What Happens When Fitness is a Family Affair
  • March 7, 2018
  • As I was nestled in a bed next to my grandma, about the time the Hawaiian sun was rising, I heard the door open to the hotel room. I opened one eye in time to see my dad head outside with his running shoes on. While I was jet lagging from the other side of the world, having met my family in Maui from China, I still could not stay in bed much longer or let my dad be the only Baci to feel fit before hitting the pool.

    Since my sisters and I were young, my dad has been a model for staying fit. I remember riding my bike alongside of him when he ran. When he’d come home from work, we’d head outside and he’d throw the ball for me as I practiced my softball swing (suffice it to say I had a short career in that sport).

    I had a longer career in track, though, running the 800 into my sophomore year of college. My sister Lindsay and I ran on the same 4 x 800 meter relay team, taking home a first place win and setting a state record my senior year of high school.

    For decades now, fitness has been a family affair as we sweat together in yoga classes, on runs or in my sister’s basement home gym. While I do not have my own children yet, I admire the way my sister Lindsay and her husband Jon have made my nieces a part of the fitness routines in their house, in keeping with the family tradition that my parents started.

    family fitness

    If your wheels are starting to spin about how to find fun in fitness together in your family too, take a peak at CNN’s article entitled, “Family exercise that strengthens bodies and bonds.” It is an excellent guide on to how to create a warm-up and workout that meets the needs and bodies of the young and older generation. As the article notes, workouts with family can prevent your members from becoming a statistic in the rising obesity rates, and also help to prevent mental health issues from rising as children develop into teens.

    One of the first mornings in Maui, I rolled out of bed hoping to connect with Lindsay for one of our SweatWorking app challenge workouts (#BreakSweatNotGoals will keep you honest on vacation!) Lindsay was busy momming, but one of my nieces was up for a HIIT workout with her auntie. Giatta is seven years old, regularly works out with my sister and brother-in-law and rocked a 40-minute sweat session with me. She is so well-versed in the routine that she kindly reminded me that we should have gotten our water ready before pushing play on the video.

    family fitness

    As our week in Hawaii passed, we filled it with a lot of good food and a number of morning mimosas, for sure. But we also continued to move our bodies a good deal, swimming in the pool with the littles, walking down the beach, scuba diving (although a non-traditional exercise, it burns quite a bit of calories) and completing more SweatWorking app workouts, even when we pushed play on different videos at the same time.

    Strength runs in our family, and while I like to brag about my Baci genes sometimes, the physical strength we maintain is by choice more than the luck of nature. My great grandpa Ted was doing push-ups into his 80s (perhaps I got my affinity for them from him) and my grandma, nearing 80, continues to go to her local Anytime Fitness to walk on the treadmill or do the elliptical so that she can still keep up with my nieces.

    family fitness

    I love eating a big dinner followed by dessert with my Italian family and I savored those morning cocktails by the pool with my gram, but one of my most treasured memories from the trip was walking down the beach with my parents and my grandma, enjoying the waves crashing into us. It was not an intense physical activity – but fitness does not always have to be. Walking together in the soft sand, as the Hawaiian sun shone down, was good for our bodies and for our souls.

    As fitness is a family tradition, we stay in good health, affording us the opportunity to travel great distances to close the gap of miles that separates us much of the year.

    What fitness tradition might you start with your family, to keep your hearts and homes healthy?

    About Jamie Bacigalupo

    Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.