Surviving Quarantine with at-Home Workouts by Sweat Haven Fitness
My friend and classmate at Hawaii Pacific University, Nicole, and I trained often together during our single days without kids. She was my surf buddy, a dependable running partner through the hills of Manoa and after-school beach runs and she also encouraged me to do my first triathlon, the 2012 Na Wahine. Nicole continued to be a strong motivating force for me in terms of fitness, especially while getting back in shape after having kids. She leads by example, and the results show.
Nicole is an educator with her M.A. in Communication, and I believe this makes her a fantastic coach and an expert listener. She knows when someone is holding back, and she has a way of helping athletes reach their full potential.
Fast-forward to present day, and we are both busy military wives with two kids each. We have been talking about doing a fitness collaboration since Fall 2018 when she visited me during a semi-cross-country military move. In the midst of COVID-19, we both have had more time to work on this and felt that stay-at-home workouts are a service that can help people stay motivated during an incredibly tough time.
See our interview below along with a kid-friendly workout and Family Bootcamp Nicole curated just for FitTravelingMama readers! For her complimentary online adult HIIT classes, click here for the full list and to subscribe to the Sweat Haven Fitness channel. And, if you live in the Savannah, Ga. area, please message her to start in-person training when it's safe to hit the gyms again.
Katie - FitTravelingMama: What is your background with fitness, and how did this lead to your current career as a fitness professional?
Nicole - Sweat Haven Fitness: I’ve always loved to challenge myself physically, but it was years into my adult life until it became something I thrived on daily. I’ll admit it--I've not always been fit. When I started my first career as a teacher in Hawaii, I found myself struggling to fit in consistent workouts between grading papers and planning. I lived an active lifestyle surfing, hiking, and doing road races, and triathlons on the weekends, but my body that had been accustomed to the rigor and schedule of college athletics (cross-country and track and field), gradually started to gain weight. I was stuck on a roller coaster of losing and gaining, exercising and making excuses.
When I got pregnant with my first son years later in Korea I decided my health and wellness had to be top priority. I started attending group fitness classes held at an Army stadium and fell in love with the community, the workouts, and how it made me feel. I was sweating until it was time to deliver, and back at it as soon as I had medical clearance. Working out became a passion for me. When my instructor and my dear friend and Carrie Holmquist had to unexpectedly move with the Army, she encouraged me to train to instruct. I was terrified at the time, but I couldn’t fathom losing that fitness community. I look back on my practical videos at the time and laugh at how awkward I was back then! (There’s so much more to instructing/coaching fitness than just being athletic!)
However, in the 5 years since then I have 1,000+ classes of experience and some one on one and small group training under my belt. I’ve spent time learning as much as I can—new formats, new exercises, and new credentials. I’ve grown to love fitness in all forms—from classes, to small group, to one on one, to free weights, to machines and creative equipment; to making it happen in the great outdoors, with children, or even on the go. Being a fit pro is the perfect intersection between my loves for teaching and challenging myself and others physically.
I hold my ACE group fitness certification, NETA personal trainer certification, MOSSA Group Ride (indoor cycle) certification, Genesis Health Clubs Aquatic Fitness certificate, 3 certificates in different formats of HIIT/Boot Camp of the BLASTIT Fitness, a NETA Barre Connect Specialty Certification, and a NETA Yoga Foundations Specialty Certification
HIIT, Boot Camp-style classes, cycle, and kids’ classes are my favorite classes to instruct!
FTM: Can you tell us a bit about Sweat Haven Fitness specifically? And where did the cool name come from?
SHF: I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. As a military spouse, that has looked a little different in every place I’ve lived. I’ve instructed and trained at various gyms, parks, community centers, churches, and schools (teacher groups and students alike!). Thank you for the compliment on my business name!
For a long time I have wanted to distinguish my training, to inspire others in their fitness journeys, and to slowly work on shaping and building what I want my fitness career/business to look like after military life. I had been playing around with names and catchphrases for years (all my old cell phones are loaded with lists!), until last year I finally found one that I feel embodies my fitness philosophy and who I am. A sweat haven is a way to sweat that challenges you, yet brings you joy—a way to move your body that sets your soul on fire and keeps you coming back for more. It’s your physical happy space. A place where you feel strong and fierce, yet light-hearted. I think there is something in the fitness world that everyone can enjoy and I encourage others “to find your sweat haven."
FTM: Who/what inspires you?
SHF: Much of how I handle training is inspired by one of my high school track/cross-country coaches, Tamara Stafford-Kirk. She trained her athletes haaaard and loved us even harder. In fact, one of my training trademarks is that I send my personal training clients home with little recycled paper cards with inspiring/motivational quotes and my logo on them. “Coach” (as I still affectionately call her 21 years later) used to write motivational quotes and words or encouragement on index cards and give them to us before all our races. She’s been a role model, constant source of encouragement, and an incredible friend to me over the years.
I’m also very much driven by all the parents out there who I know give so much of themselves to their children and all the professionals that give so much to their jobs and grapple to find time to take care of themselves. I want to show them that they are not alone in their struggles to workout consistently, help them find ways sweat that work into their lifestyles, and help them to seek physical activity as a haven from the stresses of life.
