I can't take full credit for being in shape at 47. Oh, no. You see, I gave birth to my own personal trainer nearly 17 years ago, and she has been unrelenting ever since. My daughter, Jessica, came out screaming and didn't stop for three months.
Had she been able to talk, the translation would have been, "Get off your fat, lazy bum, Mom, and get moving!"
At age 2, the child had more stamina than the Energizer Bunny. I would chase her around in circles for hours throughout the kitchen, dining room and living room in my futile attempt to get her down for the night.
Yet, I was the one who always ended up on the floor, exhausted. I'd feel this tiny foot on my back.
"Get up, Mommy! Up!"
Taking her out in the jogging stroller was no picnic, either.
"Go faster, Mommy. Faster!" she'd shout in her little drill sergeant voice. By this time, I had lost a considerable amount of pregnancy weight, so I was beginning to enjoy this new mother-daughter-trainer dynamic.
After all, did I have a choice? Who would have thought that a preschooler could inspire the magic in our family workout?
The idea of a family workout is brilliant, if you think about it.
There are so many advantages: enhanced physical fitness; a sense of achievement; improved self-esteem and confidence - all of which contribute to better social, physical and academic performance.
Working out together also promotes success on a group level and reinforces the family unit.
No matter what your child's personality might be, the family workout can open up a wonderful channel for communication to address life's important issues.
Bill and I have benefited greatly from our Jessica-inspired family workouts.
Mind you, she still runs circles around us in the park, but we still have a lot of fun.
We have taken advantage of our special time with her, too, to see that she grows into a self-accepting young woman who allows her natural talents to shine in all areas of her life.
How about planning your own family workout?
Even if you don't have a child who initiates exercise, there are endless ways to get started.
Before you know it, everyone in the family will become motivated and encourage each other to stay on a regular, fitness routine.
Here are some of my winter and spring ideas:
* Set up a small gym in your home and play musical workout stations. Put your favorite tunes on. When the music changes, rotate everyone to another station.
* Include your preschooler in your workout.
I know a mother who watches a DVD and exercises with a yoga ball. On the days she doesn't use it, her child reminds her, "Do the ball, Mommy." That good reinforcement sounds familiar.
* Use weights with your school-aged children. They can handle the lighter ones, of course. You can show them how it's done with the heavier ones. Modeling this, or any fitness routine, will reinforce good exercise habits that can last a lifetime.
* Sign up for running races that include kids.
You could win a finisher's medal in your race, and kids usually receive prizes and participation ribbons. It's great fun.
* Pack a lunch and go on a family bike ride to a park or picnic destination. If you have young children, consider using a trail-a-bike or a tandem.
* Invest in a jogging stroller. Who knows?
You, too, might have a budding personal trainer waiting to coach you!
For more family workout ideas, please visit www.LindaCastor.com.
Story published Friday, December 5, 2008 ( Volume 3, Number 7 )