Real Talk with Parents who Prioritize Fitness
  • January 10, 2016
  • Up before dawn. Tip-toeing through the house, brewing coffee as silently as possible. These are the moms and dads who work to fit in a workout. In my time as a trainer, I’ve learned that no one works harder than parents who prioritize fitness. They’ve got an hour – maximum – and they’re going to get every second out of it.

    From the moms and dads that work out with me, I’ve learned one important key: Making a fitness routine work for parents takes team work at home from either a partner or kids who help make it work.

    After seeing that team work in action, I asked a few of the parents who manage to balance a busy life, family and work with fitness what goes into making it work.

    Jen Ottoson, balancing a family, a business and a full-time job

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    When do you make time to work out and how do you make it work with your busy schedule?

    I run a boot camp which requires me to make it happen. Working full-time and running this boot camp, I can appreciate how hard it is to get up and make it happen. Much easier to sleep in, however, getting in the routine helps and without it, I couldn’t be a good mom or good at my job. Getting an early workout in is key to making it happen.

    How does fitting in a workout help you take on your day?

    My energy is better, my mind is clearer and I just feel great. I really cannot imagine tackling my job, my kids and everything else without it.

    Do you involve you kids in your workout?

    My kids know I leave early to workout and that it is a priority. It requires them to get themselves ready for school on their own. They see the commitment to it and how important it is to take care yourself. Leading by example, they naturally want to workout too. Both my kids will take it upon themselves to do their own workouts. It’s fun, they report back on how many push-ups they did, or share with me their workout combinations. I even shared some tabata ideas with my 13-year-old and she loves it.

    How do you explain or show why your health is a priority to your children?

    I incorporate living a healthy life in a lot of our conversations. It’s just natural for us. It comes up when we have to make choices on what to eat, if we’ve moved that day, how we are feeling. It all comes back to making good choices that either fuel our body, give it energy, make us stronger or not. I’ve taught them all along that their choices make a big difference in all areas of their life and they seem to now make those choices on their own. I also believe in a healthy balance of splurging and resting.

    When is it a challenge and how do you overcome that?

    I just recently started a full-time job in addition to the boot camp and it has greatly affected the number of days I get a workout in. I use to try to workout five to six days a week and I’m down to three. I need to remember what I tell others, that self care is incredibly important and that it is the fuel that we need to get through all that we need to. It’s a struggle to balance it all, but if we don’t, we suffer, and so do those around us.

    Gregg Rosen, dad who gets in his workouts with group fitness

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    (Photo by Carrianne Photography)

    When do you make time to work out and how do you make it work with your busy schedule?

    Gone are the days when I was spending a few hours at the gym. Having children it’s about maximizing the small window you have and still achieving your fitness goals. Enter group fitness. For the past three years I have been religiously training at Shred415, Crosstown Fitness and with Don Burgess of PPW Chicago.

    My biggest objective is to maximize what little time I can spend with my children in the mornings and evenings and am unwilling to sacrifice those precious moments. Fortunately, I have an employer who has an active culture ingrained within their DNA. This provides me the flexibility to take classes at various hours throughout the work day, but for the most part I train over the lunch hour.

    How does fitting in a workout help you take on your day?

    Working out is the ultimate personal investment. I have 60 minutes a day to focus on fitness, and selfishly, myself. Those 60 minutes have to count. Even on days with little to no sleep I know as soon as I enter the studio, it’s time to give my all. I am so grateful for amount of thought trainers put into their programming that I feel obligated to perform my best. The feeling of achievement post workout easily carries me through the rest of the day.

    asweatlife_Parents-who-prioritize-Fitness_Gregg

    Do you involve you kids in your workout?

    Not directly. Fitness and nutrition do play a large part on how we are raising our children. Our 3year-old son (Levi) is extremely active in yoga, gymnastics and swimming classes. Hadley, our 1-year-old, is as active as can be. She tries dearly to keep up and is quite the climber. Maybe a trip to Brooklyn Boulders is in the near future!