FTM: What are some of your personal fitness goals?
SHF: My overall goal is to be able to enjoy an active lifestyle well into my senior years. I like my personal workouts intense and challenging, but I also realize that I need to be a well-rounded athlete and slow down at times. I’ve got really tight hamstrings, hips, and a lower back from years of running, and admittedly not focusing enough on flexibility and recovery.
I’ve been saying for years that I need more yoga in my life. Well, I finally dove in and completed a yoga foundations certification. My goal this year is to take a yoga class or run through a practice class weekly to both learn and work on my flexibility. I also like to be working on a few challenging movements at a time. I’m currently working on perfecting a press-up from headstand to handstand and increasing my strict pull-up count.
FTM: How about vision/goals for SHF?
SHF: My ultimate goal is for Sweat Haven to have a physical training space (other than my home gym). That’s not realistic at the moment since we are always on the move, but right now I am focusing on just learning as much as I can—reading and researching extensively, taking all the professional developments I can, and learning the online fitness space so I can posture myself to eventually turn this into a full-time job.
It is an ongoing goal of mine to help as many people as possible fall in love with living a healthy, active lifestyle, and to lead them to finding their sweat havens. When the world is healthy again, I’ll start teaching Cycle Mix and HIIT Circuit at the West Chatham YMCA here in Pooler, GA and I’m aiming to pick up some PT clients and do some more work with family/youth programming.
Although, I love working hands-on with people the most, I hope to explore some online training options— pandemic has really opened my eyes to how useful and important that space is!
FTM: What is the best way that moms and women in general can stay active during COVID-19?
SHF: Staying true to the Sweat Haven philosophy, I don’t believe there is one best way to stay active! I do think that this pandemic brings on extra challenges for everyone when it comes to getting a sweat on. I encourage everyone to move in any (safe) way you can, and to get creative!
I’m personally struggling with not having heavy enough weights. So I’ve been playing with ways to grip two dumbbells in one hand (dumbbells have sold out on so many sites!), subbing out plates for dumbbells (and doubling those too), doubling up bands, using a barbell for things I’ve used heavier dumbbells for in the past. You can use unconventional objects like containers or bottles filled with rocks, water or sand (I even saw a fit pro demonstrate an entire workout with a bottle of laundry detergent!) for weights as long as you can get a good grip on them and they are safe.
Stable chairs/stools, staircases, your kids’ bouncy balls, and dishtowels/washcloths all make good replacements for fitness equipment (you’ll see some of these objects used in the subsequent workout). Press your babies. Squat, lunge, plank, or do push-ups with your children on your back.
There are also so many beneficial bodyweight exercises, too—do all the push-up, squat, lunge, core, and leg lift variations! Jump, jack, punch, kick, shuffle, sprint in place—there are millions of cardio movements and variations you can do in your living room. Walk. Run. Get on your bike. Pull your kids in a bike trailer. Push your jogging stroller (bonus arm workout!).
Do interval or Fartlek runs around your block (and maybe let your kids join in on the recovery run segments). Practice a movement you’ve always wanted to nail over and over again. Take advantage of the wealth of videos put out by certified fitness professionals and credible fitness companies. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you need to let your kids watch a little TV so you can squeeze in a workout solo—it’s called survival, mamas! Whatever you do, keep moving!
FTM: Can you provide a home workout to do with kids?
SHF: You can find my Sweat Haven KidStrong! “Gummy Bear Adventure” workout on my YouTube Channel. It’s fun and silly and designed to get little bodies engaged in movement (ideal for toddlers through elementary school aged kids and parents that have a kids’ heart!)
See the tables below or save them as .jpg images on your desktop for a "Sweat Haven Quarantine Family Boot Camp" that the whole family can do together:
You’ll be working an 8-station circuit around your house/yard with two exercises—an a) and a b)—at each station. Move the circuit with two family members at each station (or adapt as necessary). Each family member will do one of the exercises at the station for 30 seconds, then you will swap exercises for 30 seconds (unless there is a partner exercise at that station). You can repeat alternating the exercises at each station for up to four rounds. Keep in mind that unilateral (one-sided exercises need to be repeated evenly or you need to do 15 seconds on each side). Set the stations up prior to warming-up and run the whole family through each exercise.
1. A timing device (your cell phone is perfect!).
2. Two washcloths or small dishtowels, and a hard, slippery floor surface (or gliders).
3. A steady stool, chair, or bottom stair (or an aerobic step).
4. A ball, small pillow, or stuffed animal (or medicine ball light enough for your kids).
5. Tape that is not clear or chalk (masking tape or painter’s tape works best).
6. 5 objects to take the place of cones (rocks, shoes, blocks…get creative!)
