Updated: Jun 15
There are so many things taken for granted before you have kids. One of those is the ability to workout when you want, for as long as you want, and where you want. Once kids enter the picture, all fitness revolves around your kids.
Honestly, I wasn’t much of a fitness person before my daughter was in the picture. If you haven’t read my story, you should. I spent most of my time drinking, eating horrible, and never working out. Leaving the military left me with no need to hit the gym and no want to either and so I didn’t. Fast forward a few years and all of those bad habits started to catch up with me. My daughter changed my life in more than one way.
I started my fitness journey after my daughter was born because I wanted to raise her with a love of fitness. I didn’t want her to think that there needed to be a reason to workout but that you could simply live a healthy life. I have been working out with her since she was 6 weeks old and my doctor gave me the “Ok.” Over the years my workouts have changed and the way I approach them has changed and a lot of that has to do with which stage of life my daughter was in.
I find that the infant stage was the easiest time to workout because it was the easiest to work around her nap times and I did have to worry about her getting into things. I did a lot of at home workouts and kept it mostly bodyweight. I would get creative on ways to do workouts with her or simply workout during her naps. My whole reason for changing my life and getting healthier was to show my daughter what a healthy lifestyle was and for her to see how much fun fitness could be. It was important for me that she actually see me doing it. I also did a lot of walking in the beginning. I would load my daughter up in the stroller and take super long walks every day. More often than not, she would fall asleep and I would keep moving until she woke up.
Once naps started dropping out of her routine and she started crawling I really had to get creative. I increased the exercises that I could hold her or play “peek-a-boo” with her on. This included squats and lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, and so on. This is also where baby-wearing definitely came in handy. It was at this stage that I learned my daughter wouldn’t stay in the stroller forever so we switched to running to continue getting my distance in but in a shorter time frame. This is where I fell in love with running. I always loaded up with music, snacks, bottles, anything she could possibly need to keep her occupied while I ran. We had some great conversations during this time too.
My biggest tip with anyone starting a health and fitness journey or maybe trying to continue one during a global pandemic that is rendering us all homebound and trying to navigate our fitness with kids at home is keeping them busy. I always have snacks, drinks, games, toys, literally anything I can think of that might occupy my daughter long enough to let me get my workout done.
The older my daughter got the more I have had to change the way I went about my workouts. I have challenged her to competitions (they don’t last very long). I have turned my workouts into “classes” for her where I teach her the exercises and we do them together. I’ve had her program my workouts. She will run me through a warm-up, workout, and cooldown all while doing it with me. Now that she’s a little older, it’s become much easier to simply tell her it is my workout time. When I work out at home, she will play or do her gymnastics practice on her side of the gym. When she isn’t content playing by herself or during crappy weather I am not above giving her my phone for watching TV or playing games.
In addition to my home gym I also have a membership to a local CrossFit gym. A big deal for me when searching for a gym wasn’t just that I enjoyed the community but also that they have a place for kids. Mine has a nice area in the back where my daughter can hang out and play and I can see her the entire time we are there.
I guess I should say that I am pretty lucky that my daughter is pretty independent. As a military family, my daughter and I have spent quite a lot of time just the two of us so she has gotten quite used to my workouts.
Working out when you have kids is really all about finding a way to involve your kids especially when they are young. It’s one thing for your kid to see you spending time by yourself lifting weights or going for a run but it is a completely different thing to involve your kids in your fitness. You are not only creating a foundation for them to live a healthy life but also creating memories and moments that your child will never forget.