Some of us are gym rats and group-fitness fanatics, addicted to revving up our endorphin levels in the midst of people doing the same. Zumba, weight classes, kickboxing, cycling, yoga … we’re here for all of it. And so, when the city began to order the temporary shutdown of businesses to curb the coronavirus spread, we faithful gym and fitness studio members crumbled a little inside.
Of course, it was the right thing to do, as gyms are cesspools of germs even in normal times. But what do we – and our active children, who are now without their sports and P.E. outlets – do to keep our bodies moving? Local fitness trainer and mom of three Claudine Cooper says physical exercise helped save her life, and she speaks often about its benefits for our brains and our emotional health.
Sure, we could all turn on some pre-recorded videos to follow a workout routine (and there is nothing wrong with this), but fitness experts such as Cooper quickly transitioned to live virtual workouts – the next best thing to an in-person class. Since the quarantine, I have tuned into Cooper’s 30-minute live workouts on Facebook and Instagram, focusing on legs one day and arms and abs on others. In fact, Instagram’s live stories are all abuzz these days with many of your favorite fitness experts and magazines offering live yoga, dance and boot camp workouts. After finishing Cooper’s workout one morning, I clicked Women’s Health magazine’s Instagram story and did abs and a stretching routine to round out my workout.
To keep your kids from sliding down the sedentary sinkhole while we’re homebound, invite them to work out with you. Cooper encourages us not to give up if our kids are resistant at first. “My kids are just like yours,” she says. “They would love to watch TikTok and Netflix all day if they could. But as a parent, and a fitness trainer, it is important that my children stay healthy and active.”
Her tips to keep you and the kids active and healthy include:
- Make a schedule of activities and stick to it. Designate specific times for TV, iPads, phones and video games, but also to get outside and go for a walk, run or hike.
- Turn on your kids’ favorite songs and learn the latest dances with them. For instance: make a TikTok video with them.
- Play active games such as Twister, charades or musical chairs.
- Clean out closets and make bags to donate to families in need.
- Allow your kids to help complete home improvement projects.
The good news is that there’s no shortage of fitness professionals generously offering to keep your family healthy during the quarantine. Beachbody, creator of popular home workouts such as P90X and Insanity, is releasing a few kid-friendly workouts for free. The programs are not their typical tough workouts, but rather a fun, enjoyable, lighthearted way to keep kids moving and entertained while they’re stuck inside. The free programs include Shaun T’s Fit Kids Club, YouV2 featuring Leandro Carvalho and Double Time featuring Tony Horton.
Beloved dancer and actress Debbie Allen has been offering free dance tutorials on everything from ballet to African dance to salsa. You can follow her on social media at #DanceWithDebbieAllen. Her Instagram is @therealdebbieallen. “The universal language is dance,” she says. The cherry on top? Lying flat on the ground, arms in a wide V, to stretch and, as Allen says, “connect with the Earth.”
Monarchs Gymnastics is no stranger to the L.A. Parent audience, as we’ve featured their summer camps before. While their gym is closed to the public, your kids can enjoy at-home gymnastics on Monarchs TV.
The popular LES MILLS brand is offering a series of workouts for those of us who love to get drenched in sweat, and some of them are free.
Lynn Montoya, fitness trainer, nutritionist and health coach, is offering free 20 minute HIIT sessions on Instagram Live, @LynnMontoyaFitness. The live workout videos will begin everyday at 12 p.m. PST and will remain available 24 hours for those who are unable to join at the start time.
My son’s martial arts dojo in Inglewood, Kingi’s Kajukenbo, closed its doors March 16, which forced them to postpone the week’s belt tests, but the owners are using Instagram to keep students engaged and competitive. “As fighters, we adapt and change, and rise to the call. While our doors may be closed, our community transcends our school walls, so we expect you all to use this time well, to sweat, train, take care of yourself and care for your loved ones,” Robert Kingi wrote on the dojo’s Instagram feed.
Daily, Kingi’s students have been posting photos and videos of themselves practicing their punches, kicks and calisthenics, and Kingi Kaju reposts those examples to inspire other students.
The website Go Noodle offers a colorful mix of videos to get limbs moving, from Nickelodeon’s Young Dylan Dance Along to Zumba and “Poppin Bubbles.”
On the quieter side of things, SCHOOL, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting harmonious learning in academics and life, is offering free online classes in yoga and mindfulness to kids, teachers and parents. The organization’s curriculum meets Common Core State Standards. In the teacher-focused classes, educators can learn course content online to share with students in virtual classrooms. The youth classes aim to give kids a foundation for “developing constructive habits and behaviors” and the parent classes are designed to steady and uplift parents and other adults. All services are free at this time with donations accepted. For more, email founder Kelly at email@example.com.
With these and so many other choices, keeping ourselves physically healthy while we’re in quarantine is more than possible – it’s an opportunity for new ways of working out and connecting. “It may seem like a daunting task to put work and sports and activities ‘on hold’ for a few weeks, but slowing down and reconnecting with each other might be what we all need right now,” Cooper says.
On that note, don’t scoff at the old basics: taking a walk with the family, jumping rope in the backyard or shooting some hoops together. These little things add up to keep the spirits high and the quarantine gain at bay.
Cassandra Lane is Managing Editor of L.A. Parent.