With more than two weeks of self-isolation and social distancing under our belts and no clear end in sight, cabin fever is starting to set in. But Loudoun’s movers and shakers are fighting the COVID blues with creative ways to get moving and stay active. Loudoun Now checked in with a few of the community’s favorite cabin fever busters with suggestions from Zumba in your living room to starting a garden.
When dance teacher and Zumba instructor Danielle Sirinsky realized that COVID-related gym closures were going to be around for a while, she had to take action, both for her own sanity and as a way to help her community. Sirinsky has been teaching daily weekday Zumba classes from her living room since March 16.
“I knew I wanted to do something that would not only help my community feel good about themselves but help me feel good about myself as well,” said Sirinsky, who lives in Leesburg with her husband and two daughters. “I know I need to give myself self-care because I’m now stuck in the house with two teenagers. … It helps me get up and gives me purpose.”
For Sirinsky, who teaches dance at Loudoun School of Ballet and taught Zumba at Leesburg’s LA Fitness for eight years, one of the upsides has been reconnecting with former students, including several who live out of state.
“It’s nice to just see the connections,” Sirinsky said, adding that her imperfect class from her living room can get goofy with jokes, occasional stumbles and stories about her day. It’s creating a sense of community and camaraderie. Another benefit of the online format is that it provides a low-pressure environment for exercise.
“It’s so important to keep yourself moving…It’s a mental escape from what we’re all going through right now. It puts you in the health mindset,” Sirinsky said. “Now more than ever, it’s just important to move. It doesn’t matter how you move…The beauty about this is there is no one watching. It doesn’t matter if you make a fool of yourself. As long as you’re moving, you’re doing it right.”
Sirinsky offers Facebook Live classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8 a.m. and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 4 p.m. via her personal page. She accepts donations via PayPal or Venmo.
“It’s not expected but of course welcomed and appreciated,” Sirinsky said. “I’m going to keep doing it no matter what.”
For Tiffany Coombs, owner of Lotus Town Yoga in Lovettsville, yoga is a way to take the focus off worry and onto the present moment, using both breath and movement.
“My main process is just to remember to breathe. … It’s so easy to forget to breathe when things are less than ideal because everything is a little crazy,” Coombs said. “There’s just so much uncertainty sometimes and it’s a little scary. Just remembering to breathe is so powerful, and from a scientific standpoint, the breath actually helps you to calm down. It’s a real thing that the breath, especially the exhalations, help you to calm down.”
For Coombs, the decision to close her studio in downtown Lovettsville and go virtual was tough but necessary, but she’s adapting thanks to online resources and is watching a new community grow.
“It was kind of a scramble to figure out what I was going to do,” she said. “I needed to keep my business running and I want to be a support for people. I know how helpful [yoga] is for me, and it’s good to share that with other people.”
Coombs is offering a weekly free class in addition to a paid monthly membership including unlimited online classes and membership in a private Facebook group with tutorials and other tips. Just like for Sirinsky, the sense of community opening up online has been a silver lining.
“It actually opens up more possibilities for people to be able to practice in general. Sometimes it just doesn’t work in your schedule to be able to go to a class as it’s happening,” Coombs said. “Nothing compares to practicing with other people in person, but people are still able to interact with one another and make comments on the Facebook group as the class is happening or after. People are sending pictures of their home yoga studios. That’s actually been really fun to watch that unfolding and transforming as people are interacting more.”
Check out a free class and find out about signing up for a month of virtual yoga at facebook.com/lotustownyoga
With Loudouners (and the rest of the DMV) hungry for opportunities to get outside, things at some popular destinations are getting too close for comfort. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has asked Americans to stay off the trail for now, as favorite day hiking destinations get clogged with nature lovers. This includes Loudoun’s beloved Bear’s Den hike near Bluemont. Fortunately, there are some less crowded options in and near Loudoun. Just be sure to use common sense and practice social distancing protocols when you visit.
• The non-profit Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship near Neersville at Loudoun’s northwestern edge offers 10 miles of hiking trails and lots of gorgeous scenery. For details, go to blueridgecenter.org.
• Morven Park in Leesburg has closed its main gates, parking areas and all buildings. However, the park’s pedestrian entrance on Old Waterford Road remains open for walkers to explore its 1,000 gorgeous acres. For more information go to morvenpark.org.
