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From cooking to fitness, virtual activities the entire family can share and enjoy

Monika Jacobson of Eat Move Thrive Spokane. (Eat Move Thrive Spokane)

Homebound families can tap some new creativity on apps and virtual classes designed to help adults and kids take fun breaks together while quarantining.

Programs range from a Spokane virtual cooking class to a new app offering family-friendly fitness and food prep done together. The ideas can fit into the day between when parents do jobs at home and kids finish schoolwork.

Here are a few options for the entire family.

Virtual cooking classes

Monika Jacobson, a Spokane registered dietitian, runs a nutrition consulting business, Eat Move Thrive Spokane. She recently launched a weekly virtual cooking class as a series with healthy recipes geared to families.

Each class is $10, and you don’t have to be a customer to register. The classes are listed under the events tab on the company’s website. Once signed up, families receive recipes, a shopping list and a Zoom link to the 4 p.m. session each Sunday.

Jacobson typically goes through two recipes each class. “They’re about a one-hour class, give or take.”

At least once a month, one of the classes will aim for kids to take charge, including one on May 17. Her daughter Finley, 5, is expected to be her assistant.

“We’re going to be making two healthy snacks kids can easily make, but they’re ones that kids and adults can enjoy together. One is sweet, and one is a savory healthy snack.

“I would say the kids’ classes specifically are even more remedial cooking skills, so kids as young as 3 can participate.”

Jacobson, who includes nutrition tips, said the virtual classes have spiked in popularity, the last one drawing in 40 households, mostly local. The format allows questions while she’s teaching.

“I’m envisioning kids and parents with their Zoom cameras; it’s actually interactive. If someone has a question, everyone is seeing everyone’s video. It’s a huge plus as opposed to following a YouTube tutorial because you have that interaction with me.”

She also has offered specials such as four classes for $35.


L.A.-based fitness expert Andrea Marcellus spoke with The Spokesman-Review about how her app, AND/life, has added more content recently designed for families to get in short bursts of fitness or cooking together while stuck at home.

Marcellus, 47, has two young kids and said realistic fitness must fit in around everyday busy lives, whether with short workouts in the kitchen or home office or use of new content geared to kids and adults being active together.

“I keep adding classes for family,” Marcellus said. “My fitness philosophy is based around shorter workouts so you can be consistent. That consistency is far more important to your health.

“With the app, we have activities to do at your desk or at the kitchen countertop so you think about fitness throughout the day.”

She also has “toss-together” recipe ideas that even young kids could help prepare.

“While this pandemic of course has its challenges, it’s the perfect time for families to stay active and prepare nutritious meals together and to empower one another to develop healthy habits,” Marcellus said.

“Every recipe on the app is designed for busy people and also applies to do them with kids. There are easy to develop as habits in this time when people aren’t going out to restaurants.”

She encourages realistic goals such as 20 minutes of exercise each day along with just standing and walking more often.

The app through Friday has an offer of free use for 60 days. It always will have guest options with free features, she said. Tips and fitness options are short. Some sessions are designed so that parents can do them with their kids.

It offers lifestyle tracking that includes drinking water reminders, notifications to stand up and food strategies such as how to eat nutritionally with portion control for most of the day but then enjoy dinner with family, Marcellus said.


Launched in 2013, GoNoodle designs kid-friendly physical activity videos and active learning created by child development experts for “brain breaks.”

It’s used in 4 of 5 U.S. public elementary schools, but the company is encouraging use by families at home during this pandemic with its free app or on the website. GoNoodle is described as having “300-plus dance videos, yoga exercises and mindfulness activities for kids.”

Designers suggest using it to have a family dance-off, sibling yoga session or breaks to groove to songs. “GoNoodle: Good Energy at Home” is part of the online resources for parents, caregivers and kids.

“We have so many kids home from school, we want to keep ‘Good Energy’ going,” the website said. “It offers free movement, yoga and mindfulness videos, downloadable curricular activities and off-screen home activities.”

Designed for kids ages 4-10, GoNoodle each week introduces videos, including ones on dance, sports, exercise, stretching and deep-breathing sessions with colorful scenes and characters.