Four pregnancies did not stop fitspo mum Dawn Sim from keeping active and fit every day. Neither will a pandemic.
Even during the circuit breaker period, the 41-year-old yoga and pilates instructor and founder of Trium Fitness continues to make exercise a priority, and not just a convenience, for herself and her family. Dawn has four daughters aged four, eight, 12 and 14 – they were all born via Caesarean section.
Here, we ask the active mum-of-four how she maintains her regular fitness routine while juggling mummy duties and managing her business from home.
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How are you staying fit and healthy during this stay-home period?
Dawn: I make sure that exercise is a priority and not a convenience for myself and my family. The girls join me for some fun and exercise on the mat, and we even play games where the loser does push ups or some form of exercise.
I also make sure to still buy healthy and fresh food from the supermarket instead of those loaded with preservatives and additives.
How have the circuit breaker measures affected your fitness routine?
I’ve always been a very outdoorsy person, and enjoy my weekly outdoor runs and swims. With the circuit breaker measures in place, I’ve had to take all my workouts indoors.
Exercising at home is nothing new to me except that I have to incorporate a lot more variations in my home workouts. This is so I don’t get bored and I can still get a very holistic training regime.
(Also read: Covid-19 stay home: How to manage your active toddlers, preschoolers)
What are the challenges you’ve faced in terms of adapting your workouts?
It would definitely have to be the lack of certain equipment such as my reformer and the long aerial hammocks that I have at the studio (Trium Fitness). Having four kids and a “needy” dog at home also means that I don’t get the peace and quiet that I can get when I’m at the studio.
For example, my “needy” dog is always next to me whenever I conduct online classes. Over the past few days, there were some thunderstorms and he kept trying to get on my lap. I literally had to swipe him away from my lap during my classes, which would give my students some time to catch their breath. It’s comic relief and quite funny.
So how do you get around these challenges?
I simply wake up early, as early as 5-plus in the morning sometimes, to get my peace and zen time to meditate. I also have to be creative, and have started using more household items that can be found at home, like water bottles, bath towels and chairs to do my workouts.
For my yoga and stretch sessions, for example, I’ll improvise with pillows and bolsters. At some point, I even lifted my flowerpot to do heavier lifting. I also get my kids to join in sometimes, for example when I’m doing leg presses. It’s fun because it’s an opportunity to bond with them.
You have to look after four kids, a fur-kid and run a business. How do you stay sane while juggling everything from home?
With the circuit breaker measures, my studio is temporarily closed and we’ve taken the classes online. It’s not entirely different from what I used to do, as I still conduct classes, except that I spend less time shuttling between classes and home.
I am however busier than usual because I now have to play teacher to the kids too as they have home-based learning (HBL). We usually plan the day in advanced. I’ll get the kids to share their HBL schedules the night before so everyone knows what to do the next morning.
Although my third and fourth children still need supervision, I’m very fortunate because my older kids are good at helping me take care of their younger sisters. For example, when I had to go out just now, my eldest was helping her younger sister with her Chinese homework. It makes my job easier!
What’s your parenting approach like?
I expose them to an active lifestyle, but I don’t push them to do anything they don’t want to. Similarly, at home, if they find something they like to do, I’ll let them do stuff on their own as long as they don’t break things in the house. All the furniture in the house have sliders so they can be moved around whenever the kids want to play. They don’t feel constrained.
I think giving the kids a certain level of independence is important. My older children were born in France where we lived for four years. Then, we moved to the US for two years. Back then, we didn’t have help at home so they grew up helping out a lot at home.
If we’re always just depending on grandparents, helpers or some other form of help, and your kids don’t get to learn independence from a young age, why would they want to learn to do it when they are older?
I also believe in letting the kids make some mistakes. As long as the mistakes are not so disastrous, I’ll ask them to go figure out how to troubleshoot them. But they also know that they can always turn to us if they really need help.
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What’s your advice to parents who feel like it is impossible to work out at home during the circuit breaker period?
Done is better than perfect. Even if you can only fit in 15 to 30 minutes of a workout, it’s still an achievement. If you do it consistently, you will still see results. Be creative and involve your kids when you can. A family that works out together is definitely closer and healthier.
Another thing I learnt from conducting online classes during the circuit breaker is the benefit of working out in a group. When you’re following a YouTube video, there is no one to motivate you. There is no accountability. In a virtual group class however, there is a sense of camaraderie and community because you know other people are “suffering” along with you.
Work out with us – Fit Mum Special
Young Parents and Shape Singapore want to celebrate mums, mums-to-be, and all the strong women around! Join us in this Fit Mum Special lineup of yoga, family workout and talk – and yes, Dawn will be leading us in three of these sessions.
(Photos: Dawn Sim/Instagram)
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