Mother-daughter fitness activities

Partner up for mother-daughter exercise to stay fit, and stay close

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Shared passions build strong bonds

Danielle Campbell, 21, and Kathy Campbell, 50, Courtenay, B.C.

On calm summer evenings, Kathy and Danielle Campbell ditch the dinner dishes and slip their kayaks into the Pacific Ocean to go for a paddle for an hour or two. From their home on the east coast of Vancouver Island, they cruise along the shoreline or out to a nearby island. “After a long day of work, it’s such a good way to relax and watch the sea life,” says Danielle, a University of Victoria student studying microbiology. “We often see seals popping up around us!”

She and her mom, Kathy, an administrator at an orthodontic practice, are no strangers to active outings. Over the years, they’ve biked, hiked, skied, competed in triathlons and taken a variety of fitness classes. “Exercise is just part of our family life,” says Kathy, who also bikes with her husband Jay, and runs with her 20-year-old daughter Paige when she’s home from military college.


The kayaking outings have led to greater core and upper body strength, which both Kathy and Danielle were looking to improve. They find their weekly hour-long Pilates class is a good complementary activity because it works similar muscles. Plus, they enjoy spending time together during the summers when Danielle is home from university. “Exercising together is an opportunity to be away from all  the other pressures of life; you can relax and focus on the task at hand and the person you are with,” says Kathy. “Being active together makes our relationship stronger, because we’ve developed mutual respect for each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” Case in point: Kathy loves running (which doesn’t interest Danielle), and Danielle loves swimming (which Kathy really dislikes). After years of trying to interest the other in their favourite sport, both have realized it’s just fine for them not to always be into the same things.


Still, their shared passions add up to a lot of fun. Also on the agenda in the warm months: geocaching, which they started when Danielle was a teenager. Essentially, geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher places a cache (a container, usually containing small decorative pins, stamps and other trinkets) somewhere in the world and then pinpoints its location using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Then he or she puts the coordinates online at the official site, where people can download the coordinates to their hand-held GPS and then go in search of the hidden treasure. Caches are often hidden in  a local park or nature preserve and can take an hour or more to find, so people get good exercise on the trails. There are millions of caches worldwide, and Kathy and Danielle sometimes go on geocaching trips, such as last year’s spring vacation in Palm Springs, Calif.

As Kathy puts it, “No matter what the activity, sweating together means smiling together!”

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Searching for adventure

Jacqueline Repei, 13, and Del Daignault, 50, St. Catharines, Ont.

Zooming over mountain bike trails fringed with ferns on the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario; kayaking through turquoise waters around tropical islands in Belize; hiking up ancient steps on Peru’s Inca Trail and catching the first glimpse of the sun-dappled ruins of Machu Picchu. Experiencing fun adventures like these makes it hard to remember that you’re keeping your body and mind fit at the same time. For Del Daignault, a lawyer in St. Catharines, Ont., and her teenage daughter, Jacqueline Repei, active outings are how they spend a good chunk of their time together. Along with Del’s husband (Jacqueline’s dad) Graham Repei, they take several wilderness hiking/kayaking trips every year, and every two or three years the family books a big trip, such as last summer’s week-long sea kayaking adventure off Vancouver Island’s coast.

“We’ve always done active things as a family,” says Del. “Jacqueline had her first multinight wilderness kayak trip when she was three-we put her in one of the gear hatches and gave her her own paddle.  I think being active together is part of being a role model as a parent, and plays a large part in teaching confidence and independence.”

The two also swim and cross-country ski together, and started cycling after taking a women’s mountain biking course during the summer Jacqueline was 11. The course, which taught skills like maintenance and technique, lasted for two hours once a week, plus weekly rides on local trails. Along the way, Jacqueline, who Del says is the superior cyclist, was able to give her mom a few tips. “It felt really nice to be able to help her out with choosing gears or how to get her wheel over a log,” says Jacqueline.

Their time together has other benefits, too. “I’m always happier when I am getting regular exercise, and having an upcoming adventure to look forward to is good for my mood,” notes Del. She adds that, thanks to her activities, she has a relatively high level of fitness. Jacqueline has noticed increased endurance and strength as she heads into her mid-teens. “I can stay up on my bike and I don’t have to slow down much for turns,” she says. “And with hiking, I used to sit down regularly because I was tired, but now I run along the trails with our dog, Biscuit.”

As for her time with her mom, Jacqueline says: “She’s my motivator; she’s my coach saying ‘C’mon, you can do it!’ and I try to do the same for her. Being active together builds your relationship. We have more things to talk about.” Del puts it simply: “It’s a joy.”

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Pushing their fitness boundaries

Morgan Thurston, 23, and Cathie Brookfield, 55, Dartmouth, N.S.

Cathie Brookfield had more than a few early mornings when her daughter, Morgan Thurston, was an infant and toddler. And now that they’re both adults, they still get an early start to the day. For the past two years, the Dartmouth, N.S., residents have ramped up their fitness levels by doing two fitness classes back to back, starting at 6 a.m. and lasting for a total of 90 minutes, six days a week. (On Saturdays, they get really decadent and wait until the 9 a.m. class.)

Cathie was the first to fall in love with the sessions-one is the current trendy spinning class, where stationary bikes tilt from side to side to mimic a real bike ride; the other is a boot camp class that combines light weights, kettle bells, resistance bands and exercises such as push-ups and squats. “The first time I went to a trial class, I loved the intensity. I signed up [for more classes] before I left the gym that day,” remembers Cathie, president of an interior decorating firm. She invited Morgan, who lives at home while she’s studying criminology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, to join her. And while Morgan initially hated the pre-dawn risings, she was soon hooked on the classes, too.

Not surprisingly, the physical payoffs have been significant. Cathie, who had always been active with cardio classes and weights, found this routine took her to a new level. She lost 25 pounds in her first year, and has noticed how her arms and core have become stronger. She routinely lifts 25- to 35-pound kettle bells and dumbbells now. Says Morgan:  “I hardly worked out when I was in high school; I was skinny but didn’t have any muscle mass. Now my waistline is defined, my arms have more muscle and I can run for ages without getting tired or out of breath.”

The pair cherish their time together. Cathie was a single mom for more than 15 years until she remarried six years ago-her blended family now includes three adult step-kids-so she and Morgan are used to spending a lot of time together (before they began the fitness classes, they power-walked). “But when you’re in your teens you don’t want to talk to your mom that much,” Morgan recalls. “Now we’re definitely closer than we ever were when I was in high school. We talk about school, friends, everything; and we have fun at the classes. My friends think my mom is one of the cool moms, and they all wish they could work out with their moms, too!”

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