22 Apr 2020


Businesses ingenuity in UK and Ireland shines through lockdown

Members of DFK UK & Ireland a leading association of independent accounting firms have been talking to their clients and contacts in order to understand how businesses are repurposing through the COVID-19 lock-down.

In the first in a series of articles, Fran Kidd from Oxford-based Shaw Gibbs talks to Nicola Graham, Managing Director for tops:health.

A week before England locked down, Oxfordshire-based tops:health (previously known as The Oxford Physiotherapy Service) decided they weren’t happy to continue group classes due to the rapidly spreading Coronavirus. Having made this decision on Monday evening, by 19:30 on the Tuesday they had moved all their classes online. On the Friday of the same week they decided that all face-to-face sports massage and physiotherapy sessions should follow-suit.

tops:health is a long-running group of health and movement professionals with five locations in the county, their established client-base includes some who are older and with underlying health conditions and the drive for their client’s safety was on the top of their priority list. tops:health are now doing five-seven classes online per day, they have only to cancel their reformer classes due to the equipment required.

Nicola Graham, Managing Director of tops:health comments

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, tops:health is now running all of its classes online via Zoom. We are running up to seven classes a day which are Pilates, yoga, barre and general strength based. The classes are fantastic in providing interaction as well as keeping people moving during these difficult times.

Nicola’s marketing of tops:health through lockdown has moved to digital, but she is mindful ‘not to bombard people’. Their holistic is to advise and help make changes to their client’s life throughout and not just in the treatment room. This approach is echoed in their marketing, finding that informative updates around immunity-boosting exercise coupled with tips around nutrition, relaxation, mindfulness and mental health work well. They also post fun daily challenges on their Facebook page. They are offering free classes to NHS staff and they have found the take-up to be relatively good however, this is dependent on the availability of NHS staff who are working long shifts and are exhausted in their down-time.

Nicola believes that it is ‘too early to say’ whether the kind of support they offer people will change over the course of the COVID-19 lockdown although she expects that there might be some home-office based strains on the body which are usually mitigated in an ergonomic office-based environment. She is keen to point out that those self-isolating, shielding or simply adhering to lockdown guidelines should ‘give themselves a break sometimes’. Health should be viewed in totality and stress can often manifest itself in physical form, sometimes we will feel jaded, frustrated or tired from juggling home, work, childcare and video calls with friends and family along with the mental burden and worry about coronavirus therefore, we shouldn’t feel guilty if we can’t (or don’t want to) do all of the exercise classes that are on offer at the moment.

She points out that calling on existing resources such as professional networks, like-minded businesses and the immediate community are also important, she has found for example that her Goldman Sachs alumni-group have been invaluable for business advice. Nicola is also planning for the future by working with a group of therapists in order to address the rehabilitation of those who have had prolonged spells in hospital due to Coronavirus.

Nicola’s tip to other business owners surviving lockdown is

The most important elements are: to support existing clients, deliver your services in different and accessible ways and be as creative and inventive as you can be. People will value and want to spend money with businesses that are ethical and moral throughout the crisis

Oxfordshire-based tops:health (previously known as The Oxford Physiotherapy Service)
Oxfordshire-based tops:health (previously known as The Oxford Physiotherapy Service)
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