When Hannah Wood re-opened her Lambton pilates studio this week, you could say some of her clients were more than excited.
"I had a client come in and she said 'I'm probably not going to stop talking but you're the first adult I have seen in nine weeks and I've got lots to talk about'," Ms Wood said.
But welcoming people back face-to-face to Hannah Wood Pilates on Monday wasn't an easy decision. Ms Wood worried about not being open to everyone, so continued offering a Zoom option - something she has done since before the lockdown began in August.
The return did come with adjustments, but it didn't take long to settle back in.
"It was so strange not having to talk to people over the computer, and I was yelling more because I was so used to having to yelling into the laptop at home," Ms Wood said with a laugh.
"But I got home Tuesday night and I was like this is amazing. I almost forgot how much I love it and how much this place means to me and everyone who comes here."
The studio offers classes capped at 10 people including mat pilates, mums and bubs, high intensity pilates and yoga. Through lockdown when classes pivoted online, she also offered a free Friday afternoon pilates and wine where clients did their class followed by a social catchup and trivia.
IN THE NEWS:
"It really picked everyone up, we had about 30 on the first one," she said. "We had a chat, no one was allowed to talk about COVID. It helped being free because it is such a struggle financially for people during this time."
Ms Wood wasn't immune from those struggles, describing the time as "tough".
"It has been tough on small businesses, you've still got to pay the rent and if you've got staff the pressure it puts you under is so stressful. I've got two other pilates instructors and a yoga teacher, and having to say to them I can't pay you during this lockdown - I was thankful that this isn't their only job."
But Ms Wood said her loyal clients helped keep her head above water.
"The community I've got here I just find they are the most genuine people," she said. "They feel so comfortable here but they're so caring I feel like they would have wanted to continue to support me as well."
It also made her appreciate local business even more.
"With all my coffees I think 'which place do I go to today'," she said. "Now more than ever we have to support those people who are just like us and are trying to get through this time. I think Newcastle is so big on supporting local, and this lockdown has encouraged that even more."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.