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Fit Parenting: 3 Easy Ways to Maintain Your Fitness as a Parent

by Dani Taylor

Any parent who wants to maintain or improve their physical fitness will tell you the same thing:

It's quite difficult.

And without further help, the task becomes even more challenging if you are a stay-at-home mom.

It really is impossible, my desperate parent friends who tell me through tears that their small children need all of you have told me on multiple occasions.

Don't panic, though. Hope exists.

As a full-time worker, an athlete, and a stay-at-home foster parent of two small children, I've discovered that undertaking such an activity can be both feasible and enjoyable.

The key?

To succeed, you will need to embrace an iterative process that is always changing as your children grow and evolve, be open to trying new things, and be creative.

Below, I've included the top three obstacles parents encounter when attempting to maintain their fitness levels, along with some original and enjoyable ideas for overcoming each one.

First battle: "There isn't enough TIME!"

When I first started overnight foster parenting—for two children at once, no less—I was astounded by how much time it took to raise children in a healthy manner.

Diapers, eating, sobbing, playing, etc. These little ones were sooo exhausting. Adorable, yes, but tiresome.

I realized that I would need to become extremely inventive and effective with my time if I wanted to maintain my current level of fitness.

The Fix: Rethink Your Schedule

I soon realized how much time I was really squandering on pointless pursuits like reading emails, browsing social media, and other mostly useless activities. I was taking mental breaks from feeding and caring for my child with them, but actually, those activities were taking up even more of my time.

I eventually discovered that if you have twenty minutes to stare at your phone, you also have twenty minutes to perform push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and any other exercise that gets you closer to your objectives.

If you simply have this awareness and choose movement over distraction, you might discover that you can set aside thirty to sixty minutes daily for exercise.

Even though a 60-minute workout divided into three 20-minute sessions spread out throughout the day might not look like your pre-kids routines, it's still 60 minutes of physical activity and fitness development.

The "I Have a Spare Minute" Workout

This is a simple strength training routine you can do at home. If you're not familiar with these exercises, check them out on YouTube. Before beginning any new fitness regimen, please see a healthcare professional if you have any injuries or medical concerns.

3 sets of Push-ups to failure

3 sets of  pull-ups to failure

3 sets of Burpees one minute each

3 sets of 10-12 reps of Kettlebell goblet squats 

Three sets of planks to failure

Take advantage of the opportunity to complete this when you have 30 to 60 minutes to spare in your day. If you must use the all-day method, you could tackle it as follows:

  • After burping your fed baby, place them in the bassinet and perform a series of push-ups. Do a set of pull-ups on your kitchen's door jam pull-up bar if you have time.

  • Hold the baby and carry on with your parenting duties until you get another chance to grab a kettlebell and smash out a set of goblet squats.

  • Do a set of planks and some burpees during nap time in between cleaning the dishes, taking a shower, etc.

You'll discover that you can go through the entire circuit I mentioned above multiple times during the day while hardly noticing. This tactic is equally effective when used with toddlers and multiple children. Include your older kids in your exercise routine and make sure they understand how important this is to you.

Struggle 2: "My toddler won't sit still!"

If you've spent time with children, you know how overwhelming toddler energy can be at times and how all-consuming the ensuing mayhem can seem.

For the sake of your child's safety (and the preservation of your home!), it can often feel hard to even consider doing something other than constantly watching over them.

The Answer: Get Help or Corral

I've found two sensible approaches to handling this problem. One option is to use a daycare or nanny service offered by a fitness center.

The local gym to which my family belongs offers free daycare to working parents who need to drop their children there for an hour in order to work out. Climbing gyms are among the many other establishments that do this. For the majority of folks, this seems to work fairly effectively.

Even if you're not a gym goer, having the opportunity to use the weight room, spin class, or treadmill can be wonderful for you and your kid.

Due to my child's severe separation anxiety, I usually choose option number two, the Corraling Method.

First, choose a room and baby-proof it. This might be a spare room in the basement, a guest room, your children's room, etc. After confirming that it is indeed safe for them, make room so that you may perform resistance training.

