Do you enjoy working out as a parent?
We’re not sure when working out became an enjoyable activity that we missed, but somewhere in our journey into parenting, fitness became a priority + dare we say a FUN priority!
Talk about a 180° turn.
Prior to parenting, we had an ample amount of time to run a few miles, go to the gym for an hour or take that yoga class, but if we’re being honest: we would often either go kicking + screaming or just skip the workout altogether + go right to the chocolate cake in the fridge!
Now, with parenting + adulting, time is at a premium + “health as the first wealth” means even more to us now as parents than the idea did pre-children. There’s more at stake.
While our lazy default might now be to explain away working out due to a “lack of time”, we know that working out is just as important of an investment as our businesses — maybe even more so!
We need to be taking care of ourselves first before taking care of our families. There’s no point in building wealth if you’re not going to be well enough to enjoy the benefits with the people you love.
Here is what we found to be a great time-saving solution: using parenting as a fitness workout.
Today, we are sharing five ways that we use parenting as a workout each day + yes, HAVE FUN in the process.
With that, let’s dive into the list!
No. 1 — Using Dance Parties as a Family Fitness Workout
Dancing is a legitimate cardio activity.
Add in the spontaneous nature of kids + you have yourself a workout that will test not just your cardiovascular capacity, but your coordination as well.
We use dance parties often. They are highly effective in times where the kids are just ripping through the house + our patience level is starting to drop. Instead of going off the rails, we join in the fun.
We’ll throw on a Disney playlist or our favorite dance music from the college years + just start dancing. The kids eventually see we are having fun + jump on in, too.
And before we know it, 20-30 minutes have passed + we are all happily exhausted.
Workouts don’t need to be serious — they can be fun! And the dance party is a great example of that.
No. 2 — Incorporating Chores During Playtime With the Kids
Kevin doesn’t like doing chores. (Who does?!) He has passed on this feeling to our kids, especially when it comes to a particular chore: PICKING UP TOYS.
Our kids will avoid cleaning up their toys or pretty much anything at all costs. Their negotiation skills + the ability to redirect our attention is very impressive. We have actually taken notes on their strategy to use ourselves.
So, to make picking toys up interesting + fun for us, we hack getting the essential tidy done by disguising it as an activity the kids enjoy: the love to run + play pretend. Boom: problem solved!
Here is an example: Zootopia is a fan-favorite movie in our house. Our 4-year-old loves to re-enact the scene where Judy Hops (the Bunny Cop) chases the Weasel (Bad Guy) to get the Night Howlers (this plant he stole from the flower shop).
So, while Kevin is being chased around the house as the Weasel, he picks up the “mess” + pretends they are Night Howlers. The kids then have to get the Night Howlers from the Weasel + then put the Night Howlers into the correct spot to “turn them off”.
The workout portion of this is the running + dodging the kids. Kevin also mixes in some burpees or squats as he picks up the objects from the floor.
What’s great about this interactive cleanup is that playing pretend offers an endless game: as long as we stay in character, everyone keeps the clean-up going.
There will be 1-2 minutes of running, 1-2 minutes of “rest” as they put the objects away + then repeat that for a half hour or more.
This is high-intensity interval training (HIIT)— Parenting Style!
No. 3 — Walking as a Physical + Educational Bonding Activity
Kevin’s favorite activity to break up the day when the weather is nice is to get out for a simple walk around the neighborhood.
These neighborhood walks get everyone moving + reset our bodies with some fresh air.
Walks also are a great way to teach the kids a whole bunch of subjects: nature, social awareness + healthy habits to name a few.
In addition to the benefits of getting outside, walks are Kevin’s second planned workout for the day. To keep things interesting, he likes to add in “intervals”, which are exactly what they sound like.
To do intervals, you first have to pick a time frame (say 5 minutes) + set a timer.
For those 5 minutes, everyone is walking. With both kids under 4, Kevin picks an open field or a closed trail to eliminate the risk of cars.
The name of the game in those 5 minutes is to “go crazy”. Walk, run, jump, roll around. No rules.
When the timer goes off, that’s rest time. Kevin will have the kids jump back in the stroller or walk slowly for 5 minutes to recover. Then he repeats that for an entire walk around the area.
Now, the kids are usually tired after the second interval, so they will be in the stroller + the walk turns into a sled push!
The beauty of this, though, is that the kids don’t realize intervals are “exercise”. To them, this is straight play.
Kevin gets a great workout for 30-45 minutes + gets to have fun with the kids, increasing + strengthening that bond as the fun dad while checking off something for his personal fitness.
No. 4 —Using the Playground as Our Gym
We believe that the more play we can infuse in our kids’ lives over the forced “you have to do this in order to be healthy” vibe, the more approachable we’re making healthy living.
Play IS healthy. And it’s true that fitness doesn’t need to be complicated or so rigidly structured. Courtney, for one, loses a lot of her excitement around fitness when she’s trying to constantly assign more metrics + to-do’s to her already full list!
So, with play as the goal, we’ve found the playground to be the easiest place to connect + to use the events of parenting as a workout.
The equipment in the playground is literally called a “jungle gym”. And unlike that $400/month CrossFit membership, this one is FREE!
So this one is simple + short. Put the phone down, get off the bench + into the game – and go play.
Set up obstacle courses, do box jumps on the bench, throw in a pull-up, squats, burpees + mix them into the game of tag.
Be the fun parent that all of the kids run over to because you’re just that exciting!
Just let loose + have fun!
No. 5 — A 1-Minute Fitness Hack for Parents
Kevin’s most used strategy during the day is what he calls the “1-minute insert exercise”.
At the beginning of each day, Kevin picks an exercise — whichever first comes to mind. Let’s say he picks push-ups.
Kevin then sets a goal to have 100 push-ups done within the day. Throughout that day, he randomly starts doing push-ups for 1-minute until his goal of 100 push-ups is met.
The same strategy applies to yoga. Kevin picks a flow or holds a position for a minute + does them randomly throughout the day.
To make this exercise a game, he makes a sound or plays music when it is time to do the 1-minute exercise.
Kevin never initiates anything specific with our daughter on what he’s doing each day. But just by his example, when he plays music + starts doing squats, she knows it is squat time + she jumps in for the minute.
Kevin is not trying to win Mr. Olympia or win a gold medal. All he’s aiming for is to stay healthy + playful in the same spaces as our children + that’s inspired them to join in on healthier movement all on their own.
“The more play we can infuse in our kids’ lives, the more approachable we’re making healthy living.”
Our Definition of Fitness
All five of these fitness ideas are ways you could integrate workouts into parenting activities with your kids throughout the course of an ordinary day.
Essentially, by implementing these ideas, we’re removing the need to be “traditional” + spending 45-60 minutes doing individual workouts or with a dedicated group.
As parent entrepreneurs with full days, sometimes those longer opportunities are just not in the cards for that day. Spreading the traditional 45-60 minute workouts into shorter increments of time doing some physical activities with our children enables us to check 2 priority tasks — working out + bonding with our kids — off our list.
We’re also enjoying the added benefit of knowing this is influencing our children’s actions positively. They see physical activity + fitness as fun — because it genuinely is.
We get that opportunity to redefine what health + fitness means to us as parent entrepreneurs. It isn’t about benching 225, looking good in the summer swimsuit, or running 100 miles. It is about being healthy + happy so that we can be present where it matters most.
So, we would love to hear from you: have you considered using parenting as a fitness workout?
What other ideas do you have for bringing parenting + fitness together?
Share them in the comments below to continue the conversation with us + other parent entrepreneurs.