I would really like for my kids to grow up fit and healthy, and I know that a big part of that is building habits. My husband and I have very different fitness habits - he grew up without any exercise habit and never participated in sports while I grew up with heavy participation in dance and a daily home fitness routine. Although we are both capable of falling into a slump of inactivity for months on end, I'm still about 300 times more likely to choose to exercise than he is. The habits I built early on in my life are still pretty easy to pick back up again.
But despite knowing what did work for me, so far in my kids lives I've focused more on giving them what I didn't have in my childhood - team sports. As a homeschooled child, I didn't have easy access to school sports, and my parents don't enjoy sports so they didn't go out of their way to find them for me as a child. Dance, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and martial arts were all physically demanding activities that filled my time as a child, but I never had a team and I never was very good at the hand-eye coordination needed for ball sports (you'd think rhythmic gymnastics would have helped - it should have - I wasn't very good at it). I felt like there was a lack in my own life, so for my own kids I've made sure they had a chance to try out team sports while they were young.
It may have been a good thing to get the early exposure, but it hasn't taken off with either of them. My son has said flat out that he is "done with sports" as he enters middle school. My daughter still has some sports on her (way too long) list of extracurriculars she wants to fit into her schedule (and out of my educational budget) but her interests are veering toward theater and arts and we all agree the money and time would be better spent giving her those opportunities.
Hence the need for fitness that doesn't cost anything and can be done on our own, or in other words we're going back to my roots. Using my exercise habits and history as a model, we are getting up a bit earlier at least three mornings a week for a Family PE Class at 6:30 am. This early hour lets my husband participate and still have time to shower and rush to work on time. For 30 minutes we are doing a little cardio, a little calisthenics, maybe some yoga, and some stretching. I'm making each morning a bit different by adding in things like:
- Running laps around our house (opening all the gates made an awkward but adequate loop path)
- trampoline jumping
- rotation stations with hand weights and resistance bands (I only own one set of equipment, so we had to rotate)
- Grass Drills, army style
- Crazy Dance Party
- Playing the Fit Deck game
The beauty of this is that not only is it free, but it's getting the whole family more fit at once. It's time we spend together, we're modeling the good habits, and it's the sort of habit that the kids can carry on in their lives no matter where they live or what resources they have access to. Going to a gym is very nice, and I've always enjoyed when I have a gym membership and when it has been convenient to find time to go there, but you can't top working out at home for convenience and likelihood that you'll actually do it.
So now I'm adding fitness coach to my job description as a homeschooling mom!