CrossFit Fernie Mountain Fitness and Athletics is currently offering virtual fitness coaching. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

The importance of staying active during self isolation

Maintaining an exercise regime is critical to mental health during stressful times

As a result of the imposed restrictions due to COVID-19, many people now spend the majority of their day at home. While trips to the grocery store, skiing with friends, or partaking in recreational sports were widely practiced activities, many find it difficult to maintain an exercise regime when boarded up indoors.

One relatively inexpensive way to keep moving during quarantine is to practice yoga. According to Katie Taylor, a yoga instructor at Essential Yoga in Fernie, exercising is key to supporting mental health during times of stress. She suggests yoga as an easy activity to stay moving, as it requires little space and can be practiced with minimal equipment.

While those who have previously attended classes may be able to perform their own flows, thankfully a number of online classes are available for students that require structure, or have little experience with yoga.

“The owner of Essential Yoga, Francesca Ter Poorten, has begun hosting several classes per day using Zoom. She is offering a variety of levels and types of yoga, giving students a lot of options. You can easily sign up online through their website, or through the Mind Body app,” said Taylor.

According to Taylor, there are also numerous easy to follow yoga classes to be found on YouTube or on apps like Down Dog.

“There are so many platforms on which to interact with people over the internet to do the same classes and exercises online. There are also, of course, your housemates and families. If you can get everyone involved and make it fun, it makes it way easier to keep at it,” said Taylor.

For those used to a higher intensity work out, but who cannot partake in their favourite activities due to social distancing, an alternative is to exercise at home.

“We know that physical activity is important in the best of times, but even more so during times of stress and uncertainty,” said Jana Wenzlawe, owner of CrossFit Fernie Mountain Fitness and Athletics. “Exercising is one of the best mental health strategies, and continuing to move is one thing that is within our control right now.”

To stay motivated, Wenzlawe suggests finding a Facetime workout buddy, as well as adding workouts to calendars for visual reminders. She proposes going for 30 to 45 minute daily outdoor walks, while also striving to incorporate up to four resistance style workouts weekly. These can be accomplished either with equipment, or by using milk jugs, water jugs, or backpacks filled with books to do squats, lunges, and presses.

“Simply carrying something heavy while on your daily walk provides a huge benefit. Just ensure you are doing so properly and safely with a braced core,” said Wenzlawe. “An easy addition to your daily dog walk would be to take one item with you. Take a jug of milk, hold it in one hand, and switch hands every minute. We call this a suitcase carry, and it’s a great unilateral loaded movement to help strengthen your core as well as other stabilizing muscles. Make sure to set up properly with a braced core (think ribs down and tight as if someone was about to punch your stomach), and pull your shoulders back and down. Do not let your shoulder fall forward. Imagine a Superman stance, big chest, shoulders down, but watch to not over arch your lower back.”

Wenzlawe also reminds the public that while fitness is important, so is nutrition. Alongside treating oneself, she recommends using the plate method when eating, wherein half a plate should be full of veggies, a quarter with protein, and another quarter with starch.

To continue offering their services and support, Fernie’s CrossFit centre has currently switched to a remote training program. Each member continues to train with their coaches through personal phone calls, texts, and videos. Their member Facebook group is also full of inspiring workout videos, encouraging words, and at home workout ideas.

With keeping active and tending to injuries being of high importance at this time, Fernie Physiotherapy has also switched to offering an online appointment alternative called telerehabilitation. According to Bob Maudie, physiotherapist and owner of Fernie Physiotherapy, they will be using a secure web based interface to allow the patient and therapist to carry out appointments through video. During these sessions, the physiotherapist will conduct regular assessments and offer at home exercise plans for patients. Fernie Physiotherapy will also be using an app to send video exercise programs through to clients so they have visual aids.

“This is available to everyone. We are doing it with current clients, and as of today accepting new clients. The insurance companies have jumped on board immediately, and some of the major ones in the Elk Valley, SunLife and Great West Life, are paying for sessions through private health care, and currently WCB and ICBC are also paying for sessions,” said Maudie.

Fernie Physiotherapy will also be offering free virtual physiotherapy sessions for people in need, as well as those struggling financially. Anyone interested in learning more about their telerehabilitation service, or to book an appointment, is encouraged to check online bookings for availability at or to email the clinic at

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Physiotherapist Bob Maudie telerehabilitates a patient. Photo Submitted

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