Les Mills Ambassador Caley Jack returned home to her native South Africa and went straight into the country’s COVID-19 enforced lockdown. She shares her thoughts on self-isolation, pregnancy, and how she stays positive in the face of uncertainty.

SARAH SHORTT: What’s the lockdown situation where you are?

CALEY JACK: [My husband] Rikki and I had been in the States since January, scheduled to return back to South Africa in early April. We managed to move our return flights earlier and we got on the LAST plane that flew into South Africa from Atlanta, Georgia! National lockdown across South Africa was enforced two days after we touched down in Cape Town.

During lockdown in South Africa we are only permitted to leave our homes should we need food or medical assistance. We can’t even take our dogs for a walk in our neighbourhood or around the block.

Our family assisted us for the first two weeks as Rikki and I needed to self-quarantine in case we had picked up the virus along our travels home. Our parents dropped off our groceries in our driveway and we would wave to them through the window. Having not seen them for three months, we just want to squeeze them so tightly!

How are you managing with self-isolation?

Through trial and error – I’ve found accountability works best for me! I’m not an early morning riser by nature; I’m generally at my most productive in the evenings. Without my morning classes at the gym or having children around (yet), I’m more likely to procrastinate during the day if I’m not 100 percent focused; setting a daily intention is vital! I’ve been doing a 21-day accountability challenge (#21daycovid19challenge) with my Instagram family and it’s been amazing! Top tips: make your bed, do your hair, brush your teeth and keep your house tidy as if you were expecting a visitor. It seems so basic and so like… duuhhh, but are we really doing these things daily!?

It’s going to be wonderful when we are able to come back, reignited with our passion, potentially new-found passions, and new energy!

What might the situation mean for giving birth?

Our due date is 26th July and it’s a very unknown space for us right now. Will South Africa still be struggling with the pandemic at that stage? Our obstetrician has been amazing and I trust that she will do her best to support our birthing experience. I can’t imagine going through the birth without Rikki by my side.

How are you looking after your mental health as well as physical health?

Mental health: 1) Sticking to a framework of routine during the week 2) Remaining anchored to positive resources that fuel my mind and mood daily 3) I’ve learnt over the years that most of our personal growth comes from being outside one’s comfort zone, so I’m trying to embrace it and the opportunities I can create from it.

Physical Health: 1) I go grocery shopping with a full tummy to prevent buying ALL the naughty delicious items at the store, haha! Therefore, keeping our food preparation a top priority has been key. Being pregnant though, I can definitely say that craving salads has not been part of my experience, more like... give me a slab of chocolate and I’m a happy girl – so we can see the real struggle here right?!

Exercise: I am simply a happier version of myself once I’ve exercised! I know it nourishes my mind and my body, but most importantly right now it’s good for the baby. I train four to six times a week, with recovery days in-between.

How are you staying optimistic and hopeful?

Abiding by the health and safety guidelines set by our government is so important. We’ve been incredibly impressed with the leadership our South African President and government have shown during this time and I truly believe that when we role model what we expect of others, it creates a ripple effect of positive changes! Also, knowing that personal growth comes from being out of our comfort zone, what better time than now to be exploring new avenues of ourselves while the world takes some time to rest and recuperate. Huge respect and appreciation to all those working on the frontline of this crisis while many of us get to stay within a safe environment – thank you!

You are human; every day is going to be slightly different. Some days are easier than others and you just have to be okay with that.

What tips would you share with Instructors on managing the current situation?

Number 1: It’s important to check ourselves before preaching to the choir! (I hope you know what I mean?) To be true to ourselves and authentic role models to others within the health and fitness space we need to be practicing what we’re instructing!

Number 2: Thankfully technology has enabled many of us (group fitness Instructors as well as personal trainers) to leverage online platforms. USE THESE. Be resourceful. Grow and learn through this new space.

Number 3: Finances aside, having time off is a wonderful opportunity to replenish our own systems, fill our cups and reset our minds and bodies. So many of us within the health and fitness space are exhausted (mentally and physically) – I feel this is the universe’s way of helping us to reset. It’s going to be wonderful when we are able to come back, reignited with our passion, potentially new-found passions, and new energy!

Any pregnancy specific tips?

I’ll be uploading some content on my Instagram page real soon, starting with my top five fitness tips for soon-to-be moms. I’ll be going into detail so to those reading this, please do check it out if you’re wanting some more knowledge around this topic! A little teaser for you:

  1. Assess what risk category you fall within (consulting your healthcare professional) to establish what fitness journey is going to be safe for you and baby. In my opinion, this is absolutely rule number one for pregnancy fitness.
  1. Pelvic floor and KEGEL exercises, TMI (too much information)? Naahhh, we need to be educated around this topic. A strong pelvic floor is so important during pregnancy and learning about postnatal pelvic floor rehabilitation is as important as your cup of coffee in the morning!
  1. Low impact cardiovascular exercise is healthy for you and baby (given you’re in a low/moderate risk category pregnancy). Post-exercise, the oxygen and nutrient value within your blood is elevated and this pumps through your placenta to your baby – golden juice!
  1. Preparing for labor? A strong and healthy body is going to set you and your baby up for the best possible outcome during your birthing experience and your recovery. A strong heart, conditioned muscles and a healthy/stable mindset are all by-products of consistent exercise!
  1. Mobility and flexibility: setting time aside weekly to stretch will help ease some of those daily aches that accompany pregnancy, as well as helping you sleep better at night.
  1. Giving yourself grace. Pregnancy can look super cute on people, but going through the journey yourself is a rollercoaster! Your body is changing and evolving and you will experience all of the hormonal ups and downs. You are human; every day is going to be slightly different. Some days are easier than others and you just have to be okay with that. To prevent ‘losing yourself’ in the process, make sure you have a support system around you that can help you stay accountable to your health (both physical and mental). This has helped me tremendously – support and accountability help steer us back on track when we let our hair down at times! You’ve got this guys ... to the supporting team members and our Mommy-to-be!

Caley Jaäck is a BODYBALANCE/BODYFLOW, LES MILLS BARRE and LES MILLS GRIT Trainer, a BODYPUMP Instructor and a BODYCOMBAT and SH’BAM Instructor/Presenter. Based in Cape Town, she is also a Les Mills Ambassador for BODYBALANCE/BODYFLOW, SH’BAM and LES MILLS GRIT. Follow Caley @caley.jack