Suddenly being thrust into the world of primary parenting for a 1-year-old means that I haven’t been as physically active as I like to be. In the old days (read: before Gabe), I liked to workout 3-4 times a week. More recently, I’ve been aiming for a workout 2-3 times a week.
But as I’ve taken over many more hours of parenting and we’ve started our epic, nomadic summer, I haven’t “worked out” once in the past week (ed note: Ha, once in the past week? That’s probably what we moms aim for much of the time!). This seems like it would be a disaster for maintaining my dad-ly physique. But, as I’ve found, it’s not. I’ve been able to keep my sort-of-in-shape bod with five major toddler-based exercises:
- Cardio: This is the all-important building block to maintaining general health. I try to get at least 30-60 minutes of cardio everyday by running after Gabe on various playgrounds and/or a living room. I usually go for two bursts of 30 minutes, one in the mid-morning and another in the early evening. To add some degrees of difficulty, I find the least adult-friendly play-station and let Gabe run wild while I use the various stairs, tubes, bridges and other components as an obstacle course. Gabe always helps me during this workout, as he really loves running each playground and play-station from end to end.
- Lower body: I like to keep my legs strong by schlepping anything and everything anywhere an everywhere. Just last Sunday I carried my backpack, his backpack, his pack ‘n play, his pack ‘n play mattress, my duffle bag, plus him in his stroller two blocks to our AirBNB in Brooklyn. I felt like a super-dad, a very sweaty super-dad with cramps in my shoulders and back. Another way I like to give my legs a workout is to carry him and his stroller up the many, many stairs that we encounter everyday, not to mention picking him up at least 50 times a day.
- Upper body and back: This is probably the easiest workout I do everyday. There’s the ubiquitous lifting when he grabs on to my legs and cranes his neck to look up at me. There’s tossing him up in the air like a medicine ball. Then there’s the always-popular “super-baby,” which is like a bench press, so good for the chest, too.
- Toning: I don’t want to look like a puffed-up, muscle bound dude from the Jersey Shore. To keep myself trim, and because Gabe loves being held, I make sure to get in plenty of isometric exercises for long stretches of time. The great thing about this is I never know when he’ll want to be held, for say, 23 minutes straight. It could be after a serious two-block walk with seven bags or after a good 35-minute playground run. Either way, by holing him for long stints randomly during the day I end up keeping my dad bod sort-of lithe.
- Endurance: Cardio is great, but it’s not so helpful if I get tired after an hour. Luckily, I practice for endurance, too, with hundreds of 3-to-10-foot sprints. Lately I’ve been running across the living room to keep Gabe from putting fingers in the unprotected sockets of our various hotels/AirBNBs/etc. I also have to sprint over to him to spot him once I realize he’s trying to climb the stairs, or grab breakables out of his hands in our lovely (but un-childproofed) lodging.
So there you have it. Who needs to go to the gym when you have a highly mobile 22-pound cannonball who never stops moving? With those five timeless workouts, I get all the activity I need and much more than I actually want.
If you don’t have a toddler of your own, and are interested in giving the toddler-centric workout a shot, consider babysitting my son! You’ll get paid to work out!