Sarah Clachar of Fit Family Together is back with our series on family fitness. I think you’ll enjoy her philosophy on simplifying family fitness.
I remember vividly how time sped up with mommyhood. Two minute tasks ended up taking half an hour. Before I knew it the day was almost over. And it felt like nothing had gotten done.
In this parental time warp, my commitment to fitness started to falter. It seemed impossible to sneak it in.
However, my husband and I were determined to make sure this didn’t happen. So from the time my kids were tiny we made fitness a family thing.
Sometimes it meant combining yoga with blowing on my baby’s belly or using my children as wiggly free weights. As they got older we went through a series of bike attachments so we could hit the road together.
Ultimately, over the years we developed a whole host of ways to make family fitness work for us. But even more importantly, we discovered that fitness together as a family did more than keep us trim and energized. It helped us forge stronger family bonds and provided us with special parenting moments.
On Monday, I talked about how you can learn about fitness from your children. To build on this, here are 3 principles you can use to make family fitness part of your family AND make it simple and delightful for everyone.
The F.I.T. Family Together Approach
To make it easier to remember, I’ve turned these 3 simple principles into the acronym F.I.T.
“F” stands for “fun”
The easiest way to get kids (and adults!) to do something is make it fun. While I firmly believe that parenting is not all about enticement, it certainly helps at times.
Thankfully, many simple, traditional children’s games and activities get you moving and giggling.
Make an obstacle course. Play hopscotch.
Play follow the leader. Kids love to show you what to do. And legend has it a pro football player tried to keep up with a 2-year-old for a day. Guess who collapsed at naptime!
Here are a couple additional tips to help you break out of the No-Pain-No-Gain perspective on fitness . . .
- As long as you’re moving, it counts as fitness. You don’t need to be in a gym, or wearing running shoes. You just need to move. Tickle fights and ice skating count!
- Fun is mostly about attitude. Even chores can become delightful with the right approach. Try adding singing to the mix and you’ll be amazed at how far your children hike or how much yard work you get done.
“I” stands for “itsy bits” or “increments”
The best way to ruin a good thing is to go too far with it. Especially in the beginning.
Ease yourself into family fitness by adding small activities to your day. You’ll have more success getting everyone moving with a 10-minute dance jam before dinner than trying to fit in an hour-long family bike ride every day. And each success will fuel you for more fitness activities the next day.
Even as you start to take on bigger adventures – like a day hike – you’ll want to keep most fitness activities kiddie size.
In fact, more and more research shows that short intervals of intense workouts give you many more fitness benefits than a long jog slog. A game of tag with short sprints mixed with bits of rest can outpace a full hour at the gym.
“T” stands for “together”
When you emphasize the togetherness of family fitness, you create good feelings that makes everyone look forward to doing something again.
Find ways to strengthen the together feeling of family fitness. Take pictures and keep them in an album your kids can leaf through. Create a family journal.
Savor memories together mixed with giggles at the dinner table. Reflect seriously on some of the big challenges and accomplishments. There’s nothing like seeing your child swell with pride when you remember such a moment together.
And even bring your children into planning activities. Look at hiking guides together, have them help you pack the lunch or make the special iced tea.
The Importance Of Family Fitness
In the context of our incredibly busy lives . . . and the rising specter of health problems due to inactivity, family fitness is more than a nice idea.
It can literally be a lifesaver and a family saver.
More than anything, your children need time with you. And more than anything we all need to spend more time taking care of our health.
Why not put it together? As a mom who’s stayed fit using family fitness for 14 years plus, I can tell you – the benefits of this go way beyond a slim waist.
By using the three principles of F.I.T. you can fit family and fitness together. Simply.
Sarah Clachar is a mom, wife, professional health writer, organic farmer, avid mountain biker and hiker. She is also founder of FitFamilyTogether.com, where you can find tips, inspiration and strategies for making family fitness part of your family life. If you hop over there right now, you can sign up for her free 7-Day Fit Family Together Challenge and get your very own family fitness plan started.
I hope you’re enjoying this series on Family Fitness. We’re not done yet! Please, leave any questions or thoughts that you have for Sarah in the comments and she’ll be back on Friday to respond to them.