Before I had children, I’d spend my time working out in the gym. While the gym provided all of the latest exercise equipment, it felt sterile and cold. I’d do some stretches, lift some weights, and run a few miles on the treadmill, but I felt as if I was simply going through the motions. My workouts were boring and predictable and going to the gym became drudgery.
Things changed after I had kids. I no longer had time to go to the gym every day and I had to cancel my membership. Although I was a bit disappointed, I soon discovered that I could get a good workout at home and have fun with my children at the same time.
After my daughter was born, I developed a baby weight exercise routine. I’d start by lying on the floor and holding my daughter with my arms extended. I’d then lower her to my face and kiss her on the forehead. She’d squeal, laugh and motion for me to keep doing it. I’d continue until my arms were too tired to lift her anymore.
Instead of pushing her around in a stroller, I schlepped her around in the baby carrier. Doing this helped to develop my arm strength and grip.
My routine also included “Superbaby.” I’d hold my daughter above my head and run through the house. She loved the feeling of flying and we had many great adventures together.
Although she is too big to fly over my head now (she’s 12), my daughter still enjoys a periodic “Daddy Back” ride. She jumps on my back and I run through the house just as I did when she was a toddler.
While my daughter helped to keep me strong, my sons helped me to increase my aerobic stamina. They’ve always been active and I had to become more active just to keep up with them. We’d have crawl races when they were younger and I spent countless hours chasing them through the house after they learned how to walk.
They love to run and play tag in the backyard. I’ve discovered that a 30-minute game of tag beats a treadmill any day. In addition, I play basketball with them in the driveway, ride bikes around the neighborhood, and wrestle with them in the living room (not approved by my wife).
The boys also help me with my exercise routine. They sit on my back when I’m doing pushups. The extra weight increases the difficulty of the exercise and my sons like to see how many I can do (for the record: I can do 25 pushups with the 10 year old on my back and about 35 with the 6 year old on my back).
The most fulfilling part of my exercising with my children is that they’re learning the importance of physical fitness at a young age. Our time together seems more like play than exercise and that’s exactly how it should be.