I lift weights AND stray toys.

Whether you take the title of this to mean you’re actively working out with your children, them adorably following along and mimicking you, or you think it means you’re using them as weights or cardio, you can consider yourself correct. Few things are as important as instilling discipline in your children, and a regular exercise routine is a great way to do just that. I personally like lifting weights, and my kids like mimicking or making fun of me while I do it, but either way they’re doing the motions and that’s what I wanted. Even if they’re only doing squats and presses because it’s funny to them, they’re still doing it, and if they do it EVERY morning with me, then that’s a habit! Yay!

Working Out With Your Kids

There’s a lot of ways to get your kids active, even if it means tricking them to a degree. My children are young enough that ” *gasp* oh no! Run!” is a good way to get them to chase me around or run with me. When they see me lifting weights, they come and do it to – we went so far as to buy them some little 1lb dumbbells from Five Below so they could lift with me and they LOVE it. Essentially, if you have toddlers, they want to do what you’re doing, so just let them. Encourage them working out by giving them their own tools to do it. Create games, like playing zombies – my daughter and son love to sit on my shoulders and we become the zombie and we chase the other kid. Often I get injured but it’s a lot of fun; as a dad, my pain seems to equal enjoyment for my kids so your mileage my vary.

What if your kids are older? Having been a pre-teen/teen at one point, I can tell you they absolutely DON’T want to do what you’re doing. How do you make them exercise with you? This might be easier if your kids are involved in sports and need to practice – offer to run with them, play catch, or shoot some hoops. Easy peasy, but if your kids are “indoor kids” like I was as a teen, it might be a bit more difficult.

As a kid who grew up shying away from team sports, the only physical activity I liked was biking. I hate structured … anything, so being forced to run with other kids, or play baskethoops, or run, or ANYTHING like that was something that I immediately rejected. I did, however, like long, unstructured walks in the woods. Biking with my friends was ALWAYS great, and once I got into high school, lifting weights captured my attention. Basically any introspective activity that allowed me to work at my own pace and discover my own goals and gains was something that I loved. This is a good way to approach kids who don’t go for team sports. Weight lifting and personal activity is a journey of self-discovery that allows a person to develop their strengths and interests without having to compare themselves to other people or feel like they’re holding back more people.

Especially with older kids, be open with your intentions and desire to start a new, healthy lifestyle. Some will jump on board just because they want to help you succeed, or see your success and want that for themselves as well. With all things, it’s important to be open and supportive with your kids.

Working Out With Your Kids

It’s largely about inflection here, so in this part we talk about using your kids as implements of exercise! Trust me, it’s not as weird as it sounds. My kids are young enough that they LOVE being thrown in the air, given piggy-back rides, bench-pressed, chased, or swung around. I’m not advocating that you lift your kids up 10 times and toss them on the ground like a dumbbell – that’s both not a good idea and also it’s poor form. What I AM suggesting is get your kids involved like a game. I can guarantee that when I get home tonight, the first thing out of my son’s mouth will be “Daddy can you throw me in the air”? And I will oblige him, not just because I want him to have fun and because I want to spend time with him, but also because picking my 40 pound son up, lifting him up over my head, and tossing him straight up is great exercise. It works my lower back, stomach, and shoulder muscles, not to mention the entirety of my arms.  By the time I’ve tossed little dude into the air two dozen times, my arms are tired and my upper body has some decent resistance training (and my kid has had fun, whatever).

I also will hold my daughter while in a prone position on my back, and with her held out in front of me, move into a sit-up position. This adds extra difficulty to the actual sit-up while working my arms. Plus she thinks it’s hilarious. My point is that there’s a TON of things you can do, especially when your kids are little, that involve them in your fitness while adding difficulty and resistance to your workout. Play time can be both productive to your gainz AND a ton of fun for them.

Again with older kids, it’s probably less likely  you’ll be able to throw them around or lift them up, but you can race them. If they’re in sports, you can run drills with them, sprint, play catch – just about anything you can do in the previous example, only more focused on your own progress. Where in the previous section I am advocating for getting your kids moving with you, I am in this scenario suggesting you find a way to get into their routine, if they’re ok with it. Basketball drills are insanely difficult, even if you’re a teen. A parent is going to feel probably crushed by sprinting stairs or something similar, and that’s great. It gives you a goal to work towards and a person to chase after, plus it gets you more involved in your kids’ lives, and that’s to the benefit of everyone.

Lead By Example

I have made a special effort in the last year or so to avoid being on my phone or the computer when my kids are around. After they go to bed, I work or play video games or pass out because I’m ancient and don’t sleep enough. When they’re awake, though, I have been doing my best to engage and teach them, and exercising with them is part of that. If your kids see you sitting on the couch all night after work, drinking a beer and eating garbage, that will be their “normal”. If you spend all your time with your face glued to a screen instead of being active with them, they’ll assume they’re not as high a priority. We’re sedentary enough at work or school all day; you owe it to yourself and your children to be more. Be active, include your children, and improve all of your lives at the same time. They’ll thank you for it later.


  • Silly Mummy Reply

    I agree – it’s good to encourage kids to be active, and to be active yourself. Personally, I teach my kids the Time Warp and count it as a workout. We also do Defying Gravity (ie I fling them around) & All That Jazz.

  • Jennifer Reply

    Teens will do what they’ve learned and enjoyed as kids. Do they like hiking, skiing, roller blading? Then they’ll continue doing that as teenagers. They don’t necessarily want to ski the same trails that you do, but they do want to go to the mountain.

  • maria Reply

    Woohoo! I made it!! Found some really great stuff in your blog, looking forward to more posts! I’m sending a couple posts to Daniel as well.

  • jodie Reply

    This really is such a great way to get active!!
    Not only for the kids, but us too!!

  • Anna R Palmer Reply

    When I went to baby yoga I was shocked to learn that they were supposed to lie peacefully on the mat beside us rather than being integrated into the practice like chubby little hand weights.

  • Robin Reply

    Such great ideas and motivation, Tony! At the rate you’re going you’ll be able to toss your son 3 dozen times before you tire out! About 10 days ago, I decided I needed to get off the couch and/or away from the computer and challenged myself to get 6,000 steps a day — a pittance, but better than before. But, because I made up my mind it is important, I’m doing it — and the other day, I needed about 1500 more steps so I dragged my 11 year old daughter with me. After brief resistance, she agreed. We had a great one-on-one conversation and laughed a lot. It’s awesome bonding. Keep up the great work!

  • Klaudia Reply

    Brilliant and everybody benefits from it. The kids surely have fun, you as parent enjoy time with your children and think of all the money you save on gym memberships or exercise gear ? Quality time for everybody!

  • Stacey W Reply

    I am a huge fan of this. My kids are 5 and 3. My husband bought a bike and I have rollerblades so we are getting out more with the kids bikes and being active. We want to be good role models in this area too.

    • Monechetti Reply

      It’s a lot of fun honestly – I like chasing them around but teaching them exercises is a cool way to instill positive habits in them, especially with how they like to imitate their parents 🙂

  • klaudia Reply

    I love the idea to stay off the computer when the kids are around! Not only for the fitness and fun factor. How many young parents tend to forget that their children watch and copy. I was actually hoping to see photos of your cute little girl in the article 🙁 I am sure, we will get to see some really sweet images soon, as I heard through the grapevine….. congratulations !!! Happy times ahead!

    • Monechetti Reply

      🙂 Thank you! I can definitely tell when I’ve been on my phone or something too much. My son lets me know haha.

  • Linda Hobden Reply

    Leading by example – working out with kids and introducing them to a healthy diet is a great way to help teach children how to have a healthy lifestyle ?

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