Parents will always feel the pressure to exercise when they have kids. Keep fit and healthy. Lose weight. Set a good example. I totally understand this.
But you don’t need a gym membership when you have a toddler. You have your very own personal trainer already.
Save yourself that monthly fee. No worries about getting to that gym class on time. We’re going to exercise toddler style.
This is important for improving your flexibility and balance, muscle tone and can also help with increasing bone density – keeping osteoporosis at bay. No need for a set of weights or a fancy pants gym program when you have a toddler. My toddler likes to ‘help’ me with this program by resting on one of my hips and being held by me when I vacuum the floors. Helpful little dude, isn’t he? That extra weight does wonders for my balance and my biceps get a great workout too. Just make sure you swap arms half way through your vacuuming; you don’t want uneven biceps. No one wants man arms, unless you’re a man.
Some people like to strap weights around their ankles when they exercise. Apparently it assists with building leg muscle tone. Great for summer when you’re wearing shorts or that cute denim skirt you love. When you have a toddler, this exercise can be achieved daily, without purchasing weights. Normally in our house, this exercise is easily slotted in when I’m preparing dinner. Our toddler sits on the kitchen floor, with his arms wrapped around one of my ankles. I then use that weight to keep that leg anchored to the floor whilst pivoting to the various kitchen appliances – fridge, stove, oven. Just remember Ross from Friends saying, “pivot, pivot, pivot”. This can be rather challenging, but you can do it. This move is also a great stretch for your arms. Feel the burn as you reach for the pasta in the pantry that is just beyond the reach of your fingertips.
Cardio is great for weight loss, and experts recommend a vigorous 20 minute cardio session, three times a week. Got a toddler? No problem. You’ve got this. Go to the park or shopping centre and you’ll be burning those calories in no time! Once they’re out of their pram, toddlers will run, and run, and run. Perfect to get a cardio session in. Particularly if your toddler is an adventurous type, you may even be able to get an extra cardio session or two squeezed in to your week. Chasing them through the shopping centre when they try to escape from the play areas, or running after them when they decide the sandpit at the park is no longer of interest, cardio is an easy exercise to fit in to your lifestyle.
This form of exercise is all the rage at the moment. High intensity training will get your heart rate elevated in no time at all. You’ll be red faced and sweaty, and ready for a lie down afterwards. If you have a toddler, this form of training can be achieved on a daily basis. “How can I fit a high intensity session in to my day? I’m so busy!” I hear you say. Two words – car seat. Trying to strap a toddler in to a car seat is an ideal way to fit a high intensity workout in your day. Particularly if your toddler likes to plank (stiffening all limbs and making themselves rigid so you just can’t get them to sit down), or do an impersonation of a drunken, angry octopus (they thrash their arms and legs around making you have to work fast to get the straps secured- a favourite in our house). Just a few minutes of this is guaranteed to have you red faced and breaking a sweat. If you don’t have access to a car seat, a shopping trolley or pram works just as well. A bonus of this work out is that you will be forced to take deep breaths to keep calm and not lose your shit when you’re in public.
But if these work outs aren’t really your thing, you could try yoga. I find as soon as I lie down to do any form of stretching / push ups / sit ups, my toddler likes to climb on to me. You can do some simple breathing exercises whilst enjoying a gentle stretch, all the while, your toddler is bouncing up and down on your stomach or back. This is great to ensure you are engaging your core and really making the most of your work out. It also really points out to you all your wobbly bits that you need to focus on toning up. Personally, I find the extra weight of my toddler on my back when I’m doing push ups, to be quite helpful. Really gets the arms working harder and makes me check my back is straight.
Dancing can be a great way to exercise, without even realising it. The “oh shit, what did I just step in on the floor” move that has you quickly lifting your feet up, quite similar to ‘high knees’, a popular form of warm ups if you take part in boot camp. Start waving your arms and flicking your hands around too in an “ew ew ewwww!” manner for a quick heart rate boost. Also worth trying is the “where has the child gone, they were here just a second ago” spin on the spot followed by a mad sprint around the house to make sure the toddler hasn’t launched themselves off a piece of furniture, or broken into the pantry and is pouring all the cereal on the kitchen floor.
So next time you see a pop up stand at the shops, with someone trying to sell you a bargain priced gym membership, tell them “no”. You have a toddler – your very own highly effective personal trainer.
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT