Fernanda Daldon is a Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer, who has 18 years of experience in teaching Water Exercise. Her passion lies in guiding her clients toward becoming stronger, healthier, and more active in their daily lives. In Milpitas, for the past few years, Daldon has been teaching a “Spring Chickens” Exercise class at the Barbara Lee Senior Center. When the twice-per-week class ended, due to shelter-in-place orders, Daldon started sending seniors a workout video to do every week; she’s doing what she can to support them in staying active at home, although she knows that the group misses the social interaction with one another.
Daldon spoke with The Beat about her own fitness routine, and how to stay fit and active while sheltering in place…
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
I work at the Senior Center here in Milpitas. I teach a chair-based group class. Most of my clients are 70 and older. It’s a group of 13 – 15 ladies that come to class. And I also work part-time as a Personal Trainer at the Senior Center. And I work at Villa Sport in San Jose, where I’m a Water Exercise Instructor, and also a Personal Trainer.
What has your experience been like sheltering in place?
It was a challenge trying to find a new routine. Because I needed to find a new routine for myself, and also for the kids. Everyone who has their own new routine needs to work with everybody together, right? So that was the hardest part. I think we’ve found a routine. So the kids are studying more in the morning, and I have time to cook and also help them out. We’re also trying to do things together, like cooking and organizing the house…it’s incredible how much more work in the house it is with everybody here. All the meals, and all the cleaning. Now I think we’ve organized a routine. I’m taking more time to play with the kids…we do puzzles, play dough, paintings. And now we exercise together.
What was your normal workout routine like before sheltering in place, and what is it now?
Before I used to work out 2 to 3 times a week, between 1 and 2 hours. I’d do some cardio and lift weights. I used to swim a little bit too; once a week or every other week. Now we walk through the neighborhood as much as possible. At home, we’re doing jumping rope. It’s a good cardio workout we can all do together. So for me, it was the thing that I decided to challenge myself on this month — to learn jumping rope as an exercise. So it has been fun.
We’ve also been working with elastic bands that I had in the house. So I do a few exercises, and the kids just play around with the elastic bands.
But I think the most important thing that sometimes people don’t realize is we can use our body weight to exercise. Just sitting or standing in a chair…if you do 10 repetitions, you are exercising with your whole body. Or you can just stay close to the sink of your kitchen and just do some push-ups. It depends on the inclination you position your body. It’s simple to use your body weight to exercise.
So is this the kind of thing that you’re integrating into your daily life? Like you’re doing it throughout the day while doing other activities?
Some days I take 30-40 minutes to do my exercise. But because the kids are around, sometimes it has to be 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there. It depends how the house is going with the kids’ activities. I think the most important thing right now is to move your body, no matter what you do. If you can play with the kids, lie down and do some planks or abs exercises. It doesn’t matter. Just be sure to keep your body moving instead of sitting on the couch and just watching TV.
Do you have any advice for people who need to stay motivated so they can stay on top of working out at home?
I think a lot of people wait for the motivation to come, and the motivation doesn’t come. You just need to set your mind and say: “I’m going to do this because it’s healthy; it’s going to keep my energy up.” So when the motivation doesn’t come, I always say to my clients, “You have to do what you have to do.” So take five minutes and do some sitting and standing in a chair. Play a little with the kids, if you have kids. Or just walk in the house. I’m from Brazil, and I used to have a great uncle over there. I remember he was 91 when he told me this. He passed when he was 101. And he said, “When I cannot go out to walk, I just do a [stationary walk]…He used to do a stationary walk. So he’d go to the back of the couch of his house, and just bring the knees to a 90 degree position and just do a stationary walk.
A stationary walk, you said?
Yes, a stationary walk. Just bringing up the knees to your hip…and moving. He used to do that for 5 or 10 minutes, depending upon how much energy he used to have.
And how long did he live until?
101. He passed 2 years ago.
That’s amazing. He was definitely motivated at that age to keep going. That’s probably why he stayed alive and healthy for so long.
And if you live in a house that’s 2 floors, just going up and downstairs. Just try to go 3, 5, and 10 times. And you’ll see your cardio going. If you have just one step in the house, you can go up and down, up and down…do ten ups and downs with one leg, and ten with the other one. And you’ll feel the sensation of exercising….And I think with the internet you can always go online and find ways of moving…with stretching, with yoga, low impact, cardio exercises, there are so many possibilities.
Any advice you have to give to people to keep healthy and keep their immune system strong during this time?
The immune system is very important right now. Sleeping is the most important thing. Sometimes we just keep watching TV and don’t take the time to go to bed and sleep the hours we’re supposed to sleep. I believe that’s the most important thing. And then to get some sun, to go out for some fresh air, and to get some vitamin D. And eat real food. Try to pay attention to the amount of sugar you’re eating, try to reduce the sugar, and eat the real food. Use the time you’re in the house to prepare your meals, and use fresh ingredients. And exercise is part of how to improve your immune system. Another thing I think is important while we’re in the house is to be connected with loved ones, with our friends and families. To call the ones you haven’t seen for a long time, or the ones that make you feel loved.
My focus is on the body and exercise because that’s what I work with. But I think it’s also important to feed your soul; it doesn’t matter your religion. Like with meditation, with prayer, with breathing…just to connect with yourself to feed your soul would be my last piece of advice.
I love that. These are little things sometimes we don’t really think about in terms of the role that they play in immunity but they really do. Having those relationships, reaching out to other people. That keeps our heart feeling healthy and strong. And like you said, with a spiritual practice. All of that makes a big difference. So thanks for bringing that up. Do you have anything else you want to share before we go?
I think we have to keep in mind that this is going to end at some point, right? So as strong as we keep in this moment, the stronger we are going to be for the days to come. So just to have that in mind. And use this time in the wisest way possible, to keep yourself strong and ready for what is going to come.
Thank you so much Fernanda. Thank you for taking the time to talk!