I love watching my kids at the gym. Today as I was working on my Sumo Deadlifts I glanced at my daughter as she set up a few two and a half pound plates, perfectly in line on the mat she chose to lay on. She began lifting them up and down, much like I would do a floor press with dumbbells. Most likely she picked this up by watching either me or the members at the gym. My son was running around touching everything. Climbing up the elliptical and hanging off of the TRX straps. He walked over to the kettlebell section and tried, unsuccessfully, to lift the fifteen pound kettlebell. He does however usually walk around with the ten.
At the gym, when it’s just me doing my thing, my kids run free and explore this awesome place in their eyes. In one corner there are tires, a one of them is the car tire from my wife’s old car. She got a flat and instead of letting the repair shop keep it and throw it away, I kept it and my daughter flips it. The other corner has medicine balls that my kids pretend at times are Atlas stones. If you ever watched the World’s Strongest Man contest on ESPN, the atlas stones are those big concrete balls that the lifters pick up and place on a platform. Some days the medicine balls are used as soccer balls.
My kids are always watching me when I am working out. They see me do pull-ups and they laugh hysterically. I wonder what they think is funny. Exercising in front of the kids will hopefully develop in their minds the desire for them to exercise, to live a healthy lifestyle. They see Daddy do. There’s no talking about some day, one day, maybe, or I wish.. it’s action and they see it.
There is a lot of things a young child can do to start to develop fitness. One thing parents can do too, which is very hard to accept, is to allow their children to crawl as long as possible and NOT push for them to become walkers fast. It’s not a sign of baby genius or being advanced. Crawling is important for core strength and the strength children develop crawling will carry over into the rest of their adult life.
My daughter is four. She lifts medicine balls, pulls sleds, lifts kettlebells, does bear crawling and crab walks, and carries two to five pound weights around the gym. She does everything we should be doing. The basics. And she loves it.
Most important is the fact that my children see me working on improving my strength and my body and my mind. They see me not settling for easy or excuses. They see things getting done, as they should, and the lessons will continue as they grow and my only hope is they learn to love the fitness lifestyle and adapt training into their lives.