Fun fitness ideas for your kids at home during COVID-19

COLETTE SHERIDAN talks to women who are offering online exercise and yoga classes for children — a great idea to keep them active at home during the COVID-19 crisis
Fun fitness ideas for your kids at home during COVID-19
Molly Murray of Molly's Mini Movers and brother Charlie. She is running live classes on Zoom.

NOW that school is out because of the coronavirus pandemic, children and teenagers are cooped up at home.

But thanks to some fitness instructors and yoga practitioners giving classes online and recording videos, you and your kids can now exercise in your own room.

It’s a trend that has seen fitness and diet guru, The Body Coach (aka Joe Wicks) amass millions of global followers as he gets kids to tune into his PE class everyday on YouTube.

Jacqui Twohig, personal trainer and son Jack.
Jacqui Twohig, personal trainer and son Jack.

MUM AND KIDS EXERCISE TOGETHER

Personal trainer and life coach, Jacqui Twohig, is providing home workouts online to her clients and anyone who wants to avail of the service. Jacqui acknowledges that we are all feeling “anxiety, fear and sadness,” but “it’s absolutely normal to have those feelings.”

She points out that many people are missing out on going to the gym.

“That’s a huge thing. It’s important to get exercise, such as going for a walk, as it releases endorphins.”

Jacqui knows what it is like to try and run her business from home, surrounded by children.

This mother of one-year old Jack is also helping to home school her partner’s three children who are aged fourteen, eight and six. Because their mother works at a hospital, the children are being looked after by Jacqui and her partner part of the time.

Jacqui, who has over 17.7k followers on Instagram, is a primary school teacher who took a career break to set up her own business. As well as doing fitness programmes at home, she is on hand to help her partner’s children with school work.

Jacqui’s approach is to combine school work and physical exercise.

“It might just be getting the kids to jump up and down and do body weight squats. They enjoy it and we also get them to go for a walk every day.”

For fun, Jacqui sometimes uses Jack as a weight.

“He’s thirteen kilos now but when he was smaller and lighter, I have videos of me using him as a weight, holding him in front of my body to do my squats and other exercises.”

For the glute bridge exercise (for aligning the hips and exercising the bum) Jacqui puts Jack across her hips.

“He laughs his head off. But sometimes, he doesn’t. I take my lead from him, making sure he’s enjoying it.”

You can find Jacqui on Instagram at jacqui.twohig.coaching or www.jacquitwohig.com.

Deirdre Desmond.
Deirdre Desmond.

YOGA

Deirdre Desmond is a children’s yoga teacher who has posted three free online classes (including one for children) in the last couple of weeks on her Facebook page, Crosshaven Yoga.

“They become a little tougher as the practice goes on. I ask people to be their own guide and to only do what they’re comfortable with. That’s my style of yoga.”

Children, says Deirdre, “do yoga naturally. They love moving and exploring their bodies, seeing what they can do and what feels comfortable. They’re not inclined to push outside their boundaries. Yoga should be playful. A lot of yoga poses are around animals. With children, you can do games and stories to get them involved in yoga.”

Deirdre is full of praise for the young ones that attend her classes and are now doing yoga at home.

“They will practise yoga at home. They don’t think it needs to be structured the way adults do. We have to put down the yoga mat and have everything quiet whereas kids will do the downward dog in the kitchen. It’s part of their games. It definitely has a calming effect on them.

“One grandmother, who minds her grandchildren, told me that Wednesday is her favourite day because the kids always came to yoga with me that day and afterwards, helping them with homework is so much easier.”

Yoga, says Deirdre, has a very calming effect on the nervous system. It can help young people to regulate their reactions to whatever comes up for them.

She has studied Hanna Somatics, “a mindful movement therapy where you notice where you have tension in the body and learn how to release it.”

Deirdre has been teaching teenagers in Scoil Mhuire in Crosshaven for seven years.

“Once they understand you’re not going to make them do anything they’re uncomfortable with, they are willing to get quite involved.”

Mother to sixteen year-old Rose and twelve year-old Regan, Deirdre is currently trying to teach them how to regulate their long days at home.

“I don’t impose anything on them. They can learn to listen to their bodies, know when to do exercise, when to take a break and when to study. Obviously you have to give them a little encouragement and guidance.”

You can find Deirdre on Facebook at Crosshaven Yoga.

Molly Murray of Molly Mini Movers runs fun fitness classes for children aged three to eight.
Molly Murray of Molly Mini Movers runs fun fitness classes for children aged three to eight.

FUN FITNESS

Molly Murray runs Molly’s Mini Movers which is “a fun fitness class” aimed at children between 3-8 years. The aim of the classes is to show the children the fundamentals about fitness, balance and co-ordination.

Classes may be cancelled, but that’s not stopping Molly, who is now doing live classes on Zoom.

“I’m doing a bit of online work with my eight year old brother, Charlie. We do home workouts. It’s a way of keeping in touch with all the groups I have, putting up videos for them. I’m working on an online virtual class. I’m trying to get my head around it and to find time to do it live.

Molly Murray in action.
Molly Murray in action.

“The video I uploaded of myself and Charlie getting our exercises done is to encourage him and have a bit of a laugh. It’s on Instagram at molly_mini_movers and it’s on my Facebook page. We do it in the drive way. If it’s raining, we do it in the front room. It’s very important at the moment to keep moving. It puts you in a better mood for the rest of the day.

“We’re enclosed with our families and the whole isolation thing is going to get worse. It’s very hard for parents. You need to keep kids in a routine and to make sure they get out in the fresh air. The days are long now. If you can just occupy yourself and do a bit of movement, be it exercises or a game, a bit of fun, that’s great.”

The days are long now. If you can just occupy yourself and do a bit of movement, be it exercise, a game, a bit of fun, great.

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