How to Con Yourself Into Exercising With Your Kids

mom playing raquetball
I love this game. Obviously.

Raise your hand if you like to leave your warm, cozy house and drive to the gym to exercise on cold, rainy winter nights. Anyone?

If you didn't raise your hand, join the club. And here's a little trick for you: join the club, for real. Sign up for a family membership at the local YMCA or athletic swim and tennis club, then tape the class and activity schedules to the fridge.

Then, prepare yourself. You may just end up with a couple of gym rat kids who beg you to drive them to the club every night and on the weekends when they get bored. It has been known to happen.


Here are more tricks to set yourself up for more workouts than you'd agree to if left to your own laziness:

Start saying yes more often. You'll soon run out of new reasons why you can't take the kids to the gym when you're not in the mood, so you might as well just say yes and get in the car and go.

Make things easy. Keep a bag of clean workout clothes by the door or in the car so you won't be tempted to just drop off the kids and go out for a cupcake while you're waiting. If you drive all the way there, you might as well go in, too. Plus, this is a great excuse to buy cute new workout clothes.

Relax and unplug. Playing sports together is actually kind of fun, and chances are, the kids like it when they have your full attention and you're spending time together as a family instead of sneaking away to the computer and zoning out in front of the TV. Lock your cell phone in the locker room, and resist the urge to check it every half hour. It's good for you. And there are no phones allowed in the yoga room, just so you know.

Try new things. Getting to the gym is only half the battle, getting bored with the same old workout routine is the other half, so make yourself learn new things along with the kids.

When's the last time you played racquetball, or Marco Polo in the pool, or a game of Horse on the basketball court? When's the last time you played those games with your kids? Your teens may surprise you with their willingness to play with you, which will make you feel extra happy, like you're the best mom in the world. Hey, whatever it takes.

Forget the rules. Consider just playing for fun for a few weeks before you sign up for the private lessons, download and memorize rule books, and quiz the children on tennis scoring vocabulary or the proper form when kicking a soccer ball around the handball court. Just run, jump, play, and get sweaty. You can learn the rules later, once everyone's hooked.

Laugh. I was surprised at how much fun it was to play racquetball with my 16-year-old daughter, who often tells me she isn't interested in sports. We giggled at our princess-like flying leaps to reach for the irritating blue rubber ball that seemed to fly around the room and through invisible holes in our racquets. And she surprised herself with her stellar jump serve that must have been left over from her middle school volleyball days. It popped up out of nowhere, and goodness, that girl can hit, and she taught me how, too.

Make it a habit, bring friends. Pick regular days for family workouts, put them on the calendar, and stick to them. Let the kids bring friends if they want, and make your friends come, too. There are worse things your young teens could be doing than hanging out with you and their friends every Friday night at the Y, playing tennis, and buying M&Ms afterward from the vending machine, with their own money. You and your friend can stop for cupcakes on the way home.


Have you attempted to work out with your kids?

Read More >