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Want to step up your exercise routine but feel like the kiddos are getting in the way? Try high intensity interval training and encourage the kids to join you.
As a parent, it’s not easy to make time for exercise and self-care. So many priorities take precedence and fitness tends to get left on the back burner.
Lucky for M and I, we have youngsters who love sports and being active. We have been taking advantage of this passion by encouraging our kids to participate in a short but intense (for us, not them) exercise routine with us. We get a workout while also modeling for our boys the importance of general health and fitness. They see us make it a priority and also learn some ways to practice fitness themselves.
We don’t encourage the boys to do anything they don’t want to do or try exercises beyond their physical maturity. We let them mimic us in ways that works for their little bodies and participate whenever they please. We also focus our discussion on the health benefits of exercising and steer clear of matters related to physical appearance.
As of late, we have squeezed workouts into whatever time and space makes sense. While more exercising has resulted in more loads of laundry and more showers (I hate having wet hair), the endorphin high after exercising is worth the sweaty clothes washing and hair drying.
Short But Intense Interval Training Perfect for Parents
Two weeks ago, we did an interval workout on our patio before our kids awoke. A few days later, we blasted music in our basement and “pumped it up” after the kids went to bed. Last week, we did a workout in our kitchen with the boys after breakfast.
More recently, while on a family vacation, M convinced a half dozen of us to sweat it out in the backyard of our rented home. For much of the workout, at least one or two of the kids were working out along with us.
And just this past weekend, M and I completed a quick 20 minute high intensity interval workout while watching four kids between the ages of 2 and 5 (our two boys and my sister’s two kiddos).
I’m not trying to boast. On the contrary, you can definitely do this too, even with little ones hanging around. Additionally, all of these high intensity interval routines we do together require little to no equipment and no more space than the length of our bodies.
Irrespective of the ages of your children, it’s almost a guarantee you could squeeze in one of these 10-20 minute workouts. I’ve tried to make excuses… but it’s just not that easy.
The routines are comprised of short intervals and short breaks (to answer questions from little voices or show them how to join the fun, if necessary).
High Intensity Interval Training Workout Ideas To Do With Kids Around
Here is how it works:
We pick 2-4 exercises and do a set of 8 intervals for each one.
An interval is 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Or more simply, it’s 20 seconds of working out followed by 10 seconds of rest 8 times in a row. It’s harder than it sounds, but also, we can survive anything for 4 minutes, so no excuses, right?
This specific format of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for 8 sets is called Tabata. You can download apps on your phone that track the time. It sounds more complicated than it is, but trust me that it’s not hard to follow, especially when the app does all the tracking for you.
Here are a few examples of exercise from which we choose when we piece together a routine:
- Mountain climbers
- Planks (or side planks)
- Push-ups (sometimes on my knees)
- Jumping rope
- Tricep dips
- Lunges (side, forward or back)
Combine four cycles, each cycle being a set of 8, and you’re done.
The simple exercises above are just a few examples, but it offers an idea of how basic the exercises can be. Our kids get a kick out of doing the exercises next to us (or sometimes on top of us). They don’t always have perfect form, but we love exercising with them and reinforcing the importance of fitness by modeling it for them and introducing them to it.
There are also plenty of apps available that offer myriad high intensity interval circuits that vary from day to day or get harder over time.
What To Wear… Oh Exercise Clothes
It’s been years since I refreshed my workout clothes. Everything still fit (because it’s spandex and my body hasn’t changed that much over the last couple years), so I didn’t feel all that inclined to spend money on new gear.
But I also recognize that a renewed wardrobe can re-energize a fitness routine, and I have been ready to give my fitness routine a jolt.
Combining a few gifts with a couple of new purchases myself, I recently refreshed my workout apparel with a couple new pieces in each category (pants, shirts, sports bras). I also live in a warmer climate after our move to Philadelphia, so I added a few pairs of shorts to my previously leggings-only collection.
We have been working out more recently than we were a few months ago (woot woot), but that also means a lot more laundry (and stinky laundry at that). We use mostly natural and organic detergents in our clothes, which work well enough for most things. But with items like sweaty exercise clothes, we find it helpful to add a boost from 20 Mule Team® Borax.
Recently, we grabbed another box of Borax from the laundry additive section on our weekly Target trip.
We all have weekly Target trips, right?
Borax, a common guest in the laundry room, helps laundry detergent kick up its game by softening water and enhancing detergent performance. It’s an all natural, multi-purpose household cleaner that, among many other uses, works well to help clean active wear. This is great for the piles of sweaty exercise clothes we’ve been racking up.
Exercise or not, laundry in our house always seems to pile up. Am I right? The mountains of never-ending laundry might lead one to believe we have more than four people living in our house. I’ll employ whatever tricks I can to make laundry easier, more efficient or more effective.
While Borax levels up the laundry, interval training really levels up a fitness routine, especially one constrained by limited time and parenting responsibilities. I try to make it to barre class once per week, and this is my luxurious fitness treat. But building a regular exercise routine of hour long classes or extended trips to a gym is not realistic at this place in our lives. We cobble together bits and pieces of physical activity, including short but intensive bursts like interval training, to arrive at a frequency that’s meaningful to our health but not overwhelming on our schedules.
Don’t get me wrong. We aren’t perfect weekend warriors that have mastered fitness for parents. Circumstances and opportunities change, but as they evolve we do our best to tackle what works for our family at the time.
M enjoys and commits to fitness more than me, so there are days when he sweats it out and I don’t. We encounter days when we want to exercise and can’t make time or weeks when we could make more time but choose to do something else instead. When we do scrape together time for exercise, we give ourselves a little credit for making it happen. Then we tackle that pile of sweaty clothes in our laundry basket before folding it together on the living room floor (Yep… That’s our most frequented “folding spot”).
What do you do to make time for fitness with and around your family? And once you amass a pile of dirty laundry, have you tried adding a little Borax to boost the cleaning power of your detergent? If not, be sure to check it out.
Now I just need to find out how I can get someone to fold my laundry for me. Ugh, and put it away. Is that not the worst?!