Since I’ve been on this journey, my kiddos have learned a few exercises and turned working out into play. It’s been so fun and rewarding sharing this journey with them, because when I was younger, I hated exercise.
Different Kind of Play
When I was little little, like before my teen years, the way I played was like exercise. I was very active and always running around or playing a sport. I lived in trees and parks up until curfew. Things changed once I started junior high.
I had an uncle that would push exercise on me and my cousin. It wasn’t play by any means. He had all this workout equipment in a garage and would wake us up and have us workout. He was extremely toxic.
He would poke at our bellies and constantly compare our muscles. He called us fat and chubby. He was the first person to ever give me diet pills too. He wasn’t a good roll model by any means, and I hated anything that dealt with working out or fitness.
In my teen years, I also developed bulimia, and sometimes, I would exercise until I was sick. It was awful, but I was good at hiding it. I had a terrible attitude on top of it all. I was that girl that would give the gym teacher the finger and walk the entire mile during the fitness test. It makes me sad looking back, because the one year I actually tried, I ran a mile in 7 minutes and 14 seconds. I was pretty decent at running and didn’t hate it but not many people knew that.
In college, I discovered yoga. I was still struggling with body image, but yoga helped me calm my anxiety and find a happy place. Yoga helped me through my eating disorder recovery process too. Once I had kids a few years after graduating college, I still did it when I could find the time.
I was never great at it, and I never took a class or anything. I just used apps and videos online. Now that I found a way to love exercise, I still add yoga in, and my kids love it.
I try to do some basic stretches and poses on rest days or if I have a bit of a cold. If I can’t sleep at night, I have a few go to poses to help me relax too. Yoga has been like that friend you call when you’re stressed, except I like it better than actual people.
Hesitation with Kids
I never want my kids to feel like they have to workout. I want them to love exercise and being active. I would never in a million years push it onto my kids. So, I get pretty excited when they want to get down on the floor with me and learn poses and basic exercises. They also just want me to take pictures of them to put on the fridge and send to their dad while he’s working, but we have fun doing it.
They almost always crawl under my planks or sit on my feet or belly during sit ups and bridges. Now, they are learning how to do the moves too. For a 2 year old and an almost 4 year old, they are learning fairly quick. I’m happy we can share that time together.
Toddler Workout Favorites
My littles have a handful of moves and exercises they really love doing. They try their best at harder stuff, but usually, I try to keep it simple for them while they are still figuring out their balance.
Bridge Pose- my kids have a blast doing this. My son likes to challenge his little sister to see who can stay up the longest. I try to tell them it’s all in good fun though.
Donkey Kicks & Fire Hydrants- The moment my kids heard the names of these, they were down on the floor giving them a try.
Jumping Squats- I hate jumping squats. I’d rather do weighted squats or just regular, but my kids said it’s a frog exercise. They do these the most, and I wish I could do as many as them.
Dead Bug- I’m pretty sure the name is part of the reason they like doing dead bugs, but they are a move I enjoy too.
Sweating like Pros
Some days, they really get into it and work up a sweat. Other days, they spin in circles and roll around me while I’m doing my routine. Either way, they see how happy it makes me, and seeing me enjoy exercise in a healthy way makes them enjoy it too. I have no doubt in my mind that they will grow up liking gym class and being active.
On my rest days, my son will still ask if I can stretch, because he loves doing that stuff with me. So, we stretch and try some small yoga poses. I’m sure having a workout partner would be great for accountability, but working out with my toddlers is actually pretty lovely.
Mommy Favorites & Not So Favorite Exercises
My kids also do other exercises like mountain climbers and clapping crunches, but we don’t stress over form or any of that complicated jazz. I try to make sure if they are doing something, it’s safe and they won’t hurt or pull anything. When it’s my turn to be serious and get my workout on, I have things I love to do and ones I hate.
- Planks– I love every kind of plank except side planks. I broke my foot a few years ago and didn’t get it taken care of like I should have, so it can make some things hard.
- Reverse Crunches- I love the burn I get from these, and they help mix it up with boring crunches.
- Russian Twists– I absolutely hated these when I first started, but now, I even add in weights. They make me feel great.
- V Sits- Whether single leg V Sits or both legs, I really enjoy these. I like a challenge, but I’ll admit they were my least favorite part of high school gym glass.
- Reclined Oblique Twists- I’ve loved doing these from the start of my workout journey. They make me sweat, and I love that I can really feel what I’m doing. My husband refuses to do them with me though. He hates them with a passion.
- Squats- I genuinely enjoy squats. I prefer them over wall sits, and I love to add it weights too.
Mommy Not So Favorites
- Burpees- I hate these with the fire of the burning sun.
- Lunges- I swear I do these wrong, because I always hurt myself. I don’t mind squats at all, but I hate lunges. My kids like them though.
- Jumping Jacks– I’m not a huge fan of any jumping exercise. I’ve always been chesty and feel super awkward jumping around. Plus, my dogs bark when I jump, but it’s probably because they think I’m going to break the dang house.
Positivity & Growth
Even if I hate doing something, I smile and accept the challenge. I want my kids to look at exercising with a positive attitude even if something is hard. I don’t want them to dislike something just because it isn’t easy. I get discouraged quite easily, but I don’t want them to see that and follow my example. So, I push through, and I usually end up changing how I feel about the things I didn’t like before.
Working out alongside my toddlers has taught me to have fun with it. They’ve helped me grow in more ways than I could have imagined with this health journey. I didn’t have the best examples growing up, so I want to be better for my kids.
Do you have any exercise favorites or things you’re not a fan of? Feel free to share. No judgement.