Trainer Samantha Clayton knows what it means to bring your A-game. The former sprinter competed on the world stage for Great Britain in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. And now, two decades later, she pours her talent and passion into helping others stay fit, strong and healthy as well. As VP of sports performance and fitness education for Herbalife Nutrition, Clayton creates fitness programs for elite athletes, corporate employees and customers, and—with the current pandemic restrictions in place—her own family.
We caught up with Clayton to see how she and her fam—husband and four teenagers—are faring at home, as well as to glean advice for our own shelter-in-places experiences. Here’s what she had to share.
On making exercise a priority: I think it’s a great time to reframe our thinking of feeling “stuck” at home and use this time to prioritize self-care and adopt a fitness routine. Regular exercise is important to stay healthy and has been linked to improved heart health and enhanced metabolic function. The body’s natural release of endorphins surges during bouts of physical activity, which will, at the very least, improve your mood. And during stressful times like these, one of the greatest benefits of performing regular exercise is its ability to make the activities of everyday life feel easier.
On keeping the whole family active: We are a sports family, so it’s part of our DNA to keep moving. I encourage all parents to make activities as important as eating healthfully. We don’t give kids a choice to skip meals, because we know food is essential for life—I feel the same way about moving the body.
I have a 16 year old and 14-year-old triplets, two boys and two girls! Every day we do a family dog walk, a 3.5-mile loop. At first no one wanted to go, so after the first week of staying at home, I decided to make it “non-optional”—our new family rule, so we could all get some fresh air, away from the computers.
Also, we currently also have a push-up competition going to see who can do 100 push-ups in the shortest time each day, which has us all laughing a lot. One of my sons has a set of dumbbells, and he does a workout every day for his online PE class. Both of the boys train with dad, playing catch and hitting baseballs off a T in the back yard. And every other day, the girls and I do a 20-minute HIIT session in my bedroom.
On the best home workouts: I love doing a full-body workout. My favorite muscle group is glutes, however, because it’s the largest muscle group in the body. So even if you’re not feeling motivated, or you have limited time to fit a workout in, just doing squats is a great option.
On at-home fitness equipment: You don’t need a lot of equipment to work out from home. At the very least, you may need a yoga mat to designate your space, perhaps a jump rope for your cardio, and resistance bands—otherwise you can use your own body weight and still get a great workout in.
On what she’s missing most: I truly miss my weekends spent as a soccer mom and baseball mom, cheering on my kids from the sidelines, watching them thrive and have fun while being active. I selfishly miss it for me, but more than that, I miss it for them. I know they are being brave, saying ‘it’s OK—we are fine,’ but I know deep down this is rocking their teenage world.
On her biggest social-distancing challenges: The hardest thing for me is figuring out what to cook each day! It’s a challenge figuring out how to keep my family fed and healthy during this time—trying to focus on the present and not on the future. The kids are missing out on middle school graduation, missing school trips, missing out on some of the things that help ready them for the next phases in their lives. But I’m keeping positive and staying thankful as I focus on keeping us all healthy.