When my kids were younger — ages three and a year-and-a-half — I’d sneak into my garage to exercise while they were outside playing in the front yard. My garage gym wasn’t fancy. I had some kettlebells, rings, and a climbing rope — enough to get the job done. I made this weekend workout routine a habit. Not once did I think that it would lead to my kids to take an interest in what I was doing, but before long I’d see them swinging on the rope attempting to mirror my rope climbs.
As a father, this experience reinforced something important: Showing my kids what to do was both more effective and impactful than simply telling them what to do without backing it up with action.
Over the years I have worked with many kids who at first weren’t very interested in exercise. The first thing I do is ask A) are they going to having fun, and B) will they feel safe. If the answer is no to either, something needs to change.
I apply the same philosophy at my gym. The first workout isn’t going to be very taxing or long. In fact, it’s over before the first-timer knows it. I don’t want the person — child or adult — to leave beaten up, exhausted, or feeling intimidated. It’s better for them to walk out of that first session feeling stronger and more confident than when they entered.
If you feel stuck in your efforts to get your child excited about exercise, try this: At home, perform one exercise in front of them and invite them to join you. Start with 10 burpees or 10 air squats. If they’re older and can handle it, string 10 burpees and 10 squats together. And if there’s more left in the tank, add a sprint up to the end of the driveway.
Trust me, a little effort goes a long way toward inspiring your child to want to exercise like a Spartan. Aroo!
Related Link: 10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables Already
3 Tips to Inspire Kids to Exercise
- Lead by example. What your child sees you do is just as important as what you say.
- Get the whole family involved. Start by performing one daily exercise in front of your kids: 10 squats or 10 burpees, or even running around the yard.
- Be supportive. If your child struggles to complete the activity, encourage him or her to keep going and assist if necessary. No quitting.