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On Family Fitness

As a personal trainer and a mother, family fitness is important to me on many levels. Firstly, it is a necessity in my attempts to stay active while juggling my family, my work and other obligations. For my children I am proud to be a healthy model of fitness and nutrition. With my dog it is time economics and quality of life, enjoying each others company. Being active together has great social advantages for my family, and it also has its own challenges.

Pacing:

Whether you are running with your dog, your child, a friend or a client, you must adjust your pace accordingly to accommodate your company's fitness level.My 11 year old dog likes a 7:30/km while I run a comfortable 5:30/km- we compromise somewhere in the middle. I also have to make time for sniffing and peeing as required. Further to that, he can't run much more than 5K comfortably anymore and that impacts my distances. We compromise and I often add walking distance to our 5K. He motivates me to add a nice long cool down; I try to use the challenges as opportunities to diversify my workouts.

With kids there are actual pace differences as well as the numerous interruptions to pick flowers, play on the monkey bars, feed the ducks, etc.

As a coach it is your job to support and encourage your team, whatever kind of team it is. Be prepared for the context of the workout. Do not attempt your race pace run with your kids, or your 20K run with your old dog. Plan! Do 5Km, drop the dog home, then finish the 20Km. Keep your family fitness goals realistic to avoid frustration.

Map It Out!

Know where you are going! My 7 year old enjoys using google maps to scope out new playgrounds in the area. We can locate our destination and plan our route measuring distance. Having a mapped out course will (hopefully) prevent getting lost or turned around- with a kid on a bike and another in a stroller, a few kms off course could become an issue. Get the kids involved- let them help to choose your destination on the map- it's a great opportunity to discuss topics such as direction and map legends.


Be prepared

Set yourself up for success! Pack healthy snacks, water, juice boxes, sunscreen, bathing suit, towel, extra clothing, and anything else that you can carry to make your journey more comfortable (especially with kids- avoid meltdowns!) Running with a stroller is an easy way to pack a picnic and all the supplies you will need! You can have school kids wear backpacks to help and pack their bike baskets full.


Stick to the Plan

If you have a nice 4K route mapped out- to and from a playground, for example- stick to it! Don't get overly excited and run another 2Km to the next playground/splashpad for bonus playtime. Getting your family home that return 5K may be harder than you think! Use the extra energy to stretch in the park or get some lunges and squats in!

Flexibility and Team Management


If you have planned your activity and things go awry, go with it! If it rains 10 minutes out the door find a pit stop like a library or gazebo and have an impromptu play. If it's too hot for the run/walk you have planned, detour to the splashpad instead or find some sprinklers to run through en route.  The most important thing is just getting out the door!



Just do it! 

It certainly will take extra effort to plan your workouts as family adventures but it is worth the effort! I keep my stroller packed with the essentials to make packing up a bit quicker/easier. Enlist the help of older kids in getting ready- make it a family affair. 



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