Monday, May 23, 2011

Family Wellness: The Triathlon Club

My son and I started a new club yesterday: the Triathlon Club. Only  people who have done a triathlon can be in it, and since he completed his first pint-sized version this weekend, the club now has two members: him and me!  We have our first meeting coming up at the local pool to practice for his next race and I am going to try very hard to project my personal brand of insanity training on him. Promise. For real!

This week is all about family fitness - getting everyone together to make getting healthy a family goal, priority, and project. Not only does group fitness increase the fun factor of getting in shape, it can provide a strong sense of unity, accountability, and immense satisfaction when you reach your goal together.

When I was a kid, my dad was my exercise inspiration.  As one of the most disciplined people I know, he got up and ran every single morning, even on Christmas, which was just completely insane to me as a kid (it now sounds like a heavenly idea).  I watched him complete races, borrowed his race t-shirts so I could feel like a runner too, and started running alongside him as a high schooler with my inhaler in a death grip.  When I wasn't sure I would ever be a good runner, he confided that when he started, he couldn't even run a block. Some people are gifted athletes and some people get there by way of sheer grit and blind ambition. I'm a proud card-carrying member of the second group! 

I'm looking forward to sharing some stories of families getting fit together and also hearing yours. For now, some ideas for how to discover your family's fitness niche:

1. Try anything! It's easy to pigeonhole our kids into what we think they would excel at only to be surprised later with what they want to do. Try a variety of activities together and let go of your expectations that any of you will be a phenom, or that its even required to be good at a sport to participate in it.  If being skilled was a prerequesite, I would have been kicked out of the gym a long time ago!

2. Cheer for each other and applaud the effort. Just because you're getting healthy together doesn't mean you have to be doing the same thing. Cheer each other on no matter what you're trying, and create as many positive experiences as you can.  When kids feel supported and successful, they are way more likely to try "try again."  Same goes for us grown-up kids, too. :)

3. Set a family goal. Whether it is to lose weight, complete a race, or (my personal goal) learn how to do a flip turn in the pool, set it and tackle it together. Don't worry about being the example for once; instead, be the teammate.

Summer is a great time to set family fitness goals.  This week, set aside some to talk with your family about what you want to learn how to do by Labor Day and ask about their fitness dreams. You might be surprised what you have in common.

Now go be healthy!

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