A week before the Government insisted on non-essential businesses shutting down, after a five-hour meeting with her team, Jess Schuring pressed what she thought was the red button on the business she'd spent 12 years building.

Although the company had just had its busiest three months since its inception, closing all 10 of her Heartcore exercise studios was the right thing to do, she says, but also the hardest, because there was no plan B.

"Ironically, I've never been interested in doing the classes online because for me, it's all about precision and human contact."

She spent a day agonising about what she calls the Heartcore community - the trainers, now jobless; the clients who depended on the studios for a sense of wellbeing; her brother who is in intensive care with the virus; and herself.

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She's 45 and has been in the fitness world for 18 years, first in LA, where she buffed Ben Stiller, Robert Downey jnr and other A-listers into shape, and then in London, where her personal clients include Carey Mulligan, the actress, and the Duchess of Sussex. (Meghan was spotted at the Heartcore Kensington studio when she moved to London and instantly liked its menu of stretching, barre work, free weights, TRX, yoga and low impact cardio.)

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Now, it was all about to disappear. Schuring granted herself 24 hours' mourning, then decided to stop feeling sorry for herself.

"You can't change the situation but you can change how you react to it," she says - which sounds like one of those trite mantras on Instagram, but she's put it into action, for the benefit of thousands. Five days after closing the studios, Heartcore was back with free classes on Instagram's live stories channel.

With a team of teachers scattered across London, (plus one who'd returned home to Holland) and a method that had been honed for the Heartcore studios with their specifically designed equipment, this was no mean feat. But she did it, launching a digital schedule of classes that could be done at home with nothing but a towel and some bottles of water for weights.

"If nothing else, I thought, this will be interesting," she says. "All the teachers needed was their phone to film themselves and a bit of space in their flats. Heartcore had 17,000 followers on Instagram but even if a few of them joined in, we would at least be staying in touch."

I stumbled across Heartcore's Insta classes on the first or second day and was immediately hooked. It's low-impact, highly effective and gets you sweating - a plus if you're used to spin classes - and ideal for anyone of any age who hates the pound-throb-yell of a burpees-intensive routine.

As someone who likes to fly solo when it comes to exercise, what surprised me was how reassuring it is to log in at the same time as hundreds of people to work out together.

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During isolation, I've enjoyed seeing comments pinging in from Abu Dhabi, South Africa, New York and Singapore - although heaven knows how people manage to type and do downward dog simultaneously.

Schuring says her data can't tell her whether Meghan's logging on. But given how addictive that post-class buzz of toned, lengthened and stretched out muscles is, it would be odd if the Duchess wasn't keeping up with Heartcore.

At any rate, we now know that spectacular parade of body conscious outfits we witnessed on Meghan during the Sussex's final lap a few weeks ago wasn't just the results of her well-publicised love of yoga, but of several Heartcore sessions a week, incorporating free weights and the core-reformer - Schuring's take on the classic Pilates reformer bed.

The Duchess's postnatal fitness strategy notably didn't rush things. So many women in the public eye feel pressured to snap back into shape, but Meghan waited a few months before booking back into her regular private sessions, a positive message for millions of women, Schuring believes.

"It's important to allow your body to come back naturally because if you push it too much you can create too much lactic acid in your body, and that can sour your milk. Give your body time to build strength and meanwhile focus on your pelvic floor. That extra weight isn't always fat. It can be water retention. Don't try to undo nine months of pregnancy in a few weeks."

It's the same post-illness, she says. "You need to work on your immunity system. It's different for everyone but when you feel you have additional energy and you're sleeping again, that's the time to exercise."

BodyBalance is one of the Les Mills home workout programmes streaming on TVNZ OnDemand and screening weekdays. Photo / TVNZ
BodyBalance is one of the Les Mills home workout programmes streaming on TVNZ OnDemand and screening weekdays. Photo / TVNZ

One of the positives of the lockdown is how many people are exercising. Joe Wicks had 15 million views in his first week of YouTube 9am (not just) kids' PE classes.

Heartcore has almost doubled its Instagram following and evolved from a niche London name to an international one.

Denied access to fancy, complicated equipment, we're realising how much can be done with so little. This is what motivated Schuring to launch Heartcore in the first place.

"At 27, I went to my first gym in LA and couldn't believe anyone would want to spend time in such a sterile environment. All that aluminium, rubber and not looking anyone in the eye. What does that do to your spirit - or your skin?"

No one's looking anyone in the eye on the Insta-platform either, so a few days ago, Heartcore launched Zoom classes. Students pay £5 per session to log in and the teacher can then see what they're doing. The classes on Instagram remain free - a generous gesture that will inevitably stand Heartcore in good stead when this is over. But the Zoom sessions are a way for the teachers, most of them self-employed, to make some money until things return to normal.

I did one yesterday; for those who are camera shy, there's an option for participants to be invisible. In my session, at least three students took that route. Was one of them Meghan?