Monday, January 25 2021

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How Digital Tech Influenced Our Favorite Physical Activities

No one can deny the fact that digital technology has transformed many things. It changed how we do our errands such as grocery shopping and paying the bills. Instead of going out of the house and manually doing such things, we could accomplish so much with our smartphones and the internet.

But what’s surprising is that digital technology has also transformed some of our favorite physical activities. Some of them are martial arts and dance. You might wonder how this came to be. After all, how can we conduct a martial arts session without the constant guidance of our sensei or instructor? People were forced to improvise with digital technology. Especially so during the height of the pandemic. This is to continue doing the things that we love. Here’s how.

Martial Arts

For many of us, martial arts is the best form of exercise. There’s a sense of thrill when we engage in combat with someone. And that is a thrill that we don’t usually find in other ways of exercising. Martial arts have a significant impact on our cardiovascular health, muscle development, and, most of all, reflexes. With these skills, we have a sure way of defending ourselves should we find ourselves in a pickle with dangerous people.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities, martial arts schools were among the public places that had to close their doors. They were simply deemed as non-essential. And it’s understandable, considering the martial arts is a melting pot of close physical contact and respiratory droplets. As reported by scientists and medical experts, these are the sure ways of spreading the coronavirus.

Martial arts schools and instructors improvised with digital technology. This is in response to the lockdown restrictions. They started offering classes via Zoom or other platforms used for video calls. For example, Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Houston, Texas, adapted to online classes. They did so prior to opening their school again with health safety measures in place. The online classes were, of course, not the same as being at school in person. For instructors, it’s much easier to ensure the safety of their students. Many of them acquired liability insurance for martial arts schools, of course. But safety is still their top priority. But even with these downsides, they were able to make it work with digital technology.

Dance

dance concept

The meaning and importance of dance tend to vary between people. For some, it’s their favorite form of exercise. For the others, it’s their career and life’s work. Either way, dance is a form of art that leads to many health benefits. Much like martial arts, it has a huge influence on our health.

But when the coronavirus started spreading in cities and small towns, dance schools and companies were among the ones who also had to close their doors. It has the same case as martial arts schools. Most, if not all, styles of dance require close physical contact between partners. And that’s a huge sin to health safety in the time of COVID-19. So it’s understandable why the authorities barred the opening of dance schools and companies at the height of the pandemic.

But this doesn’t mean that people started forgetting the importance of dance. Instead, schools and choreographers took advantage of digital technology. Again, much like martial arts sessions, dance sessions were largely conducted through video calls. For example, the Ethington Dance Ensemble at the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, conducted their classes via Zoom. They shared the challenges that they experienced and overcame in a dance film titled, This Isn’t What We Planned, by Molly W. Schenck.

Apart from that, dance schools are also using other forms of digital technology. One is artificial intelligence (AI). With the use of AI tools, choreographers can train, refine movements, and improve synchrony in a remote setting. A partnership between the Queen Mary University of London and the Centre for Intelligent Sensing will help develop this technology. And this is to improve remote learning in dance. With the data-driven algorithms that they’re developing, they can track the movements of the students and compare them to the choreographers’. This would, in turn, track what’s being done right and what needs to be improved.

It’s not at all surprising when we say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives. It made us more conscious of our health safety. It made us think about our career choices and look for the ones that would ensure our safety and contribute to the betterment of our communities. And, most of all, it changed our day-to-day lives. It’s especially so with the rise of digital technology and its impact on our favorite physical activities.

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