I had the opportunity to hear Kara Thom and Laurie Kocanda speak at a recent fitness conference about their new book Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.
Though the book targets moms, its principles can be helpful for dads as
well. After hearing them speak, I reached out to Kara and asked if
she'd be willing to write a feature article for our newsletter and
website. I thought it would be great to get a sneak peek at some of the
ideas in the book for those pursuing a healthier way of life. To my
pleasant surprise, Kara wrote three articles. This is the first one,
with the others coming in the coming weeks. I hope you find the articles
helpful, and strongly recommend the book as well. Enjoy!
Tom Nikkola - Director of Nutrition & Weight Management
I became a mom, I was intent on including fitness in my life. As soon
as I could, I started using the Life Time Fitness Child Center. I would
work out at home while my twins napped. My husband and I would trade off
early mornings to work out and take turns getting in weekend workouts,
so we could each get our "me time."
Despite good intentions and
best efforts, my workouts didn't always happen. A sick child would keep
me out of the gym, the baby monitor would go off 10 minutes into the
exercise DVD, or after being awake all night with sleepless kids, I just
couldn't respond to a 5:00 a.m. alarm.
I had to make workouts
happen with two, and quickly thereafter three then four, small children
in my care. I did; it wasn't always easy, and there were times when it
was downright comical (or so it was for my neighbors one snowy day, when
I ran around with a sled attached to my waist pulling three daughters
along for a ride).
And then I started to notice something.
Fitness concepts, exercises and racing began to weave its way into my
children's creative play. My daughters would "go to the gym" when
playing house, "do yoga" in their bedroom, or compete in a triathlon-a
bike / hula hoop / run event-in the cul-de-sac.
That's when it hit me: How could my workouts be "me time," if what I was doing was making a positive impact on my children?
don't want my kids to grow up thinking they will be forced to exercise
later - that it's something grown ups "have" to do. For many adults, the
process of starting an exercise program can seem monumental. Isn't
starting anything always the hardest part? And often, adults don't start
exercising for the love of fitness, but because of health concerns or
to lose excess weight. But if a child grows up with fitness as an
integral part of his or her life, there's no need to start. As parents,
we can remove what is most difficult about being fit: getting started.
when my daughters were very young, I realized I no longer wanted to
exclude them from my fitness routine, and that my fitness philosophy
needed to be included in my parenting. For fitness to be a family value
in our home, I had to make it part of their world, too.
In the book, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom
(Andrews McMeel 2011) an entire secret is devoted to mentoring. If
you're a parent, whether you're aware of it or not, you are your
children's "fitness mentor." When parents exercise, their children are
more likely to grow up to be active adults. I think we can also raise
those odds when we exercise together. Sure, I still find time to
exercise on my own, but I also seek out ways for my kids to join me when
To that extent, I've become a firm believer in the
family fitness triad: Being a fitness mentor to my children through my
own workouts, helping my children discover their own fitness passions
and finding time to be active together.
Want to include kids in your workouts? Here are five ideas for family fitness:
Is your child or children taking lessons? Sign yourself up, too.
Whether it's swimming, rock climbing, martial arts, or tennis, learning
or perfecting the same skills that your child is working on gives you a
common fitness goal-great for conversation at the dinner table.
Do you work out with a personal trainer? If you have teens or tweens,
schedule a group session together every once in awhile. Request a
workout you can repeat together at home or at the gym.
there an upcoming event you can train together for as a family? If your
children are too young to compete, include them in the training process
by telling them about your event and your preparation. Simulate an event
for them at home or in the park.
4) If you have kids who play
in the Life Time Child Center while you work out, take advantage of
programs like Kids Play, which is a great introduction to "group
fitness" for kids. Also, after your workout is over, take 10 or 15
minutes to shoot baskets or engage in a different kind of active play in
the kids' area before you leave.
5) Share your favorite workout
with your kids. They probably know how much you love Zumba or Boot Camp
(or fill in the blank with your favorite activity). Create a pint-sized
workout for them, so they can see what it you do when you work out and
why you like it so much. The ulterior motive, of course, is that they'll
grow up to be your favorite workout partner.Kara Douglass Thom is a triathlete, freelance writer and mother of four. She and Laurie Kocanda are the co-authors of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom. Her blog, Mama Sweat, chronicles her pursuit to find fitness in the chaos of motherhood.This
article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor
as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical
advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the
choice and risk of the reader.