Since the onset of COVID-19, 2020 has been a trying year, to say the least, but it is time to welcome a new year and make some healthy changes for you and your family. 

Twin Star

Now, more than ever, it is important to commit to health and wellness, not just by exercise of both body and mind, but eating healthy, and fostering relationships that bring support and connection to our lives.   

With state guidance that limits many of those opportunities, there are still a variety of ways to maintain or begin a healthy new lifestyle for 2021.

Getting Fit and Healthy in Pierce County This New Year
What people need from yoga varies, but Tuladhara Yoga Studio, in Lakewood, makes it accessible for every-BODY. Photo credit: Erin Burke, the Darling Bud

YOGA for Every-BODY

Yoga is an excellent source for improving flexibility and strength, and a wonderful stress reliever, with many overall health benefits for both mind and body. 

“Yoga is a great way to get into what is called ‘the rest and digest’ part of our nervous system,” said Alicia Barrett, owner of Tuladhara Yoga, in Lakewood, Tacoma, and Gig Harbor. “We spend most of our time in ‘fight or flight,’ multi-tasking, doing 16 things at once, and operate on this level of stress. While that’s not always bad, if we’re only in ‘rest and digest’ during our six to eight hours of daily sleep, that’s not enough.”

With regular practice, yoga can keep you in the stress-free zone more often throughout the day. By using the body movements, along with meditation, and breathwork, the body can be brought into ‘rest and digest’ very quickly, which is incredibly beneficial for tension release, and long-term wellness. 

What people need from yoga varies, but Tuladhara makes it accessible for every-BODY, with teachers and philosophies that range from kids to seniors, from beginners, to gentle, or challenging, “We really try to meet people where they’re at,” said Barrett. 

With over 30 classes live-streamed weekly, they were able to pivot early on with COVID-19 restrictions, investing in an online platform that would maintain their regular schedule. 

Depending on membership type, guests have access to, not only live streams but recordings of the class if they cannot make it during the scheduled time-frame. Tuladhara plans to maintain this feature, even after their intended reopening for in-person instruction once state restrictions are lifted.

Check out their new student special here.

Getting Fit and Healthy in Pierce County This New Year
While physical fitness is important, finding ways to connect with others and create a support system are more important than ever, for everyone, but especially for mothers. Photo credit: Janet Daly

HEALTHY MOMS

While physical fitness is important, finding ways to connect with others and create a support system are more important than ever, for everyone, but especially for mothers. Work out groups like Stroller Strong Moms Tacoma do precisely that.

“We focus on being yourself, and being the strongest and best version of yourself, which is very empowering,” said Janet Daly, owner, and fitness instructor for over 12 years. “But it’s also about being supportive of one another.”  

With a team of four instructors, including yoga, and running, the group shares a wealth of education in postpartum, pre-natal, and pregnancy fitness, as well as throughout all stages of the motherhood journey. 

“Having a team of instructors has really helped during COVID restrictions. We’ve done a lot of pivoting to meet the changes,” said Daly. “But with no more than five people within our in-person classes, we’ve been able to continue instruction, offering both morning and afternoon classes.” 

Face-to-face outdoor exercise takes place between Lakewood, JBLM, DuPont, and Lacey. The group meets at locations like Ft. Steilacoom, or Powderworks Parks, where parking lots are utilized to allow for greater social distancing. Masked instructors can still interact with participants and help them with form if needed.  

Members receive access to a short daily video instructional, so if they cannot make it, they can still complete the workout on their own time.

Another great benefit is being able to bring children along, especially with many daycares closed. However, lots of moms that join, do not bring kids at all. The group is open to everyone, and as a nationwide organization, known as SLAM, moms can join a branch within practically every U.S. state. 

Membership options and updates are found here.

Getting Fit and Healthy in Pierce County This New Year
The Lakewood YMCA offers both in-person outdoor and virtual adult group exercise classes. Photo courtesy: Lakewood YMCA

Fitness for ALL

The Lakewood YMCA offers both in-person outdoor and virtual adult group exercise classes. 

Some of these include Dance Fitness, Boot Camp, Cycle, and Senior Fitness, which are either small in-person groups under a covered pavilion area outside or taught virtually through Zoom. Members simply log in at virtual Y to join a class. 

