When we think of family activities picnics, a beach day, or a movie night come to mind. But what about considering the idea of doing exercise together as a family?
Bringing your kids to the gym (as long as they are old enough and mature enough to understand instructions) is a good way for them to see you being active (positive role modelling) and for them to discover and try various types of fitness equipment.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that youth do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Make getting outside for activity your first choice! But when the weather is bad, or if the gym is already part of your regular routine, going to the gym as a family for exercise is a great option.
To get started, visit your local recreation centre. If you choose to visit a private center, it may be worthwhile contacting the management ahead of time to ask if there is an age limit for patrons.
It will most likely be the first time your kids go to the gym, so teach them the basics. Set a good example on how to best use the weight machines, free weights, and cardio machines by using gym etiquette. If you, yourself are unsure on how to use a piece of equipment or do an exercise, ask a staff member.
Not sure whether weight lifting is safe for kids? In a supervised and progressive setting, kids can do weight lifting. Get safety tips and more information here.
Here are some tips to keep things interesting for your kids:
- Make the first few outings about creating a positive experience and learning. This will set up your kids to feel confident in their abilities.
- Do exercises together. For example, if possible use side by side spin bikes. Or go to a weight station and one of you can provide encouragement and guidance while the other one lifts.
- Do mat work together. Try stretches, core exercises and balance exercises.
- Consider going at non-peak times. Gyms are usually pretty busy during lunch time, after work and in the evenings. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon may be a quieter time for your session.
The gym is just one option for your kids to be active. Introducing your children to a variety of activities is always best. Read more about why kids should try many different physical activities.
Talk to the Qualified Exercise Professionals at Healthlink BC if you have questions or would like help designing an exercise program. Call 8-1-1 or click here.