Ditch the belly AND the gym – Blog six
So the latest in the fitness world (admittedly, this was in the US, but nearly all fitness trends start there) is the ‘Dad-bod’ is in. Yes folks, apparently ‘Gym monkeys’ are getting less action than guys with ‘normal’ physiques! I feel normal has to be in inverted commas there, because what is normal?
According to two different articles I read, guys with a ‘Dad-bod’ are ‘turning on fraternity chicks more than jocks’! (see, the article was really American). This got me thinking, seeing as I think I rock the ‘Dad-bod’ pretty well!…
Before I was a dad (long, long before) I worked in a gym as a personal trainer. I was never very muscular, but that’s due to my body type and the fact that I didn’t guzzle protein shakes and shun cake! But I was slim, toned, fast, strong, flexible, and only sported one chin. Basically, everything I’m not now.
Back then, I had an abundance of the one thing I don’t have now; Time.
I, like most parents, need 28 hour days and 8 days in a week just to fit in the stuff we would all like to do a bit more of: sleep, watch TV, gardening, etc, and of course, more exercise.
Throughout the day at the gym, the clientele slowly went through a cycle as follows:
- 6:58am (The gym opened at 7): Whinging, sour faced, rude retired folk that moaned if you didn’t turn the TV’s on in the gym to news 24 and parked their tiny, ugly, upright cars badly, as close to the door as possible. (Can you guess I hated them!?)
- 7-8:45am: Child-free folk wanting to exercise before work.
- 8:45-11am: Yummy mummies, usually driving large European 4×4’s and were easy to flirt with (there was 3 private schools within a few miles).
- 11am-2pm: Hardly anyone, so this was when we (the fitness staff) usually isolated a couple of muscle groups, spotted for each other, and hit the weights hard, hoping that an attractive woman would come in. She never did.
- 2-4pm: Nice, chatty, funny retired folk that loved having some banter with the staff.
- 4-5pm: Quiet again.
- 5:-9pm: Full of young, fitness conscious 9-5’ers.
- 9-10pm close: A****oles that only existed to stop us fitness staff chilling out and knocking off early.
What did all these people have on their side? Time.
Who have I failed to mention? Working parents.
Working parents, and especially mums, are the hardest social group to get exercising because they’re so bloody busy looking after everyone else! Before you say, “Not all mums of private school kids don’t work”, true, but all the ones that went to the gym either didn’t work or worked very little from home. And that’s why they all have cracking figures and husbands that were at work, completely unaware that their wives were flirting with a personal trainer down the gym!
My wife is a personal trainer and has the figure to match, but she works damn hard at it and she wouldn’t get much business if she was more ’Adele’ than ‘Anniston’, would she! When she’s not working, her time with the children is precious and although we try to always have some time each week together as a family, she also likes some time with just her and the kids. It’s then that I usually do a cycle. However, it’s often difficult to even fit once a week exercise in because if the shed roof needs replacing or a sink needs unblocking or the car needs mending then it normally takes precedence over cycling around the New Forest.
All of a sudden, it’s been 2 weeks since I last did any exercise!
This problem is replicated in family households everywhere. Although things such as having a crèche at a fitness centre or parents sharing baby-sitting duties all help, if you work either part or full time and you look after your children, there is often something more important or vital to do than exercise.
But, as the government rightly tell us, we should exercise. I think the key to exercising is to find something you enjoy and stick at it. Occasionally I go for a jog, but I bloody hate it, so I give up. Since quitting working at the gym (over ten years ago now) I have only been back in a gym about five times while I was staying in a hotel for the night with a previous job, and even that was just for something to do in the evening. Why? I don’t enjoy it.
What I do enjoy is cycling. Because I enjoy it I push myself at it. When I jog, if I find it getting really tough I just walk a bit. But when I’m on my bike and I’ve done 30 miles already when a big hill looms in to view, I moan to myself, change down the gears and grind away with all my might until it levels off at the top. I look more like Chris Moyles than Chris Froome when I do it, but because I love what I’m doing I try as hard as I can.
So if you know you need to get fit, don’t automatically spend your had earned money on gym membership. Here’s some ideas for you:
- A pair of decent running shoes is 2-3 months gym membership.
- If you’ve got a mountain bike sitting in your garage gathering cobwebs, get it serviced for the same cost as 1-2 months gym membership and get out there. Even if you want to do more road work, spend 4-5 month’s gym membership on some hybrid/road tyres for your mountain bike, a decent pair of padded cycling shorts and some lights and away you go.
- Arrange a time with your parent friends when their other halves can babysit and get together as a group to exercise.
- Hire a football pitch (if you can get enough of you) for a kick about, or even go to the park for one? Or a Netball court!
- A load of you going to do a body conditioning or aerobics class together?
- Maybe hire an expert in something to teach a group of you how to do something you’ve always fancied trying but never got round to? Rowing, martial arts, horse riding, etc?
- Hire a tennis court.
- Join a club or group. There’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure to make you try harder.
- Spend your monthly gym membership on a session per month with a personal trainer. There’s no rule that says you have to see a PT twice a week. Seeing a good one, even less often, can help push you, stop your fitness plateauing, correct your technique, give you new ideas, help your diet and give you the kick up the a**e you might need.
Food tip of the week
If you make anything with mince such as bolognese, shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, etc, make a bit extra (remembering to buy slightly more mince than your recipe needs) and save it for the kids the next day. If they’re little, don’t add any salt to it when you make it (or chili for that matter!) so that it’s ok for them. You can always add salt to it on the plate.
Then, boil up a mixture of veg – I normally do broccoli, carrots, peas and sweetcorn – drain the veg and mash it up a bit (doesn’t have to be mashed really well), then stir it in to the mince you’ve put by and hey presto, you’ve got a tasty, meaty, veg filled, saucy snack for the kids the next day. My one year old can’t get enough of it. Just warm it gently in the microwave and it’s a healthy, balanced meal.
Fact of the week
Sweden invented the comb, with the first ones dating back to 2500 BC.