7. A book.
Choose a high-energy song (you know that one your family goes crazy to when you hear it in the car?) and dance around the room to elevate your body temperature. Add in:
• 10 jumping jacks
• 10 hip-hinges
• 10 air squats
• 10 butt kicks
• 10 twists swinging your arms across your body
• 10 walking lunges
hip hinges: Hinge at the hips. Keep a flat back. Reach towards the toes and return to stand, engaging quads, glutes and core at the top.
air squats: Stack knees over ankles, chest tall, and weight in the heels as you lower to 90 degrees. Engage quads and glutes and core at the top.
lunges: Step forward to a 90-degree bend with knee stacked over ankle. Return to stand with opposite leg and squeeze. Lunge with opposite leg.
a) Bear Crawls
b) Lateral Zig-Zag Run
Set your cone replacements up in a line with 1.5 feet of space between them.
a) Place hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Lift the knees several inches off the floor and walk forwards and backwards on hands and toes keeping hipbones pointed towards the floor.
b) Standing to the right of the first cone, move around it counter-clockwise as quickly as you can. Then, move around the back of the next cone and around the front of
the next cone, continuing this pattern until you reach the end and reverse directions. Keep chest lifted and use your arms to help direct your movement.
a) Partner Sit-up & Pass
b) Sprint in place
Ball/pillow/stuffed animal here
a) Sit up tall facing your partner holding the ball/pillow/stuffed animal with legs wide and feet pressed flat against your partner’s. Lie down slowly raising the object above your head then sit-up and pass the object to your partner. Your partner will then complete a rep. Keep passing.
b) Face your partner, and race in place with chest lifted, using your arms to help you increase speed.
a) Glider Burpees
Washcloths/towels here on a hard, slippery surface
a) Place glider replacements under your toes and press up into a full plank position (hands under shoulders, engaging glutes, quads, and core to form a straight line from head to toe). Slide legs up to the outside of your hands. Stand up, pushing through the heels, and squeeze at the top in a slow controlled motion. Then, squat down and slide your legs back to plank and repeat.
(Smaller children can skip the sliders and hop their feet to hands repeatedly or hop feet to hands and stand.)
b) Stand tall and use your arms for momentum to hop and twist quickly, changing your feet from approximately 2 o’clock to 10 o’clock.
a) Boat Pose & Triceps Pulse b) In-Out Frogs
a) Sit-up tall with feet straight in front of you. Bend your knees, engage your core and lift your legs several inches off the ground, leaning slightly backward. Raise arms out in front of you at shoulder level, squeeze the arms tight and pulse them up and down as quickly as possible while maintaining boat pose. For a modification or for small children, you can also drop one or both feet (still keeping everything engaged).
b) Start in a low, wide squat with hands on the floor between your legs. Hop your feet closer together (while staying low) and your hands to the outside of your legs and repeat. You can also do a double hop from stand followed by a more shallow squat if this bothers your knees or hips.
a) Hand Release Push-ups
a) Start lying on your chest with hands under shoulders. Press up to plank position, then bend the elbows and lower onto your chest. Lift your hands several inches and repeat. Keep toes pressed into the mat through the whole exercise.
b) Jump (or step quickly) laterally over the book keeping chest tall and landing softly.
a) Monster Walks
b) In-Out Ladder Hops
Make an agility ladder with 4-8 spaces by drawing with chalk on pavement or taping your floor.
a) Bring legs wider than hip-distance apart and point toes out at an angle. Sink back into a squat with knees stacked over ankles and walk forward and backward in that position (you can even add your best monster arms!)
b) Start with both feet in the first square. Hop them out of the square with chest lifted, and then hop into the next square until you reach the end of the ladder. Do a 180 jump and reverse directions.
a) Bulgarian Split Squats
b) Imaginary Jump Rope
Use stool/chair or a bottom stair
a) Place one toe on a step/stool/chair for stability. Position the other foot far enough away for you to lunge with knee stacked over ankle. Lunge, placing weight in the front heel and squeeze to starting position. If you have dumbbells at home you can add dumbbell curls, fully extending the arms as you lunge, and squeezing the biceps as you straighten the legs. (Younger children can simply practice standing on one foot.)
b) Jump up and down softly in place and twirl your imaginary rope. This is excellent practice for children who can’t jump rope yet, or people who are not coordinated.
a) Plank taps
b) Squat Jacks (or Dragon Jacks)
a) Face your partner and get into full plank position or drop knees for ½ plank (see earlier tips on plank). Reach out and tap your partner’s opposite hand, switch, and repeat.
b) Start standing tall with feet together like you would start a standard jumping jack. Hop your feet out into a wide squat position (like in Monster Walks) and bring arms out to your sides, hop back to first position and repeat. For Dragon jacks, legs are the same but flap your dragon wings with each hop.
STRETCH IT OUT!:
Have a family stretch session and let your kids share with you stretches they know or have learned in school or sports. You can talk about which muscles you are stretching and how stretching reduces stiffness, prevents injury, and helps us feel more relaxed.
Hold stretches until you feel a gentle pressure (stretching should never feel painful). Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds.
Make sure to cover:
If you have any questions or feedback about this workout please contact me on Facebook or Instagram or e-mail email@example.com. I’d appreciate likes and comments!