Fitness a glue that sticks

Shelley Howlett, a certified fitness instructor, leads moms in two exercise classes through the city’s parks, recreation and culture department to get people active and healthy as families. - Rachel Stern photo
Shelley Howlett, a certified fitness instructor, leads moms in two exercise classes through the city’s parks, recreation and culture department to get people active and healthy as families.
— image credit: Rachel Stern photo

Mothers and their children can bond during exercise thanks to family orientated fitness classes offered through Nanaimo’s parks, recreation and culture.

Shelley Howlett, a certified fitness instructor said the classes create a positive environment for families to establish a routine of healthy activities together.

She created the classes because she tries to be active and create family activities for her two teenagers.

The rising rate of childhood obesity also inspired her.

“It’s insane the obesity rate in teenagers is going out of the roof,” said Howlett.

She said building the connection with children is important and just going out for walks or hikes with your kids helps promote active family activities.

Howlett leads moms in two fitness programs: fit together for teens and moms, and power punch boot camp – mom and baby.

Fit together runs Thursdays from 3:45-4:45 p.m. at the Departure Bay Activity Centre. It allows mothers and their teens to bond over challenging fitness activities including cardio, strength and flexibility exercises.

The workouts can be adapted to any fitness level and people can go at their own pace. Teenagers must be aged 12 or older to attend. The new session of begins Thursday (Feb. 16) and runs until March 15.

Power punch runs Fridays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Departure Bay Activity Centre.  The boot camp gives moms a full body toning workout that incorporates cardio boxing and other exercises to help burn calories.

The next session runs Feb. 24 to March 30.

Howlett said the class is a great atmosphere for mother. Mothers can interact with their baby’s by cradling them in their lap and doing a sit up toward them, or feel free to leave them in their stroller if they are content.

They have the freedom to stop in the middle of class and take care of their child’s needs, giving them a snack or a few comforting words.

“The mom can still get a workout and the babies are happy,” said Howlett. “I wish there was more of that when I had my kids and they were babies.”

She said it’s also a chance to forge relationships with other mothers who are interested in getting active.

The class gets the heart rate up with cardio then strength exercises are added finished off by a nice stretch. Howlett ensures people are safely doing the routine in proper form so not to injure themselves. Each exercise can be modified to fit people’s abilities. The class uses weights and bands.

Both classes can be adapted to a person’s fitness level.

“They are good fun. Come out and try them out,” she said.

Howlett has always been active, running and performing daily exercises. For the last three years has worked as a fitness instructor.

“I’ve always been very active. I’ve always gone to fitness classes, lots of mountain biking been very active,” she said. “I want to promote it to people because I think it’s important that people get exercise, even if it is a little tiny bit in the day.”

Howlett also teaches a variety of other fitness classes through parks and recreation including strictly toning, which focuses on strength and muscle endurance, and on the ball, a class that offers a variety of challenging workouts that focuses on cardio, strength and flexibility.

Her classes continue in the spring and will be listed in the upcoming leisure guide.

For more information please call 250-756-5200 or go to

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