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The question: I really want to get to the gym to work out, but I am finding it hard with my new family. Any tips?

The answer: My advice is to redefine what working out means.

Too many of us adopt the mindset that a real workout means going to the gym or on a long run. This mentality just sets us up for failure. Sure, when you can get to the gym, go, but think of the trip as an added fitness bonus, not your primary goal. Daily trips to the gym are not realistic for most new parents.

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Instead, set yourself an achievable goal of daily movement. Think of your daily life as your gym, and weave activity into it.

  • 1. Use a pedometer to track your steps. Aim to take 10,000 steps per day. For example, run around the park with your kids, or walk to the store instead of driving.
  • 2. Set up a simple home gym. My favourite pieces are the foam roller, stability ball and free weights. Train beside your kids as they play.
  • 3. Go for runs while your child is sleeping and your other half can be on baby duty. Try intervals as they allow for a great workout in a short amount of time. After a five-minute warm-up, alternate 15 seconds of hard work with 45 seconds of recovery for 10 sets. Then cool down for five minutes.
  • 4. Get a running stroller.
  • 5. Sign up for “stroller fit” or another kid-friendly group exercise class.
  • 6. Build family outings around being active, instead of simply watching a movie or going to dinner.
  • 7. When your child gets older, sign them up for a sports activity like swimming. Then, go for a jog instead of sitting and working during the game or lesson.
  • 8. Jog as they bike beside you.
  • 9. Walk them to school. Run home.
  • 10. Practice your child’s sport with them. Get them to show you the latest skill they’ve learned. For you, learning a new thing will train your body and your brain!

Trainer's tip: I know my mom would say that her early years with me went by way too quickly. Try to stay active and be mindful of your health, but don't get too hung up on your fitness. Enjoy this brief time when your children are young. If possible, savour the moments.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is kathleentrotter.com.

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