Kids are stress-inducing.
Unfortunately, they’re also time-consuming, which makes it difficult to alleviate your stress, and stay healthy, via the time-tested method of exercise. If you don’t have time, you probably aren’t going to bother shelling out for a gym membership you’ll rarely use. And good luck with trying to use that treadmill you bought during his nap; if there’s a louder piece of equipment this side of the drum-kit my in-laws bought my son, I haven’t come across it.
What’s a parent to do?!
Don’t fret; I have a solution! Like Rocky in Siberia (actually, it was filmed in Krasnogourbinsk, but come on), you have to work with what you’ve got. In this case, what you’ve got are kids.
Luckily, they’re even better than a Bowflex!
Below I’ve listed five different exercises that combine working out with raising your kids. There are plenty more, but these are the five I use most often. Give them a try and watch the stress, and the pounds, melt away!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped enjoying running as anything other than a necessary part of my exercise routine (actually, I stopped enjoying it when I turned about 12). When you involve your kids, suddenly it’s fun again. The great thing about running with a toddler is that it’s not just running anymore; it’s chasing, it’s laughing, it’s tackling, it’s flailing around. Suddenly the drudgery of running on a treadmill while staring at someone else’s flabby ass or dodging dog-mess while forcing yourself to jog around your neighborhood seems to disappear when you join a kid in their constant quest to keep moving. Hate running too much? Try dancing! My son loves it when we boogie together, and he never judges me for my terrible moves, unlike some people. I’m looking at you, Mom and Buried.
Sit on the floor with you legs extended out in front of you. Place your baby or toddler on your legs, around the knees. Extend your arms out and grab the child, then, keeping your arms straight, lay back until you head touches the floor, and continue rotating your arms backwards, suspending the child I over the floor behind you, so they’re upside down – you might want to place something there for them to grab, like a favorite stufty or their lovey. Then rotate your arms back, bringing the kid back onto your lap ,and sit up. Repeat. Just don’t drop your kid on his head. Moms hate that.
Stand and extend your arms out in front of you, palms up. Have your child lay across them, with his arms out, like – duh, – Superman. Then run around your home, carrying your kid, making sure to occasional bend your knees and alternately raise your arms up, all to help your child experience what it would be like to move up and down throughout the air if they were flying like Superman. It gets tiring, all the running and carrying, but that’s the point of exercise. And kids LOVE pretending to be Superman. It’s better than them pretending to be some psychopathic trust fund baby with daddy issues and a strangely intimate relationship with his butler. Right?
The Munch Press
Like I said, I don’t have any equipment. But while I could probably score a few dumbbells or a medicine ball easily enough, I definitely have no room for a bench or a barbell. That’s where my son comes in. Detective Munch happens to enjoy crawling on top of me, and he loves being lifted up in the air (I bet your kids do too), so it makes it particularly easy to get a few reps in under the guise of giving him a ride. Sure, he doesn’t weigh a ton (yet), but the fact that he’ll wiggle, and that you can even throw him up in the air and catch him mid-press, will help activate some muscles you might not use during a normal bench press. It’s especially fun when he drools in your mouth while suspended above you. It always reminds me of New York; the last time it happened was when some guy was spotting me at the Chelsea Y.
This is basically a deadlift, except the weights are twisting, you’ll need to do some grappling to keep a firm grip, there’ll be some kicking and flailing, and the barbell will probably be screaming directly in your face throughout. When it’s bedtime, position yourself over him or her, bend your knees but keep your legs stable, lean over and pick the kid up. As you carry him to his bedroom, all of the aforementioned distractions will likely occur, so burn extra calories by forcing yourself to stay calm and deposit your child in his crib or bed or cage or whatever suits you. Like the Munch Press, your kid may not be super-heavy, but the extracurricular portions of the exercise should help you get something out of it. Remember, not only will you increase your reps by repeating the exercise when you get your kid out of bed in the morning, you may be forced to do it several more times throughout the night, depending on how he hates you.
With the regimen I’ve outlined above, and a healthy diet!, all you need to do to lose some weight and stay in shape is be a good dad, which is a reward in itself. Burning calories and building muscle while doing it are mostly just gravy. Sure, being a good dad is its own reward, but shedding some pounds while you bond with your son is a nice perk, right?
Besides, isn’t there something funny about using the same kid that drives you to help you keep off the resulting beer gut?
Add your own Eye of the Toddler exercise suggestions in the comments!