definite time to switch off in the evening so you don’t end up burning out.

Do you have an unusual working-from-home setup you fancy sharing?

To get involved in Where I Work, email [email protected].

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