Bring any equipment you prefer to use for your workout, such as dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX straps, or anything else. Put your child's favorite music on, lock yourself in the room, and get them moving. They are unable to break free, enter hazardous situations, climb objects, or, most significantly, prevent you from exercising.

One entertaining method to incorporate them into your routine is to have them crawl on you and try to join in. My girls still like doing this. In fact, your chances of success increase significantly if you can persuade them to engage.

Safety Tip: Keep a close eye on your children at all times and refrain from performing high-speed kettlebell movements like swings while they are in the room. Put the vigorous workouts off until a safer setting.

The "Kids in the Room" Workout

Here's a strength-training exercise you can do in the room at home with your kids:

3 sets of 10–12 reps of dumbbell chest press on a yoga ball

3 sets of upright rows using TRX straps to failure

3 sets of 10-12 reps of weighted squats 

3 sets of pull-up bar hanging leg lifts to failure

3 sets of Supermans to failure

Struggle 3: "I don't have the money or space for a home gym." 

Despite what you might see on TV, a home gym doesn't have to resemble a small CrossFit studio to be successful, and it doesn't have to cost several thousand dollars to build.

You actually have all you need with your body weight plus a few basic tools.

The Answer: Concentrate on a Select Few Essential Items of Gear

Over the course of several years, I accumulated a modest home gym by purchasing equipment at a bargain from local gyms that were shutting down or upgrading their inventory, Play It Again Sports, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.

I suggest you start with the following items to obtain the most value for your hard-earned money:

  • A pull-up bar. All you need is a door jam to put it in, preferably one you walk through frequently during the day, to serve as a reminder to pause and perform a set. You can get one on Amazon for less than $30.

Unable to perform a pull-up? Acquire some resistance bands to aid in your gradual ascent. Furthermore adding to the resistance bands' usefulness are their numerous additional exercises.

  • Used Dumbbells or Kettlebells: One that is light enough to use for exercises targeting the upper body and another that is heavy enough to target the lower body's stronger muscles. Go to YouTube, find some kettlebell exercises, and start working out (just remember to practice safety and correct form). One of the best and most adaptable resistance training equipment available is the kettlebell. Obtain several sets of dumbbells with different weights if you do not like kettlebells.

And that's it! All you need is that. Of course, if you're still interested, here's what else completes my at-home workout regimen:

  • A pair of used TRX straps so you may work out your entire body both at home and on the go. Did you just purchase that pull-up bar? The TRX straps snap onto it with ease. When I travel somewhere where I won't have convenient access to a gym, I bring mine. I've attached them to school playground monkey bars, tree branches in the forest, cellar door jams, and even parked cars' door jams.

  • Because it increases resistance for bodyweight workouts and promotes key adaptations, a weight vest can be a terrific addition to a home gym. I prefer to use mine during yoga poses, air squats, jump squats, planks, pull-ups, burpees, and push-ups. I even frequently use it when hiking, particularly if I plan to climb any hills. There are numerous brands available at various pricing points. In order to work up gradually, look for used and make sure the one you choose allows you to add or subtract weight.

  • Lastly, I have a soft spot for stationary bikes for home gyms since they are less expensive than rowing machines, ellipticals, or treadmills when it comes to cardio equipment. If you don't have a lot of space, they are also incredibly portable and compact. Play It Again Sports offers trustworthy brands like Schwinn and Nautilus at incredibly low costs.

The "Minimalist Home Gym" Workout 

With the equipment listed above, try this strength training exercise:

3 sets of 10–12 repetitions of standing kettlebell shoulder presses

3 sets of 10–12 repetitions of standing chest press using TRX straps

3 sets of weighted standing lunges (10–12 repetitions)

3 sets of pull-ups until failure with the help of resistance bands

3 sets of Turkish Get-Ups using a kettlebell (8 repetitions on each side)

Though Not Simple, It Is Achievable

As an athlete's parent, you will undoubtedly encounter additional difficulties, but bear this in mind:

With your kids, the approach should be enjoyable, adaptable, and as inclusive as feasible. This is your chance to set an essential example for your family and institute some important rules.

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that most parents can reach their fitness goals even in the face of rigorous parental tasks if they focus on time management, exercise some ingenuity, and are ready to move a little outside their comfort zone.


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