Happy May! I’m super excited for this month’s focus to be on family fitness. All of you that know me, understand how passionate I am about movement and sharing my knowledge. More than ever it’s important that we set a positive template of movement and nutrition for our kids—and it starts with you.
Setting the Foundation
I was lucky growing up, my parents always encouraged my sister and I in our athletic endeavors and set an example for us to follow. My dad didn’t work out per se, but was active in his work and skied through the winter months. He was also the one to spearhead family hikes and outdoor activities. I will admit, as I kid, I hated the idea of them, but always had a blast once I was out there, and now really enjoy my time in the woods and in nature.
My mother was a great model of activity and a regular at her “keep fit” class, tennis courts and skiing. I have a grey memory of an exerciser she had that tied around the doorknob and offered resistance as well as all the calisthenics of the Jane Fonda era. (Think a cross between a TRX and a Core X.) Funny, things haven’t changed that much as far as fitness toys go, we just call it something else and package it a little prettier.
As many of my clients can relate, this was a time when we freely played games outside (instead of in front of a screen) and it was near impossible not to be active in some way. I am grateful for the example my parents set for us in prioritizing movement and activity, and this is the model that I followed with my son as he grew up—that and a hard-fast rule that he always had to do something active (a sport or activity).
Once he found his love for basketball this was a non-issue but there were a few years that I know he would gladly have foregone the movement for sofa time. It was a hard stop for me as I knew how important movement was for his body, mind and of course my sanity so he didn’t bounce off the walls (all of you that have boys and active girls know what I’m talking about). He is now an adult and I feel fortunate that he shares my passion for exercise. We are known to hit the gym together to crank some weights and although he is now stronger than me and despite his noticeable height advantage, I still think I’d win a race (al least on anything longer than a basketball court!)
My story aside, I wanted to share some tips with you of how to help keep movement part of your routine and set the foundation for your kids! As I feel that this piece is worthy of more than one post, watch for more on this topic over the coming weeks! I’d love to hear any of your ideas and tips that you have found to be successful in raising active kids!
3 Tips for Family Fitness
1) Lead by example
By far the most important tip of the bunch. If your kids see that you prioritize exercise in your life, they are more apt to follow that model as well. A combination of your own scheduled time for workouts/walks/stretching as well as integrated family time is perfect. As always, the time for you is essential and setting boundaries with little ones (and big) around the importance of this is huge. If you have physical limitations do what you can, any movement or example you set around healthy habits will help!
2) Spend active time together
Plan family time, no matter what size family you have. Anth and I used to go for evening walks by the beach – we’d play rock and log jumping games to make it playful and fun. I will also admit to agreeing to going for an ice cream at DQ as long as we walked there. Playgrounds are also great for impromptu workouts – have you tried monkey bars as an adult? Not as easy as it used to be but perfect for playing and building strength.
3) Make it playful, fun and age appropriate
Taylor the activities you choose to do as a family to their ages but don’t be afraid to challenge them. Run races that have winners amongst yourselves (there’s nothing wrong with some healthy competition) or enter one of the charity events geared towards families. I played dive bomb birds with my son when he was little to pass the time while we walked to the grocery store, now we go lift together. Activities may change with their ages and interests encourage them (and yourself) to try new things. This will help develop their co-ordination and skillset as well as show them you’re willing to learn something new at any age too! Pitch and Putt? Curling? Why not?
Bonus: What to do when your kids don’t like sports?
I never had the hard rule around sports but movement was the non negotiable. If they don’t like organized sports (team) try individual ones, tennis, martial arts, swimming, or even yoga! Although I grew up enjoying sports I know that they aren’t for everyone for a number of reasons. Help your child find something they do enjoy (or don’t hate, cause sometimes parenting is like that)