    How does working out positively impact your family?

    Greatly. My wife (Jenn) is also extremely active. She is a certified running coach and former Division 1 athlete. We share the same beliefs in raising our children in an environment where fitness is a priority in the hopes they are the exception to being caught in the “entertain me” generation, which is completely reliant on technology related devises and views activity as an interruption and inconvenience.

    How do you explain or show why your health is a priority to your children?

    Definitely by example. It’s actually funny to see how their minds process things. A few weeks ago, Levi’s pre-school teacher asked him what he needs to do to grow up big and strong. He responded with “I need to drink lots of water and eat lots of blueberries.” I think we’re off to a good start!

    When is it a challenge and how do you overcome that?

    On the days where “life” happens and workouts are missed. When your game plan for the week was to have five training sessions and for any number of reasons that number is greatly reduced. That’s when I rely heavily on disciplined healthy eating. I have been blessed to have people like Jessica Franco and Jennifer Becker coach and guide me on healthy lifestyle eating. I value and apply their insights on a daily basis.

    Angelica Colantuoni finds “me time” in her workouts

    When do you make time to work out and how do you make it work with your busy schedule?

    I have to have a set schedule every week otherwise I will find any excuse to not workout. I aim for at least two times a week. While everyone tells you that you won’t sleep when you have a baby, no one talks about the fact that even when they are older, you are still incredibly sleep-deprived. If I don’t have a set schedule, then sleep will always prevail. A set schedule also makes it easier to have your partner at home or babysitter be set to take care of the kids every week.

    How does fitting in a workout help you take on your day?

    Having kids made me feel like it’s impossible to be productive. Ever. There’s always something to do. Something to clean. Something to pay attention to, which puts everything else on the back burner. Getting in a workout is one of the times I feel so productive and I can feel good taking on the day. If I get to nothing else today, at least I got a workout in.

    Do you involve you kids in your workout?

    I typically never involve my kids in my workout. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate and my workout is the only real “me” time I get. It’s healthy to get some time away from the kids.

    How does working out positively impact your family?

    Let’s be real. Working out clears my head and relaxes me. And that’s good for everyone in my family.

    How do you explain or show why your health is a priority to your children?

    My kids already know that when I have my workout clothes that means I’m going to the gym. “Are you going to class, mama?” They see it as important as going to work every day. They also love to play with my boxing gloves. They are still young, but know it’s a huge part of my life. In fact, I did take them to one of my sparring sessions and they thought it was the best thing ever.

    When is it a challenge and how do you overcome that?

    Honestly, it’s always a challenge. If it’s not because of schedules, it’s because of the lack of energy. Between working full-time, teaching classes, taking care of a 2- and 3-year-old, my main challenge is finding motivation and not wanting to sleep instead. The only thing that gets me through is that I know I’ll feel better after I do it. I also know that I’m a better mother because of it.

     

     

    Know an active parent? Give them a break, a fist bump, a meeting-free lunch hour or whatever else they need. 

    About Jeana Anderson Cohen

    Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of aSweatLife.com a destination for living your best life, with fitness as the catalyst. She's also the co-founder and head of strategy of the SweatWorking App. But before starting health-focused companies Jeana earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For the first decade of her career, she created and executed social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience and her passion for wellness and SweatWorking was the natural evolution of that experience. You can find Jeana leading the team at aSweatLife, hosting aSweatLife’s monthly #Sweatworking events, and - on the rare evening off - you may find her using her Personal Training certification to coach group fitness classes across Chicago.

    2 thoughts on “Real Talk with Parents who Prioritize Fitness

    1. Katie @ Live Half Full

      Thanks for sharing this! I’m going back to work in a few weeks and fitting in my workouts is one of my biggest concerns!

      1. jeanaanderson

        Congrats, Katie!! I can’t wait to hear all about it. You’ll do great! And when the going gets tough, cut yourself some slack 😉

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