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Get fit with the family

Having a family may be time-consuming, but it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. We asked some fitness experts how to keep in shape

Sylvia Diaz is a fitness instructor, personal trainer and nutrition advisor. She runs a fitness and nutrition coaching service called Fit with Sylvia

It can be hard to keep up your normal exercise routine when you have children, but finding moments to move is entirely within your grasp. There are always ways to make time for fitness, the same way you make time to eat, brush your teeth or check your mobile phone messages.

Work out while you wait To find a creative solution to the ‘no time’ dilemma try to create a routine of working out at the same time as your child. For example, if you bring your child to play football, you might take your bike with you and ride around near the fields while they practise. Or instead of cramming in one more errand while your kids are at their activities, put on your trainers and take a walk.

Hit it hard When you’re short on time, the key is to stay focused and fit in a high intensity interval training session that you can do anywhere. If you have babies or young kids you can do your routine at home – grab a kettlebell and swing for a full body workout.

Rise and shine The day usually gets more demanding as it goes on, so exercising first thing in the morning will make sure you fit it in, even before waking up your children!

Bring the family If family obligations prevent you from fitting in regularly scheduled workouts, rope your gang into other types of group activities. Schedule hikes, soccer games, after-dinner walks, bike rides or trips to the gym. Let the kids suggest activity options. And remember that exercise is a routine that turns into a healthy habit to do with your family. When the kids see that exercise is important to you, it will be important to them, too.
Instagram @fit.with.sylvia

Darragh Trulock, Leisure Club Supervisor at Club Vitae Gym, Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley Exercising together as a family can be incredibly rewarding and fun! Sometimes the simplest solution is the best.

  • Walking has many benefits for the whole family, the baby in their stroller and even the dog to enjoy. You can add intensity by performing some lunges as you walk.
  • While playing in the park, why not add in some fun fitness-based games like chasing, hide and seek, skipping or just kicking a ball around.
  • Take the family for a swim at your local pool. You would be surprised how many calories you can burn just splashing about. It will also tire out the little ones.
  • Break out the bikes! It’s fun, scenic and gives a great workout.
  • If you have an upcoming special occasion, get the family together and get moving. Try something new like trampolining, hiking or some family games.

With time being so short in our busy lives, it’s great to be able to combine family time and fitness. So, take advantage of some of these ideas or come up with your own to keep your family healthy and interacting together. Remember the best childhood memories won’t be made in front of the TV or iPad. They will be made during times spent together.

Take on the challenge of fitness together and you’re sure to win!

Grainne O’Driscoll runs Grá For Fitness offering public, private and corporate Pilates, yoga and fitness classes.

Without a doubt trying to maintain an exercise routine when you have children is far from easy and quite understandably can fall to the bottom of the list of priorities.

For new mums it’s important to get sign off from your doctor before returning to exercise, but once you get the green light there are a number of options. First up and free, I would suggest brisk walking, there’s nothing like fresh air and pushing a buggy up a hill to get the heart rate up.

Mum and baby yoga or Pilates classes and buggy/mummy bootcamps are becoming increasingly popular. Not only are these classes a way to workout but also to meet mums who are in a similar situation i.e. being held hostage by a tiny person. The online Mutu System is an award-winning and medically recommended post-baby recovery program which you can follow in your own time in the comfort of your home.

For parents who are at work, lunchtime fitness can be the perfect solution to time-poor situations. Perhaps your company has a corporate fitness program, or maybe there’s a gym or pool nearby or just bring your runners to work and go for a walk or a run at lunchtime.

Walks, hikes, picnics, biking, roller-skating, scooting, tag, frisbee, horse-riding, adventure centres, trampolining, swimming, home disco and runs (including park runs and charity walks/races) are just some of the activities that families can enjoy together. Ever more classes including yoga and karate are becoming available for parents and children.

Anthea Brady, a paediatric nurse, experienced in the childhood obesity area, says “With children the emphasis should be on fun play as opposed to ‘getting fit’. Children naturally copy what they see their parents doing.” The message being, parents if you can lead by example and include exercise as an integral part of family activities, you are on the right track.

Alan Williams of Alan Williams Coaching

Keeping up an exercise routine can be difficult when you’ve got children but it’s not impossible. A variety of factors combine to make you feel like training can no longer be part of your life. You don’t have time, your energy levels are low, the children require most of your attention and by the time they get to sleep the gym is closed.

The perfect solution for many parents is HIIT workouts – High Intensity Interval Training. The beauty of these workouts is that they are short and sweet, if intense. You don’t require a gym membership, they can be performed anywhere. In fact you don’t even require any equipment. Your own body is the best piece of equipment you’ll ever own. You can put some amazing workouts together using exercises such as squats, sit-ups, burpees, lunges etc. By structuring the workouts and rest time correctly you can do an amazing workout in just 20 minutes.

Don’t worry if you’re at complete beginner level, you can adapt the workouts to suit yourself. Increase rest time or decrease repetitions. As you get stronger and fitter you can do more. HIIT sessions are an amazing option for the days that you can’t get out of the house, all you need is a small bit of space and some determination.

HIIT sessions can also be a great example for your children. I’ve often had clients send me pictures of them doing their workout and children in full flow doing burpees beside them. Our bodies love to move, even more so for children.

Getting children involved in movement and training from an early age sets them up for life.

Play childhood games with them such as tip the can. Try different sports in the back garden; football, basketball, tennis, rounders. They won’t all like the same things, but if you let them try several different activities they’ll usually find one they like.

Go on walks as a family. If you have a family dog, bring him along. Let the children throw a ball for the dog and have him bring it back. Where there’s fun, they’ll happily move. And where there’s movement we create healthy children.

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