• The C&O towpath, managed by the National Park Service, remains open with access in Brunswick and Point of Rocks, MD, just across the Potomac from Loudoun. Buildings, restrooms and some parking lots are closed. For details, go to nps.gov/choh.
• As of March 24, Northern Virginia Park Authority parks are closed to vehicular access, but trail systems remain open. Buildings, nature centers, playgrounds and other features are also closed. Popular NOVA Parks facilities include Brambleton Regional Park, the W&OD bike trail, Rust Sanctuary and others. For a list of parks and guidelines, go to novaparks.com
Gardener and farmer Deborah Dramby of Bluemont is encouraging Loudouners to start gardens during the crisis. Dramby’s free two-hour gardening tutorial on Facebook Live last Saturday drew an overwhelming response with nearly 200 enthusiasts tuning in. That tutorial is still available to the public on Dramby’s Facebook page, and she’s planning additional shorter videos in coming weeks, including a “Plant a Pizza Garden” workshop on small-scale container gardening. For Dramby, passing on knowledge is important, but she’s discovered that she’s also creating community.
“That’s been the most magical part,” Dramby said. “Having all these conversations open with people about their gardens. … I think our biggest lesson was that people are missing interaction. A lot of people wrote saying it was nice to feel normal again.”
To check out Deborah Dramby’s gardening seminar, go to facebook.com/debdramby.
Shaking Things Up: COVID Edition
Here are just a few suggestions for Loudouners looking to beat cabin fever, get moving or try something new. Do you have an upcoming or ongoing virtual fitness, cooking, gardening or other class? Email email@example.com or list your virtual events at getoutloudoun.com.
Clear your mind and move your muscles with free and low-cost exercise options from some of Loudoun’s favorite instructors:
- One of Leesburg’s fitness hubs, Ida Lee Recreation Center, is broadcasting short workouts with favorite fitness instructors under the hashtag #idaleeathome. Check out facebook.com/idaleepark.
- Lovettsville’s Lotus Town Yoga offers weekly free classes Sunday mornings. Love it? Sign up for a monthly membership for $130 and get access to unlimited classes and a private Facebook group. Go to facebook.com/lotustownyoga.
- Five Peaks Yoga in Leesburg offers live and on-demand yoga classes. Virtual drop-in for $15 or use existing class passes. Go to facebook.com/fivepeaksyoga.
- Danielle Sirinsky’s Zumba classes are live at 8 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Classes are open to the public and payment is by donation. Look for Danielle Sirinsky on Facebook.
- Purcellville-based Emily Ledford Fitness & Nutrition has switched out in-person classes for online workouts. Ledford offers live 30-minute classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:45 am. Monthly fee is $29.99. Ledford also offers free mini-workouts if folks want to check out her approach in advance. Go to facebook.com/emily.ledford.fitness.
- Purcellville’s Burr Strength and Performance offers classes for members as well as free Facebook Live workouts for non-members. There’s also a twice a week program designed for elementary and middle school kids at a fee of $15 per family. Go to facebook.com/burrstrength.
- Fitness Image Results, which offers in-person bootcamps around the county, now hosts online bootcamps every morning via Facebook Live. Go to facebook.com/fitnessimageresults.
- Loudouners are also working out online with these local favorites:
Purcellville’s Noble Athletics: facebook.com/nobleathleticsgym
Ashburn’s ROCK Fitness & Performance: facebook.com/rockfitnessperformance
Catoctin Crossfit: facebook.com/catoctincf.
- Deborah Dramby Virtual Gardening Workshops
Deborah Dramby of Bluemont. A two-hour free gardening seminar that aired March 28 is still available on her Facebook page. Dramby is planning another live event for Saturday, April 4. Go to facebook.com/debdramby.
- Virtual Farm Tour at Planetary Farms
Check out Hillsboro’s new agro-adventure Planetary Farms, which specializes in growing a wide range of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and flowers. The farm is currently growing over 400 varieties of plants. Its first virtual tour is scheduled for Sunday, April 5 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at facebook.com/planetaryfarm.
- ZaZa Zoom Cooking Classes at Petite Loulou
Purcellville’s Petite Loulou is offering a series of interactive Zoom cooking classes for adults and children of all ages. Upcoming classes include Cadbury Egg Croissants on Sunday, April 5 at 2 p.m. and homemade Nutella (yes you read that right) on Wednesday, April 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $20. Pick up class kits at the restaurant before the class. Go to facebook.com/petitlouloucafe.