After months of teaching classes online, 56-year-old skating instructor Tanya Dean welcomed a hundred strangers and veteran students back to her Skaterobics class in Bedford-Stuyvesant, reports the Daily News.
All of the students were required to wear masks — but the pandemic quickly became an afterthought as the class skated near the Black Lives Matter mural at Marcy Ave. and Fulton St.
"My main message is that I created this to bring all worlds together," Dean said, before her wheels hit the pavement. "Fun has no color, no ethnicity, no politics."
Dean's career as a skating instructor dates back to 2010, when she first started with her high-energy instruction program. On Friday, she hosted just her second Saturday class after announcing a series of free weekend sessions through the month of August. And she personally thanked every guest for attending, introducing herself before the group warmed up for what she views as a life-saving mission.
Once the COVID-19 hit New Yorkers in March, Dean began teaching dozens of students online via Zoom: "Skating in their bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens." But she missed the face-to-face aspect of her work, even as she met with new students from all around the world.
"The interaction with the people," she explained. "Love the people, love the community, love the energy, love seeing people's reactions. Being with them regularly, socializing, networking, having fun, and meeting great, great, great people."
Tami Brooks, 52, a creative consultant from Bedford-Stuyvesant, was a happy customer. She took her first class with Dean eight months ago and was thrilled to have the opportunity to skate outdoors and with her community.
"I feel good, everybody's masked up," Brooks said. "I feel better here than I do sitting at a bar without a mask on."
As Dean plans to continue her weekly outdoor classes she hopes that people will begin to grasp the importance of exercise, socialization and being around people. "That's what COVID robbed us of. So what I appreciate is that we are getting the opportunity to skate, to hug again," she said.
Her outdoor classes began August 1 and will run for free every Saturday throughout the entire month of August.