This year our son turned 13. He is officially a teenager AND seems to be more interested in friends and Fortnite than spending time with us. However, in our household, exercise, self-care, and eating well is just a way of life. Both my husband and I were athletes growing up, so from a young age, exercise and sports were simply in our DNA. Our son however, doesn’t have much interest in most sports, and up until recently, was NOT (and I mean NOT) competitive. In May, that all changed when he made the swim team. Oh yeah, proud mama moment. He has found his passion, swimming!! Nevertheless, all other sports, including basic exercise, he continues to struggle with. Not because he cannot do it, but because he has no interest in it. So….what’s a parent to do? We’ve tried incentives, we tried tough love, many techniques have been employed to get our son excited about taking care of his body. To our dismay, nothing seemed to stick except when we made fitness into a family affair. We’re all in it together!
Let’s get our sweat on!
I believe in the old adage “misery loves company” because for some reason, exercising with us yields very little complaints, but exercising by himself…you would think it was torture. So….family fitness it is.
Swimming was never my strong suit. In fact, it wasn’t until I trained for Ironman that I learned to swim properly. When my training concluded, I was a decent swimmer. Not fast, but my endurance was great (I guess it needs to be in order to swim miles at a time). However, whenever I would swim with my son, I would lap him, literally. He was slow and steady wins the race. But… this has ALL CHANGED! Swimming with my son is now a very humbling experience. His technique is fantastic and he’s fast! He lapped me several times, and was never winded or out of breath. Yep, he has officially schooled me. But, that’s ok because he’s found his passion and if it brings him joy to count how many times he lapped me in our swim session, then so be it!
Not swimming…then it’s running
Now, running is my thing and our son does not enjoy it one bit. That said, our four-legged training companion has helped to make our running escapades more enjoyable for our son. Instead of focusing on his breathing or his body aches or the distance, he’s focusing on keeping our Doberman mix “Ginger” in check. Little does he know that she’s in control and training him. Running with Ginger tethered to you isn’t easy. In fact, your pace usually speeds up by 30 seconds to a minute per mile, but for our son, he believes it’s easier (which it most certainly is not), but I’ll take it. With Ginger, his one mile pace improved AND so did his attitude.
When our son is not swimming, he is running with Ginger and us. We encourage him to run or jog. If he feels tired, we tell him to slow his pace but keep moving. He obliges and sometimes moans, but this technique has drastically improved his endurance in and out of the pool.
Cross training at the high school
Don’t worry about joining a gym; if you have a high school nearby with a track and bleachers, then you’re set. On weekends, we’ll head up to the school and do “bleachers” which consists of climbing the stairs, skipping every other stair. After doing that to fatigue, we do triceps dips, and push-ups. Our son finishes by running a 100-yard dash (this is his idea…not sure why, but I don’t discourage it).
I love being able to spend time with my son and husband and exercising together has really helped us grow closer as a family. It’s so fun to see my husband coach and mentor our son. The admiration our son has for him is sweet to see. He’s like a little “mini-me” from Austin Powers.
Since beginning this exercise routine, we’ve seen our son’s confidence grow and as a parent, all you want is for your children to be happy and healthy.
What do you do as a family to stay active? I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate into our routine.