Six simple steps — Keep going strong while sheltering in place

Published 4:33 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

Easy hints to stay well, maybe get ahead while staying home


A few locals who can rightly be considered experts in their fields were asked by The Daily Leader to suggest some simple things people can do while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even for those who are essential workers, still working outside the home, these suggestions may come as a welcome help.

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Six simple steps to stay healthy, from personal trainer Chris Huffman, Fellowship of Christian Athletes area representative

  1. Nutrition — lays the foundation for fitness and health

You need a simplified four-component system that mirrors the way most people eat — healthy vegetables, healthy fruits, healthy proteins (chicken, meat, dairy and nuts) and healthy grains (wheat, rice, oats, corn meal, barley or another cereal grain).

A healthy balance of 25 percent of the four components will satisfy you and burn fat. As much as 50 percent can come from healthy vegetables.

As a side note, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended we all wear masks when out in public. If the struggle is real, feel free to wear one in the house — not just to prevent the virus but to prevent excessive overeating.

  1. Cardio (cardiovascular/heart health) — two types that both decrease body fat

We focus on both anaerobic capacity and aerobic capacity. Anaerobic is exerting tremendous force over a very brief time. Basketball, gymnastics, weightlifting, a one-mile run and jumping rope are all examples. Aerobic is engaging in moderate low-power output for an extended period of time. Walking, marathon running, long distance swimming and endurance cycling are all examples.

  1. Weight training

Use kettlebells, dumbbells, free weights and heavy objects. Use what you have and cross train; there is no ideal routine. An example would be putting your kids and/or spouse in a wheelbarrow and wheeling them around the yard or neighborhood. It’s a fun ride for them and, depending on how many kids you have, an intense workout for you.

  1. Gymnastics

Body weight movements are the sole source of resistance. Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, cartwheels, hollow rocks, “Supermans,” “dead bugs” and plyometrics are a few examples

  1. Sport

Get outside and play. Throw a baseball, play dodge ball, hot box, basketball, row with a rower — the list is endless.

  1. Mobility/flexibility

Stretching, such as yoga, which lengthens the muscles. Dynamic mobility mimics involve doing certain movements to improve the range of motion for the activity you are about to do. Do froggers, bear crawls, monkeys, inchworms, etc. It’ll be a fun trip to the home zoo for the children.

Start off small and slow with the mindset to incorporate all six steps. Small sustainable changes over time create long-term change. Remember, you don’t have to be great at the start, but you have to start to be great. Let your “why” become a catalyst in setting you up for success. Have fun, be creative and enjoy.


Six simple steps to learn an instrument from home, by music teacher Greg Smith, Downtown Music Academy

  1. Get your instrument in shape.

Having a clean, properly tuned instrument is essential to success. This is usually the hardest for stringed instruments — guitar, violin, mandolin, etc. For tips on tuning your instrument, do a quick web search or send a Facebook message to our Downtown Music Academy for personalized help.

  1. Find your practice space.

Learning an instrument is also about learning focus. So limiting distractions is important. Also, having your instrument set up and easily accessible is key to maintaining a practice routine. If you have to struggle to get started, you are less likely to follow through.

  1. Make time for practice.

One mantra of most music teachers is “Practice 30 minutes a day.” That is certainly a great goal, and keep in mind you can split that up into 10-minute intervals throughout the day if it helps. Also, audio recording your practice is a smart way to chronicle your progress and hold on to future musical ideas.

  1. Find your rhythm.

When practicing solo, it can be easy to play too fast or too slow. Most teachers recommend practicing with a metronome, but keep in mind that playing along to music will help you learn to keep time, as well. Also practice new material very slowly. You save time in the end by practicing new music very slowly at first, then gradually faster.

  1. Expand your horizons.

Most people have a preferred genre of music, but it’s important to listen to all types of music. Just as an author must read, a musician must listen to music. Opening up to different styles and musicians that are not “mainstream” will ultimately expand your view of what your instrument can do.

  1. Goals, goals and more goals.

When I meet a new student I always ask, “Why do you want to play this instrument and what is it you want to achieve?” Setting goals is essential to success in music and life. Whether the goal is to learn your favorite song, master a new scale or entertain your family and friends, the important thing is to know what you want to achieve.


Six simple steps to growing your creative practice, by artist Derek Covington Smith, The Little Yellow Building

  1. Set a time

Treat it like your temporary job while we are all at home. It could be 30 minutes or hours, just make sure you show up to work. If you are isolated in a home with others make sure they know that this is do not disturb time. Dedicating this time to accomplish something you have wanted to do can make all the difference in your day-to-day.

  1. Set up a space

Find a spot where you can set up your art supplies and not have to put it away every night. This is your studio no matter how small. It could be a chair and an end table, just as long as it is there for you to show up to everyday. It also helps to keep it tidy. Organize your tools and get your new “office” ready to walk into the next day.

  1. Make a list

This is your time to learn and practice anything you want! That’s also a lot of pressure, and sometimes you can get lost in the possibilities. Lists help out with that. What would you like to do? Maybe you want to draw better, create watercolor landscapes or expand your artistic vocabulary? Write down every goal. When you show up you can choose from the list and get to work. If the list is too hard to pick from, cut them apart and put them in a coffee cup. Each day when you come in, draw your new assignment.

  1. Research and Time limits

We live in an age where the minds of generations are at our fingertips. Almost anything you would like to learn has been documented in one form or another and can be found even stuck at home with a phone. When you choose (or pull) what you are working on for the day, give yourself a set amount of time to research the how and why. How would I go about drawing a fish? What is it about a large black painting from a long time ago that looks like a kid could make it important? How do I create a watercolor landscape?  Make sure you set a time limit because the internet is a black hole you can get sucked into.

P.S. You’re in your studio, give Facebook a break. When in doubt Google it!

  1. Practice makes perfect

Usain Bolt did not break the world record the first time he put on running shoes, he had to train until one day he did. We need to give ourselves the same respect an athlete does, where the goal is to get a little bit better everyday. Show up, do the work and results will grow. Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.

  1. To share or not to share?

It is ok to keep your art to yourself if you want. It is also ok to share your art with the world. The important thing is that you do not let the opinions of others affect you. This is not a simple task, and one that every creative struggles with.. When we receive positive feedback we tend to lean in that direction even if we didn’t really care for what we did. The opposite with negative criticism. We will stop creating what we enjoy if we let it get to us. You do you.

Some of us create for therapeutic purposes and that doesn’t always need to be shown or critiqued by strangers. Only share what you are comfortable with and with time you may want to share even more.

I talk about treating it like your job, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had at work. Show up, do the work, and reap the rewards.


With suggestions from these Brookhavenites on how to keep yourself engaged and productive, it is our hope that this time of isolation and different daily routines produces something positive.