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Exercising_with_kidsThis isn’t one of those posts.

You’ve all SEEN them, right?

Those happy-go-lucky motivational posts about how to exercise with your kids.

Because it’s, like, super easy.

If you are just a wee bit organized.

And put in some effort.

They suggest you try one of these activities:

  • Baby and Me Aquafit!
  • Mom and Baby Zumba!
  • Mom and Tot Yoga!
  • Strollersize!

Or if you aren’t the … organized activity kinda mom … there is also the jogging stroller, or the hiking knapsacks, or the carriers that attach to bikes.

Then there are the suggestions to just, well, enjoy active living together.  Go for walks as a family.  Play soccer together.  Sign up for Ottawa Race Weekend together.  Take them for a swim.

Before I go any further?

If any of this works for you, and in any way toned you up, that’s wonderful.

Please tell me your secrets.

But none of it ever – or has yet – worked for me.

To go through the list, Zumba, Yoga and Aquafit never really gave me a workout before kids.

I totally “active play” with my kids all the time, but with a 21-month-old and 4-year-old, a round of soccer or a walk really isn’t going to “isolate my core” or “set my quads on fire” by any stretch of the imagination.

I don’t bike or hike, and while I do run, the introvert in me has always seen that as a solo experience.

So, you know what did work for me?

Swanky gym membership with play care option.

Oooh yeah.

I sucked it up and paid.

And it’s worth every penny.

I went on mat leave the first time in 2009 and joined the Ottawa Athletic Club.  I loved it.

I then cancelled my membership when I went back to work (because life was busy; I was hardly going; and I was going to have another kid in a couple years so, really, why bother?).

I then renewed it for my second leave and haven’t looked back.

While on mat leave I used it 3-5 times a week.  The kids went to play care and I went to bootcamp or turned my mind off on a treadmill for an hour (with hill and resistance options while listening to motivational workout music).

That + diet = happy fit mom.

Now that I’m back at work, I honestly make it 1-3 times a week, but I still keep the membership for a number of reasons which I will share for you here, in no particular order:

1.  It’s an indulgence.  My window into how the other half lives. 

My life is kids, and work, and mortgage payments, and elderly cars that might not make it through the winter, and lunch-making, and spontaneous unpaid overtime, and the general scrabble to make it all work.  I can’t tell you how …. voyeuristic …. it is to get changed after a workout while listening to two women have a serious debate about whether one of them should join her husband at the villa in Italy given she can only go for a week and a half.  Perhaps she’ll just go to Florida (where they have another vacation home).  My holiday this year?  We’re going to our friends’ cottage.  Save for basically offering to cook for a week, and the gas it takes to get there?  It’s free.  We are eternally grateful.

But while I’m at the gym?  Every now and then I pretend I live here:

Bonus points to anyone who identifies the house....

Bonus points to anyone who identifies the house….

And that my husband and I have conversations like this:

This is a hint.

This is a hint.

Yup.  It’s escapism for a fee, while breaking a sweat.

And while someone else watches my kids.

Which brings me to ….

2.  Someone else watches my kids.

I appreciate that there’s a price to this; but it’s worth every penny.  My gym has a lovely play care that both my daughters love.  The staff remember their names (it’s like preschool Cheers!); there’s a collection of Barbies my eldest adores and play structures and sports equipment my youngest plays with and on happily.

They watch them for up to two hours and fifteen minutes.  That enough time for a workout; shower; and coffee.

I went to bootcamp this morning (it’s a holiday Monday).  So that meant 45 minute workout; 30 minute shower and change; 45 minute coffee and reading BY MYSELF in a quiet corner before picking up the kids.  That’s almost as indulgent as pretending Peter Gallagher is repeatedly whispering the word “yogalates” at me.

Okay, if you’ve never heard it, you are missing out.  So here it is:

Can I just repeat here that I don’t even like yoga?  But mmmm.

3.  The workout doesn’t start with bootcamp!

So this holds for any activity where you are accompanied by young children, but equally transfers to the gym experience.

Pre-kids?  A 45-minute bootcamp would be a 45-minute bootcamp.  To make a 9:00 am class that’s a 7-minute drive away, I’d get us at, say 8:30, pack a bag, scarf a yogurt, grab a coffee, and be choosing my weights with 5 minutes to spare.

With kids?  I get up at 7:15 to play it safe.  After I’ve dressed and fed them breakfast and put them in front of a TV to occupy them as I get organized; I pack their gym bag and diaper bag complete with snack of Tolkien hobbit second breakfast proportions.  I locate everyone’s shoes (which you think would be easy, but no).  I get everyone in the car.  Park at the gym; get them into the gym; get changed while watching them; take three visits to the water fountain; wash each of their hands at two separate sanitizer stations (because they’re there); get them up and signed in to play care; and make class with about two minutes to spare.

Let me just say, even if the workout is a complete bust, the virtuous feeling of accomplishment derived from simply managing to get there will float you through much of the rest of the day.

4.  The workout doesn’t end with bootcamp!

I mentioned the coffee and reading ALONE part, but there’s still the entire production post play care pickup.

First?  We need to go watch the happenings on the squash courts.

Then?  We need to check out the (for some reason almost always abandoned) boxing training area overlooking the gym.

There, they generally have a mini-workout.  Here’s a flavour of activities from today and a few past visits:

Then?  We need to go get a snack from the cafe.

If anyone’s hobbit-counting, this would be elevenses.

We will then eat it while first watching the action on the indoor tennis courts and then, because it’s nice out, go sit at one of the tables outside to finish.  We’ll pick some dandelions before leaving because we don’t any of those at home.

We then get in the car and head home.

It’s around 11:30am by this stage.

By the time we get home, we are (obviously) all hungry for lunch.



Perfection Pending

Which brings me to here.


Anyway you slice it, exercising with young kids is a production.

For what it’s worth?

This morning I got a great workout, some nice quiet time, and then some wonderful time playing with the girls.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning.

I wish every Monday was a holiday.

How do you incorporate exercise into life with young kids?  I’d love to know.

Linking this up with Meredith’s Manic Monday hop over at Perfection Pending.