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Executing a workout regimen for yourself—and pushing yourself to follow through—can take Atlas-like fortitude. Even more challenging: Crafting a fitness plan for the rest of your family too.
Still, it can be done. And should be. You owe your family the opportunity to better their health and fitness. Plus, it can be fun.
Below, Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and fitness advisor for Bowflex (sponsor of this article) covers everything you need to know about getting your family into top shape.
Finding their motivation
Not all clans can come together in harmony like the von Trapp family singers. Family members today are all off pursuing their own interests. So how do you unite everyone to pursue a common fitness goal?
“First, you have to set the credibility that you’re doing it,” Holland says. “You have to show that it’s a lifestyle for you. Then, you gradually bring them in. Slowly they’ll figure out what they want to do.”
Holland adds, “It has to be fun, like playing. It can’t be a workout. I see too many dads making their kids train. Kids don’t train. Kids need to have fun and it needs to be purposeful, fun, unstructured exercise. That’s where you start.”
Figuring out the where and how
So where and how should family members engage in this fun? Should everyone use the home fitness gear? Or maybe join an outside gym? Will walking the dog do? Says Holland, all these options can work.
“You have to figure out what they like,” he says. “My 15-year-old is addicted to Malcolm in the Middle. I told him, ‘You can watch it on our VeloCore bike downstairs.’ So now he does. He can binge-watch three episodes and bike for 90 minutes.” [VeloCore is a Bowflex stationary bike engineered to lean from side to side, much like a traditional bicycle.]
Holland also points out that gear isn’t required for an effective workout. “I go and run hills in my neighborhood,” he says. “I bring my son every now and then. He can’t run up the hill without giggling—it’s just fun. It’s such quality time together.”
Being the enforcer
Does being the family fitness leader mean you need to hold everyone to their workouts?
“Yes and no,” Holland answers. “You need to be flexible and inflexible at the same time. I say, ‘Hey we’re going to have five to seven workouts a week that I’d love for you to do.’ There’s no way I could say, every day at 9 a.m. we’re doing it.” The key, Holland says, is looking at what’s happening each week and coming up with ways to work in the workouts. “Life gets in the way,” he says. “Especially when it’s the whole family. The most important metric is consistency.”
Holland believes that keeping track of exercise routines will help family members move forward.
“There’s going to be some writing-down,” he says. “I would love for them to have some way to record it, whether it be on the phone or on paper. I got my kids notebooks. That way you can look and say, ‘Hey, you worked out 50 times this summer.’ Because we forget how much we did. That gives them self-efficacy and confidence for the year to come.”
Introducing the element of competition. Or not
Imagine, now, that you’ve motivated each family member to adopt some kind of fitness regimen. Dare you encourage them to compete against each other?
“You have to be really careful,” Holland warns. “I’ll say, ‘I’m proud you did these workouts’—that’s what matters most. But then we can say, ‘Hey, remember when you could only do 10 pushups? Well now you can do 50.’ I never say, ‘’Hey, your brother did this, so you should, too.’ Because they’re different.
Considering whether to get their eyes on the prize
Okay, so encouraging competition may not be such a great idea. But what about giving out rewards?
“When you have those rewards, it actually disincentives—kids especially,” Holland believes. “It becomes like work. I still believe in some kind of reward, but for effort, not outcome. And the reward needs to depend on the kid and what’s going to motivate that kid, like getting the child who likes to fish a fishing pole.”
And really, Holland says, getting family members to work out in the 21st century doesn’t need to be such a big challenge. Really, it’s easier than ever.
“We live in the greatest time for exercise, he says. “When I started out there was no internet, no YouTube. Don’t have time? Get a 14-minute workout on a mat. Don’t want to go to the gym? You don’t have to. All the yeah, buts are gone.”
Getting family members on a fitness plan gets easier when they can work out at home. From stationary bikes to home gyms, Bowflex can help. Click here to see how.