Updated: Feb 9
By Rochelle Brenner
Starting in March, life got slower and more mundane. There was nowhere to go. It started to wear on Julia and her 16-year-old daughter Ella. All of Ella’s high school classes were online from home. Julia’s teaching job required that she sit behind a computer from her living room.
“We were slipping into a sedentary lifestyle,” Julia said. “As a mom during Covid, so many people aren’t doing things to take care of themselves.”
Inspiration struck when she was scrolling through her social media news feed and saw a mother and daughter at Action Karate Mt. Airy getting their black belts together.
“I thought, ‘We can do that.’ It will get us active and spending time together.’”
Ella was interested, but not quite as enthusiastic. She liked the idea of learning karate but Zoom was intimidating. She didn’t want to see herself on-camera, which is a common concern of new students. At Action, the instructor allowed Ella to stay off-camera during the group class. This accommodation helped ease Ella into the rhythm of training and gain skills without being self-conscious.
“She slowly moved on camera with me and has even helped out with some of the kids classes,” Julia said. Ella helps as an assistant instructor with pre-school aged kids.
Head instructor Tim Wetzel invited Ella to a certified instructor course and instructor training classes. He encouraged her to lead on Zoom.
“Her level of confidence has improved dramatically. It’s been very cool to see that,” Tim said.
Julia and Ella have been regulars on Zoom classes. The virtual class had some unexpected benefits that captivated the new students. Julia said she wasn’t sure if she could learn on Zoom, but Mr. Tim breaks down the techniques piece by piece. They can practice on each other because they are in the same room doing it together. By starting with virtual classes, they were able to avoid the initial intimidation or fear that new students often feel when they try something new. They have since been comfortable coming to outdoor classes and especially enjoyed karate with goats at Awbury Arboretum. And on Zoom, they can be ready for class with 90 seconds of preparation as opposed to leaving the house.
“Our two biggest reasons were fitness and also a level of confidence. One we could feel accomplished in and proud of also being pushed and going further than we thought we could,” Julia said. “I’m definitely stronger. My muscles feel different which is one of the things I love about it. My endurance is better. Committing to do it regularly emotionally, I’m doing something to take care of myself right now.”
Now the mother and daughter are the ones posting their progress in fun social media pics -- training with nunchucks and playfully attacking each other. And they want to be the next mother-daughter black belt team.
“Six months into it, we’re like, we want to get our Black Belts.”