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Some families stayed in touch during the pandemic with Zoom happy hours. Theresa Schubert connected with her five children and extended family through a 12-week virtual fitness challenge. “We live across the country but would post our daily workouts on a thread for motivation and accountability,” says Ms. Schubert, a 49-year-old high-school student-activities coordinator in Honolulu.
Some of her children, who range between ages 15 and 26, live with her, while others are farther away. Ms. Schubert was inspired to see her three eldest girls carving out time for fitness. Her twenty-six-year-old twin daughters, Mahina Choy-Ellis and Taimane Kini were running businesses; Ms. Kini also was raising a family. And Tenielle Ellis, 20, was taking college classes virtually in New York. “I told myself I didn’t have an excuse,” Ms. Schubert says. “I was working from home and enlisted my 16-year-old daughter, Aree, as my accountability partner.”
For years, maintaining a fitness routine was hard because high-impact exercises like jogging were uncomfortable, Ms. Schubert says. She had gained weight with each pregnancy, reaching a peak of 220 pounds. After a divorce in 2009, she lost weight but edged back up into the 215-pound range. She also was constantly driving her children to activities or sports practices. “I had a slow start of putting myself first,” she says. “Then, the pandemic happened.”
Pre-pandemic, Mahina had been exercising at a studio in New York called Brrrn, where workouts use a slide board. Participants wear booties over their sneakers that allow them to move side to side across the board’s slick surface. Mahina sent her mom a Brrrn Board and membership for virtual classes like yoga, boot camp, and cardio sculpt, as a gift last July.
“For the first time in my life I’m excited to work out because it’s fun,” Ms. Schubert says. “It’s challenging but you can be successful with the low- to mid-impact movements.” She has shed 12 pounds and gone from size 14 to a 12. “I feel strong and confident wearing clothes again,” she says. “And my kids give me shout-outs on group chats saying, ‘Look at my mom killing it’ and it’s really cool.” As normal life returns, Ms. Schubert says, her family is setting new fitness challenges to stay accountable and has packed the summer with hiking, surfing, and other activities.
Ms. Schubert slides on a Brrrn Board, her new favorite cardio workout.
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Ms. Schubert works out on her Brrrn Board three to four times a week. Mondays she tries to do a leg workout, Tuesdays and Thursdays upper body, and then a fourth day is a boot camp or cardio sculpt. She began with 30-minute workouts but now tacks on a 30-minute yoga or online high-intensity interval training routine.
Leg days might include standing lunges on the board going to the side and backward, while the upper body might feature burpees or push-ups. Cardio sculpt and boot camp often include speed intervals of sliding on the board and sets of mountain climbers.
During the pandemic, she set a goal of doing a proper push-up, and her 15-year-old son, Kamealoha Ellis, helped her accomplish it. “I cannot do many, yet, but now I actually dream of doing perfect push-ups,” she says. “It’s crazy, but it’s a personal challenge. Upper-body strength has always been my area of need.” She bought 8-, 10- and 12-pound dumbbells and added exercises such as biceps curls and triceps extensions to her routine.
Mahina Choy-Ellis helps her mother, Ms. Schubert, deepen into a stretch as Aree Ellis stretches alongside. The Diet
Morning fuel: Avocado toast
Going greener: “I love a good steak and never thought I could adopt a plant-based diet,” she says. “But over Covid, I embraced Meatless Mondays with friends. We’d drop food off at each other’s homes. Even my son couldn’t believe the meatless chili wasn’t real.”
Almost meatless: The family now tries to eat mostly plant-based meals, but her 15-year-old son, who is 6-feet tall, is a growing athlete and says he needs “real food” so they occasionally have fish and chicken.
Family dinner: Vegan mac n’ cheese and a green salad
Indulgence: Dark chocolate caramel bar topped with sea salt.
Ms. Schubert and her daughters made yoga part of their home workout routine during the pandemic. Essential Gear
Leggings by Girlfriend Collective ($68) or Halara ($40) stay in place during workouts, she says: “I have lots of curves and appreciate great fitting workout wear.”
Adidas Women’s Ultraboost shoes ($180) are “for the win,” Ms. Schubert says. “I have size 10 feet. Enough said.”
Reversible Lululemon yoga mat ($88) “My baby sister gifted me my first and the only mat during the pandemic, as she couldn’t believe I just worked out on the wooden floors of my house,” she says.
Catch Surf surfboards “My family loves these surfboards,” she says. “They’re easy for everyone to ride, no matter how inexperienced they may be.”
One of Ms. Schubert’s fitness goals during the pandemic was to complete a pushup. Her daughters join her. Master the Push-Up
The push-up can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have a strong upper body.
“Essentially, it’s a moving plank,” says Prentiss Rhodes, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based National Academy of Sports Medicine master instructor. Your body should be straight, from the head to the heels, as if standing with proper posture, he says. The gaze should be down the nose and you should tuck the chin to avoid crunching the neck. “I tell my clients to be in an ‘anti-shrug’ position with their shoulders,” he says. “You want your shoulder blades pulling down the body at the top of the push-up and the arms at a 30- to 45-degree angle away from the body as you lower. The pits of the elbows should point straight ahead.”
Mr. Rhodes says progression is key. Eventually, you will try to lower the chest to the height of a tennis ball or yoga block, but at the start, he says, don’t try to lower it all the way down. Lower to a range you can control and focus on form not volume, he says. “Start with push-ups on a countertop or something with a similar height and do three sets of three to five reps with the full range of motion,” he says. To strengthen the postural muscles involved, he suggests adding a hip bridge and plank pose to your routine. If you have wrist pain, Shane Boley, a postural specialist and trainer in Campo, Calif., says try gripping dumbbells on the ground in plank and as you do push-ups to reduce stress on the wrists.
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