“Our outdoor fitness classes help members that like the social workout setting to stay motivated and active. Virtual classes allow participants to work out safely at home and personally interact with their favorite instructors and friends live over Zoom,” said Yvette Lyons, Senior Director of Health and Fitness, Lakewood YMCA. 

The aquatics center is open for lap swim, water aerobics, water walking, as well as household family swim (for all ages) by making a reservation. 

There are virtual gymnastics sessions via Zoom, and Outdoor Family Adventures at Camp Seymour, like archery, boating, hiking, and zip lines.  

“This is a tough time for many and I am grateful to be able to offer a sense of normalcy for our members,” said Lyons. “Many of our older population are staying home, and swimming at the pool is the highlight of their week. Families with kiddos full of energy are grateful to be active together in our recreation pool.” 

The Lakewood YMCA is a part of the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties and includes Morgan (Tacoma), University Y Student Center (Tacoma), Mel Korum (Puyallup), Gordon (Sumner), Tom Taylor (Gig Harbor), Haselwood (Silverdale), and Bremerton. 

Check here for offerings specific to each branch.

Anytime Fitness, in DuPont, an independently owned and operated site, has been closed for in-house exercise since mid-November’s State Stay Home, Stay Healthy guidance. 

However, the DuPont family operated gym has been working to provide ways for its members and clients to stay active and healthy even though they do not have access to the club. 

Currently, they host live classes through Zoom, and Facebook Live, as well as virtual personal training for clients. The mandate does allow for outdoor workouts; therefore, some personal training is done in-person, one on one.  

They have even made many class links available to the public on their Facebook page, as well as virtual nutrition seminars anyone can join in on. 

“We definitely want to be a source of health for people and want them to know that we are still here for them,” said Hannah Ireland, Manager of Anytime Fitness, DuPont. “There are so many ways that people can continue to receive both the physical and mental benefits of exercise at home.” 

The DuPont gym plans to reopen just as soon as state mandates allow.

There are several privately owned and managed Anytime Fitness locations throughout the South Sound region. Check here for options available by location.

Getting Fit and Healthy in Pierce County This New Year
Boistfort Valley Farm offers a bounty of healthy food. Photo credit: Heidi Peroni

Eating Healthy

Besides exercising regularly, eating foods that are good for you goes hand in hand with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Becoming more intentional about the foods we put into our bodies, particularly where it comes from, and making sure that what we eat is as close to the source as possible, is a big part of that. 

In Washington, we are fortunate to have an abundance of food that is grown and harvested locally, year-round. Grow your knowledge about what is available nearby each season. It’s not just fruits and vegetables. There are a variety of producers of meat, poultry, seafood, cheese, nuts, herbs, grains, beans, and legumes, as well as eggs, dairy, and honey. 

You needn’t look further than local farmers markets, food co-ops, farms, produce stands, or CSA shares (Community Supported Agriculture) for year-long options to keep you and your family healthy. 

An initiative called The Eat Local First Collaborative has compiled an extensive list of ways to connect with local farms and food producers with the Washington Food and Farm Finder

“Consumers have more choices than ever before,” said Sheryl Wiser, of The Tilth Alliance, a member of the collaborative. “There’s a saying, ‘healthy farms, healthy foods, healthy communities.’”  

The resource lists farm shares and CSAs for fresh and safe grown foods, many that can be delivered, or picked up when buying a subscription in advance of the season. Not only does it offer healthy food choices, and teach how to eat healthy through all seasons, but it supports local farmers.   

“We deliver to neighborhood locations in Curtis, Chehalis, Centralia, Tumwater, Olympia, Tacoma, and DuPont twice per month from mid-November to May,” said Heidi Peroni, Owner at Boistfort Valley Farm, where both summer and winter shares are offered. “Each delivery includes a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit, along with simple recipes to make the produce easy to enjoy.”

January is a great time to begin eating healthier and start looking at the variety of CSA farm boxes available. The Washington farm finder tool is a resourceful place to start to locate winter markets, as well as future seasons, and local grocers that provide all the ingredients for clean eating.

Start 2021 off with a commitment to the overall health and wellness of you and your family. Through physical exercise, healthy eating, and nurturing much-needed connections that stimulate growth, and mental well-being, begin the year anew. Even with COVID-related closures, there are still plenty of opportunities to make a change for the better — you won’t regret it.

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