Spotlight on Orkney Dance & Fitness

Posted: 14 August 2023, in Member Spotlight

Next in our Member Spotlight feature is Orkney Dance & Fitness Ltd who provide dance and fitness classes within a rural island community for all ages and abilities.

Donna Cuthbertson, Director and Teacher at Orkney Dance & Fitness (ODAF), explains what they do, other projects, future plans and tips for other social enterprises.

What’s your social and/or environmental mission?

Orkney Dance & Fitness Ltd provide dance and fitness classes within a rural island community for all ages and abilities. Our mission is to increase access to dance, fitness and exercise classes in the West Mainland Orkney; reduce social isolation through community dance and fitness activities and social cafes; and to get people fitter and healthier so they can live longer and more independent lives.

How do you do it?

We make use of local community halls and run classes in the daytime and evenings as well as live stream classes via our website to those at home who cannot get to a class. These range from a Parkinson’s Fitness class, Resistance training, Functional movement for older adults to bouncing on a rebounder as well as Dance classes for children and birthday parties. As a mobile business, we have a trailer full of equipment that we take on the road with us. 

What’s your motivation for being a social entrepreneur?

Community is at the heart of all we do. Fitness/dance and teaching is my passion so to deliver classes to my local community is a dream come true!

Why should someone buy/use your services?

We should be getting 150 minutes of exercise a week according to the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines. ODAF provides a fun, affordable and effective way to exercise right in the heart of our rural community. We are very much community led and over the year and a half we have been operating, we now have over a hundred participants who attend each week as part of the ODAF Crew from toddlers right up to their late 80’s.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur?

We love what we do and are passionate about finding each individual’s “hook” that sparks an interest in accessing the internet. Seeing someone improve in confidence each week is incredibly rewarding. In today’s increasingly digital world, Digital Inclusion is very important so that nobody gets left behind.

What is the current focus for your social enterprise?

To address the physical and mental needs of the community through the use of exercise, to combat social isolation and to get participants fitter and healthier.

What exciting things do you have coming up?

We have a few new classes in the pipeline and hope to recruit and train new instructors to expand our offering. We have Parkinson’s UK Scotland coming to visit us up in Orkney which is very exciting as we look for ways to increase and sustain the classes we offer through partnership working.

Who do you want to work with more?

The NHS. We already have many participants who come through our doors who have been referred by their physio, GP or nurse. We already know that without regular exercise, people over the age of 50 years can experience a range of health problems including: reduced muscle mass; strength and physical endurance; reduced coordination and balance; and reduced joint flexibility and mobility. The more people we help through exercise, the less pressure could be put on the NHS in the long term.

What’s your biggest challenge?

I would have to say juggling everything! You literally do everything behind the scenes such as marketing, website design, booking system, social media, finances etc and then you have to physically teach all the classes. 

Where do you see your organisation in 5 years?

The goal for us would to be to have our own space for dance and fitness classes in the heart of our community, to have more specialist and mainstream classes and a team of instructors trained up and teaching. 

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises?

Ask for help! There are so many organisations out there ready to help, advise and support you in Scotland. And form a team of people around you who want to see you succeed, have the skills you may not have to fill in the gaps of your skill set. It took me a while to realise that we can’t do everything, it’s ok to share the load and people really do want to help!

More information:

For more information about Dance Orkney & Fitness, please visit their website and make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep updated with their work.

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