Youtube, Yoga, and Outdoor Walks: How the Westridge Community Has Been Staying Active


Pamela Reif on Instagram

On her Instagram, Pamela Reif shares weekly fitness routines ranging from beginner to 45-minute sweaty ones, making home workouts accessible to everyone.

As we reflect on one year of lockdown in the pandemic, one thing is for sure: our lives have quickly become more stationary, and many began searching for new ways of incorporating movement into their daily lives. What has the Westridge community been doing to stay active?

Many rely on guided workouts videos on Youtube and wellness influencers on Instagram. 24-year-old German Youtuber Pamela Reif, Australian fitness Youtuber Chloe Ting, and fitness author and Instagrammer Molly Galbraith are popular accounts that offer subscribers and followers a quick and easy way to work out from home with minimal space and equipment. “Pamela’s workouts are tortuous at the moment,” commented Anna F. ’23. “But I always feel so much better afterwards.”

Though some prefer intense movement, other members of the community engage in lower-intensity workouts, such as outdoor walks and yoga. “I’ve been walking my dog twice a day,” said Regina Wei, Co-Dean of Student Voices. “It helps to have a break away from the screen.” Wei, who has been practicing yoga for 14 years, attends Westridge’s employee yoga sessions and teaches yoga at Peace over Violence

No matter what the weather report says, Regina Wei and her dog, Ulu, always go out for daily walks (Regina Wei )

As with all forms of movement, it is best to find a type of exercise you enjoy. For Jenny Yurshansky, Upper and Middle School Art Teacher, it’s outdoor walks, hikes, and playing with her niece and nephew. “I lift them and I dance with them,” said Yurshansky. “So, for me, it’s a full-body workout when I’m with these kids.”

Recently, Jenny Yurshansky hiked 24 miles in a day at the Grand Canyon, traveling an elevation equal to three Eiffel Towers. (Jenny Yurshansky )

There are also those who favor both high and low-intensity exercise. Physical Education Teacher Allison Clark does a mix of strength training, cycling, outdoor runs, and walks.  “I try to hit 10,000 steps every day because, if you don’t intentionally leave the house, you’re definitely not walking,” said Clark. When she trains at her home gym, she does a combination of her own exercises along with movements from Instagram fitness coaches Darien Pyka and Daniel Aipa.  Clark noticed that she has become more active during the lockdown and her workouts have gotten more consistent. 

Movement not only impacts physical health, but also mental well-being. Mental health provider and clinician, Katharina Star, studies the impacts of exercise on mental health. “Exercise can alleviate many of the symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, tension, anger, and reduced vigor,” she said in an article titled “How Physical Exercise Benefits Mental Health.”

Ashley Z. ’24, who goes on walks with her family frequently throughout the week, noticed this effect. “It boosts my mood,” she explained. “I feel better about myself and my mental health as well. I’m just so happy that I was able to find an outlet where I could let go of negative energy and just spend time with myself and my family.” 

Another component of staying active is self-awareness. “We’re really good about scheduling meetings with other people,” said Yoga Teacher Courtney Seiberling. “I think it’s really important to schedule meetings with ourselves so that we make sure that we’re grounded and healthy so that we can be grounded and healthy for other people.” Seiberling currently enjoys following influencers Dianne Bondy, Michelle Johnson, and Kristine Huffman Lemoine.

Whenever Courtney Seiberling notices her shoulders becoming tense or her body aching, she steps away from her work and does a yoga session.

For those who wish to incorporate more movement into their lives, experts recommend starting small and finding something that you really enjoy. Wei offered her own suggestion.

“I would say start with a 10-minute walk every day, but make sure you do it every day,” she said. “And then naturally, as you start feeling the benefits of that walk, or run, or whatever you’re doing, you might actually want to extend it to 15 minutes and just do that for every day, or every other day, or whatever their schedule is. It just starts slow.”