I grew up with a stay-at-home dad (he was an athlete); even when he retired and got a “real” job he was still very involved in sport. He didn’t like sitting on the sidelines, and this ended up getting us involved in sports that we could do together. I remember going running (just around the block when I was little), riding, sailing, surfing before school, martial arts, and more, right beside my dad. It resulted in a healthy teenage relationship with him, and now I have my sights on creating a bonding opportunity for parents and their kids in our gym.
There is also a decline in activity in teenage girls in Australia**. This is alarming because girls are also especially vulnerable to a lack of self esteem and dangerous eating disorders***. As a society, we have to do something to turn the tide, and at IntoYou we are doing our bit by providing a private, personal, and unstructured space in which to exercise. The lack of structure is important, as they are scheduled from morning to night in most other facets of their lives (school and extracurricular activities). It is also important that they do not feel judged, so the emphasis is on the quality of the workout – they always win if they come. That is the beauty of training in this format, no-one wins or loses, there’s no right or wrong; there’s just the session and how it made you feel.
We actively encourage our mums to bring their kids with them to their session; not only does it provide a great example, but the kids enjoy it as something that they do together. Even my kids, who live next door, still enjoy going down each day. In my experience, women in particular tend to sit back and watch an activity, rather than getting into it. Fortunately for me, with the example that my dad set, I am still champing at the bit to get active with my kids!
There was a study on whether or not there was a greater adherence to exercise when people trained in a community group setting or at home in a mother-daughter pair*. Interestingly, adherence was about the same, but it does reinforce my opinion that your kids will do what you do, not what you say. If mum exercises, their daughter probably will too, especially if it is a positive, mutually beneficial modality. We also see good aherence with our clients when they train with a friend or in our small-group IntoMum setting. If exercising with a stranger can make you friends, then how powerful could training with your kids be?
Furthermore, with our “all inclusive” attitude, we have seen mums join in on our IntoGIRLS sessions! IntoGIRLS does a lot of games, so we invariably end up laughing and draped all over each other, which is a fantastic way to connect with your siblings, mother, or daughter. All our trainers have a Working With Children Check, and their Youth Training qualification, so we can accommodate your whole family!
If you’re looking to start your daughter in an exercise program, you could ask yourself if you would also benefit from some extra exercise, and find something that suits you both! This article from Women’s Fitness Mag has some great tips on incorporating exercise in your life and relationship for every stage of a child’s development.
I hope that I have convinced you that training with your kids in tow is a good idea, particularly for women and their daughters, but also for any parent and their child. It is a unique opportunity to feel good about yourselves without failing at the activity (I remember getting dumped did spoil surfing for me as a teenager) or losing the game. Training in a gym environment is all about the “here and now”, and a “good workout” is just something that made you feel good – there is not always a number or a target. This can be beneficial from a psychological standpoint, as there is no pressure, deadline, or benchmark, except the ones you set yourself.
If your daughter is inactive, I would highly recommend including her in your activities,however old she is! If she is exercising and you are not, how can you include yourself in her activities?
We’d love to read your story if you have a good one on training with your parent or child! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org