Being Dad

Fitness first – Staying Fit After A Baby

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

For some, becoming a Dad feels like a sudden reversal of the world you once knew. Up is down, down is up and soon, your exercise equipment is coated in dust.

Sadly, with sleepless nights, overtime at work and motivation draining away, your fitness regime could be the first thing to go when your baby arrives.

Making a few sacrifices, opening yourself up to new experiences, and even creating a D.I.Y gym could mean that you don’t have to wave a solemn goodbye to keeping fit. We asked up 10 FQ readers reveal how they’ve managed to juggle staying in shape with raising their children.

Becoming a dad doesn’t have to signal the end of your regime!

Run for your life!

“When my son was born both my wife and myself really had to tighten our belts, and though I still had three months of my gym membership to run after Johnny was born, as soon as I was out of contract I didn’t renew it. I still wanted to keep fit, though, so started running. It’s just about the cheapest exercise out there and great for clearing your head when things are getting on top of you. It is worth getting a pair of good running shoes but beyond that you don’t need anything else. I’ve since returned to the gym as we have a bit more time and money but for that first year jogging was a godsend.”
Karl, 28, dad to Johnny, 3

Be flexible

“I’ve been a regular gym goer all my life, except for a period when I broke my leg in a motorcycle accident – but I have to admit that when Kelli came along it was much harder to keep up my routine, partly because I didn’t want to be coming home late because of the gym. In the end I switched my gym membership from the one near my home to one nearer work. It’s a bit more expensive but is better value because I use it in my lunch hours. I also don’t beat myself up over missing a workout. If I can’t make it I go for a run at the weekend instead. When you’re a dad you’ve got to be more flexible about everything.”
Warren, 27, dad to Kellie, 3

Go swiss

“When Maisey was born my saving grace was my Swiss Ball. I’d never even heard of them until my osteopath recommended I get one. Just before our daughter came along I’d been suffering from quite bad lower back problems caused, my osteopath told me, by a lack of ‘core stability’. I later found out that that was a polite way of saying I was out of shape and my abs weren’t up to much! So I did as he said and got the exercise ball, which cost me about £15 I think. It turned out to be the best £15 I’ve ever spent. Not only did it improve my back problems massively but helped keep me in shape in the year after Maisey was born. It does take a bit of mastering but it’s brilliant for keeping fit, it’s really versatile and it’s great if, like me, you don’t have money to spend on a fancy gym membership.”
Alan, 34, dad to Maisey, 3

Make your kids your gym

“When I look around me I get quietly dismayed about the lack of interest many kids take in exercise and I think that comes from their parents – I have quite a few mates who do practically no exercise with their kids so how are they supposed to learn about being fit? I’m lucky I have two sports-mad lads and frankly I get enough exercise kicking a ball around with them. I also taught all three of my kids to swim and take them on walks with me whenever I go out in the countryside where we live. If you’ve got a bit of imagination and some get up and go you don’t need a gym to keep fit – your kids will do it for you!”
Chris, 41, dad to Dudley, 11, Martyn, 8

Find your own mr motivator

“I’ve looked after myself physically from the age of 18. I pretty much love all sport, play footie every Saturday and go to the gym three times a week if I can. But when I became a dad everything went up in the air. Finding the time and motivation to keep fit was much harder than I ever expected. The only thing that did motivate me were my mates. I go the gym with a guy from work and if it wasn’t for his nagging I probably would have packed it in when Dan was first born. It’s hard enough to motivate yourself as it is but when you’ve got all the other things to contend with it’s nearly impossible, so make sure you have a running partner or gym buddy to egg you on and keep you motivated.”
Jaz, 37, dad to Dan, 9

Roll out the mat

“I’ve always been a fairly active bloke – in my 20s I used to play a lot of tennis and moved onto squash when my job as a manager but into my time. But when our second child came along I found I had less and less time to get out and keep fit, partly because of the long hours I was working. The stress of work and a new arrival was really getting to me and in the end my wife suggested I try yoga. She’d been doing it for years and started again after having Josephine and though I was suspicious at first I really got into it, though it’s much, much harder than you think! We did Hatha Yoga which is great exercise but also brilliant for stress since it helps you control your breathing. I know a lot of men don’t really ‘get’ yoga – and I must say some of my mates gave me some stick initially – but I’m a total convert and am convinced it got us through the stress of having two kids to see to. I’ve been practicing for three years now, have attended classes at my gym to polish up my technique, and have recently started to learn Siddha Yoga which focused more on meditation. These days I never travel without my Yoga mat! My advice? Try it – it works.”
Damian, 39, dad to Barley, 5 and Josephine, 3

Get back to basics

“My only advice to any dads out there who moan about not having time or money to keep fit is stop making excuses! I’m a full-time parent as my wife works and I still manage to fit in 100 sit ups every day and it doesn’t cost me a penny.”
Paul, 27, dad to Melissa, 2

Caddy on regardless

“In a word – golf! Keeps me fit – sort of – and more importantly gives me time away from the family and with my mates. I’ve tried loads of things to unwind but in my mind this is the best. Peace and quiet once a week – bliss.”
Nik, 31, dad to Pierce, 4

Burp yourself

“I’d suggest Burpees. They’re a great form of exercise if you don’t have much time, space or dosh because they work all the major muscle groups. You basically start with one press up, quickly jump forward so you’re in a squatting position, then jump in the air with your knees to your chest and with your hands above your head. Then, when you land, you adopt the squat position again before going into the press up and repeating the whole thing. In all honesty you do look a right Muppet doing them but they do work and if you get the rhythm right they’re a great work out.”
Patrick, 32, dad to Jon, 6 and Billie, 3

Create your own gym

“A few months before Joni came along it became obvious that I wouldn’t have quite the same opportunity to work out so I got a few things from Argos catalogue and effectively created my own gym in the garage. Funnily enough one of my favourite exercises is skipping and I’d never have thought about it had I not spotted a rope in the catalogue. It was a brilliant way to stay fit because I did whatever I fancied whenever I fancied and that’s important if you’ve got kids.”
Marcus, 27, dad to Joni, 3