Workouts used to be something that happened outside of daily or family life – that one hour at the gym alone or the jog after the kids when to school. Many parents with fitness goals, or who rely on physical activity for stress relief, are struggling to care for themselves well in our current situation where there is a lot less “me time” and a whole lot of “we time.”
We want to equip parents and families to pursue self-care, for physical and mental wellness, in new ways. Joel and I regularly workout with our kids (9 & 7 years old). It is our usual routine to pause the day mid-morning to complete a workout that – with various modifications – is appropriate for all four of us. In the evening we typically get outside to walk or bike, shake of the day, and enjoy nature (which studies have proven to have plenty of benefits for mental and emotional well-being for all ages).
We can attest, getting in a good workout with your kids around is not only possible, it can become a really awesome part of your day and something you all look forward to.
Tips for working out alongside your kids (and actually getting a workout in yourself)
- Prior Proper Planning
Review the movements with them as a warm up, decide who is using what, and set up everyone’s space. Maybe you are pressing a barbell or a dumbbell. Kids love to feel strong, too! Let them grab a can or two from the pantry, some water bottles, or even a pillow. Give everyone their own workout space to avoid colliding equipment, accidental injuries, and sibling spats.
- Write It Up
Write the workout out, preferably on a whiteboard or big sheet where it is easily visible. You can’t remember every rep and movement – neither can they. For big kids, keep the words simple so they can read along. Consider some stick figures for little ones. Review the movements one more time and have them repeat (“burpees, run, squat, run!”).
- Pacing Over Rep Counting
Our 9 year old is a rule-follower and a very reliable counter. Sometimes for big sets we give him props to help with counting (move a stone every 10 reps until all 5 stones are moved). Our younger guy…not so much. Usually he paces with a parent, meaning he does the same move for the same time, no matter how many he does. This saves him getting confused and getting accused of lying by his big brother *cue eye roll over how many fights this has caused*.
- Model, Model, Model
Once you hit go, don’t try to coach them. If a kiddo is pacing with you, announce each movement as you switch to it and then just go. If an older one who is working alone forgets what to do next, the cue is, “Watch me.” If you keep stopping to tell them what to do next, you will get frustrated and miss out on the benefits of exercise for yourself. Just keep going and keep modeling the effort and attitude you want from them. Kids are so, so smart. Once they go through this pattern with you a few times, they will catch on and everyone will benefit.
- What if they cry/become difficult/refuse?
If they are hurt, obviously pause the clock, check on them, show compassion, and then see if you can keep going as a team. If one child is simply being difficult, compliment the one doing things well until you are out of breath. (“Aedan, I love how you are taking your time and getting all the way to the ground.” “Clark, those presses are strong! Keep locking your arms out overhead.”). Often, the one one struggling with their attitude will catch on and jump in. Flat out refusal? Ignore. You are home, they aren’t going anywhere and you can probably still see them. Here’s my #1 tip from too much experience: don’t stop your workout to yell or lecture. You will be mad, they will dig their heels in, you will absolutely reap no benefits from the exercise. Finish your workout with the compliant ones and try again another day.
Workouts that go well with kids alongside (tried and tested)
- Head Shoulders Knees & Toes
As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes
5 pike push ups
10 shoulder press with household object(s)
15 air squats (air = unweighted)
1 lap of the house jog (or 100m/1:00)
- Superman & Friends
200m jog (run like Flash)
20 mountain climbers (climb like Spiderman)
20 sit ups (abs like Batman)
- Deck of Cards
Use a traditional deck (no jokers) or download a free app.
Face cards = 10 reps, Number cards = follow exactly
Choose four exercises, one for each card type, a below, or any combination you choose:
Diamonds: jumping air squats
Spades: stair step ups
Clubs: pike push ups
Flip a card and do the corresponding exercise and number of repetitions. Work until the entire deck has been flipped.
Or if workouts aren’t your thing, consider physically active family time
- Go for a walk
- Hike in a new area
- Bike ride
- Roller blade/skate
There are so many ideas for staying active and relieving stress as a family! It takes time, patience, modeling, and a determination to take care of your own fitness and the health of those you love, but IT WORKS. You can have your kids and fitness too, mums and dads.
So next time you are tempted to think, “I’ll never find time for that until the kids go to bed, and then I’ll probably be too tired!” change that mindset to “Let’s make this a part of our day so we all get the benefits.”
We love seeing photos of our members staying active with their families. Book a free intro call with us to learn more about Custom Online Workouts and how they can give you, and you’re family, a framework for getting healthy and fit from home.