To follow up from our last blog about should kids work out, we thought it would be a great idea to give parents some ideas on just how to work out with their children. For some parents of younger children, having your child workout alongside you might not yet be an option. It’s best to keep things safe, and a two or three-year old should most likely not be lifting weights or running on a treadmill. But what about the workouts that you need to get in? If we are all honest with ourselves, we can say that there are many days when going to the gym is just not on the schedule. Instead, why not workout at home? Even if your children are home with you, there are easy solutions to getting in some quick exercise, and even keeping your kids entertained at the same time.
Give Your Kids Something to Do
While you are working out, maybe to a video or your own body-weight based program, make sure to give your kids something to do. There are of course the typical options, like the TV, coloring books or games. But what about putting on a little music and working out to that, while your kids dance around you? Even though your kids might be too young to exercise, playing is just as good. So try and get them up and moving with you, and you’ll likely be thanking yourself later when they are tired at 7pm.
Interact with Your Kids While Working Out
To go along with giving your kids something to do, you can also just interact with them while you work out. Talk to them about the day, ask them questions about the TV show they are watching, or play a game with them while you work out (they can move game pieces for you if necessary). Making your kids a part of your workout will allow them to feel part of your day, and not in competition for your time.
Keep Your Workout Time Short
We’d all love to get in a 90 minute, cardio and strength based workout every time we train. But we also know that this is not always possible. Keep those long workouts for gym days when your spouse is watching the kids, and make your at home workouts short. Twenty to thirty minutes is probably best. You get in a good workout, and your kids don’t get bored.
Take Breaks if Needed
Even once you get your at home workouts perfectly timed and scheduled, things will pop up. It is much easier to get distracted while at home, but don’t let this stop you. If needed, take a quick break to attend to your child, or answer a phone call. Then get right back to it. Breaks are totally fine, just as long as they’re not used as an excuse to stop working out.
Now, some of you parents are reading this and thinking, “My child is old enough to work out WITH me” and to you I say, get to it! If your child is around 8 or older, it is likely that he or she is ready to start exercising with you. But keep in mind that you need to start off slow, and have fun!
Gear the Workout Toward Your Child’s Abilities
If you’ve been in a training program for a while, it’s likely that you already a have a set way of going about things. Specific exercises you do, and a set time to do them in. Throw all that out the door when working out with your kids. Read up before you start with them, and even take a few classes at your gym (many offer them). Pick specific exercises that mimic natural movements, as this is best for smaller developing bodies. Expect to spend a bit more time to show your kids how to do each exercise, and wait for them to complete sets.
Consider Your Child’s Age
If your child is a bit older, and has participated in sports, your progress when working out will likely be a bit quicker than starting with a younger child who has never exercised before. Also, an older kid will have more accurate motor abilities and coordination. This will help when working with weights, where it is important to be precise with each movement. If your child is a bit younger, start off with movements that only use the body for weight, and focus on coordination and perfecting movements first.
Think of Alternatives to Typical Exercise
It is great to get your child started in the gym. The habit can become a life-long one that keeps him or her healthy and less stressed. But keep in mind that most kids don’t actually want to “work out.” They want to have fun and spend time with you. Gym time is great, but alternate that with fun outdoor, or even indoor, activities. Run while your kids bike, or go for a hike. Take them canoeing or kayaking, or take lessons together, such as horseback riding or karate. Keeping things fresh is a great way to keep kids active, and also interested in staying in shape.
Whether you’ve got young ones or teens, there are many solutions to fitting in your workouts during the week. Make sure to still schedule time for yourself and hit the gym, or go for a long run alone. As much as we love to be with our kids, parents also need quiet time to decompress and de-stress. Spending these workouts with your kids will also make those alone times more enjoyable, and leave you feeling less guilty for taking a little time to yourself!