“Do you train kids?”
This is one of the most common questions I hear as a personal trainer.
I get it. Not every kid makes the school sports teams. Not every kid has a safe setting to just be outside playing with others. Not every kid can just jump on a bike and ride around for the fun of it. Not every kid even cares.
Between school demands and social media and all the many things that mentally engage kids these days, it is easy for pre-teens and teens alike to spend day after day, sitting, with little or no physical activity. Parents complain that schools are cutting PE hours, and that sports teams are too exclusive and rigged for only the best of the best players.
But – I think it is fair to ask parents to hold a mirror up and ask – “What are you doing to help your child develop fitness as a way of life?”
Facebook reminded me of one reason I tried so hard to stay fit while my kids were young. Believe me – it wasn’t always (ever!) easy, but I was committed to making sure they could at least see that I was willing to work for…even struggle for my health and fitness. Parenting is no different for personal trainers and fitness freaks. Our kids are also drawn to the sedentary temptations of our digital age. We all are! We have to struggle to help our kids find the balance of physical activity and sedentary activities – but the struggle has been worth it.
I had forgotten about it until Facebook just popped up a little video memory I posted 6 years ago this morning. Here I am with my daughter, running our first 10k together – promising each other not to stop or walk – rewarding ourselves with a foot massage if we did it.
And we did it!
Check out our video.
You don’t have to be super fit. You just have to be willing. Train with your child for a 5k race. Sign up for it and train for it. Reward yourselves with a special treat, like a fitbit, or massage, tickets to a play, or new running shoes. You both will benefit from the exercise, and the deepening of your relationship as you learn to struggle together for the benefit of each other.
I will train your kids…
…but you have to have sessions too. If kids are given personal training sessions to develop fitness in place of having an active childhood, they are training in isolation of the big picture of life. When they stop going to personal training sessions, their muscles will atrophy as their interest wanes and fitness won’t seem like a worthy pursuit. But if the training sessions are leading to an outcome, like family weight control, family finish lines, an awesome, active family vacation etc…they can sink their hearts into it, not because they are expected to, but because they want to.
I barely remember that run with my daughter…but I remember the foot massage like it was yesterday. Struggle is the stuff of bonding.