Having a child can throw even the most diligent fitness fanatic off her game. If the sleepless nights and turtle-paced days don’t sap your energy, trying to land a babysitter so you can squeeze in a workout might.
The good news? Staying active doesn’t mean having to secure someone to watch your little cherub(s) while you sweat. In fact, says Andrea Page, Toronto-based founder of FITMOM, by incorporating bouts of exercise into your normally sedentary everyday activities, you’ll not only blast calories, you’ll help lay the foundation for a love of fitness in your child.
“Exercise for those who have always done it is not a chore — it’s a lifestyle,” Andrea says. “You can create that lifestyle at any age, but to have it internalized in the early years is truly a gift.”
Here’s how to incorporate workouts into your life, even when little voices beckon you elsewhere.
Do a Playground Workout
If you’re going to the playground anyway, why not make the most of your time in the sand? Start by doing a few walking or jogging laps around the perimeter — chase your little one if they’re able to walk or run on their own — to warm up, then look for opportunities to tone up while your child is busy on the equipment or snoozing in the stroller. Make your rounds with two sets of 10 of the following: push-ups on the platform, pull-ups on the monkey bars, tricep dips on the park bench and walking lunges around the play centre. Incorporate a minute of on-the-spot running between activities, or bring a jump rope along to really amp up your heart rate between sets.
Sign Up for a Parent and Child Class
While not every yoga or aerobics class is conducive to the presence of a hyper toddler, many gyms and community centres offer a) sessions that allow little ones to either join (or sit) in on their parents’ class, or b) programs that keep them busy while Mom does her own thing. Check local fitness centres for their offerings, or if all else fails, consider approaching an established instructor to start your own yoga, aerobics, dance or karate parent-and-child class.
Organize a Strollercize Group
There’s no doubt that joining a strollercize group lead by a professional is your best fitness bet — they’ll work you out harder than a friend ever could. However, if you’re new to jogging and want to build your endurance before signing up for a legitimate class, enlist some buddies with kids for weekly stroller runs. It’s a great way to burn calories and ease yourself back into shape.
Rethink the Home Gym
Having kids can completely change the way you look at at-home workouts; they can also present a challenge in getting workouts completed. “Initially it’s going to be fascinating for your child to see you using the treadmill or bike or whatever equipment you have at home. Once they grow accustomed to seeing you active, though, they’ll be less captivated and let you do your thing,” says Andrea. For best results, make a habit of working out in front of kids as early and as often as you can. Set up a big play area next to the fitness equipment to keep them distracted, and play loud, dancing music while you sweat for extra kid-pleasing insurance.
Practise Tag-Team Parenting
We get it: Sometimes you want to run, hit the gym or do a class on your own. For moments like this, either employ the ‘tag-team parenting’ tactic, where one parent stays on kid patrol while the other is free to break a sweat, says Andrea, or consider joining a gym with on-site childcare. Another option? Mom’s sports leagues. Team options abound — soccer, dodgeball and hockey are just a few — and kids will love cheerleading Mom on from the sidelines. Win-win!
Originally published in January 2014.