One of my most cherished memories from my childhood was playing ball with my father in the front yard after dinner every night. When my wife had our first child a few months after my 30th birthday, I vowed to create similar moments for my son.
This did not seem like much of a challenge since we were an active couple already. We played sand volleyball in the summer, flag football in the fall, and indoor volleyball during the winter months. Kids tend to change your priorities, though. We had our daughter a few years later and those evenings on the courts were replaced with evenings on the couch. When we were blessed with our third (and final) child, the only “exercise” I was getting came from a few hours of coaching each week. I had let the challenges of being a parent, working and getting older get the best of me.
It was becoming evident to me that I would not be able to build those memories with my children if I didn’t change my ways. My 40th birthday was creeping on the horizon. I realized that if I didn’t take control, I never would. The nerd in me quickly turned to technology for the answer. I began running a few times a week. Using an app to track my progress helped to keep me motivated. It’s been nine months and I’m in the best shape of my life.
Summer is here. Time to put the excuses on the shelf and get yourself to a better place for yourself and your kids! Trying to figure out where to start can be a daunting task in itself. Technology can help, but there are over 250,000 health and fitness apps on the App Store alone. Here are a few apps that helped me along the way.
Couch to 5k
This program is designed to get someone off the couch and ready to run a 5k in eight weeks. Think of it as running for beginners. The app takes you through progressions to get your body in shape to compete in a 5k. The workouts average 30-40 minutes, including a light warm-up. It gets you out and gets you moving. The couch to 5k program might just be what you need to make exercise a part of your weekly routine. Couch to 5k is something you can do with your kids, as well. It is working toward getting in shape while spending time with someone who surely has the energy to keep up with you. Regardless of your ultimate goal, this is an excellent starting point. There are several apps that offer a variation of this program. I prefer the “C25k 5K Trainer” app from “Couch Potato to Running 5k.” It’s free, has a simple interface, and is very easy to follow.
30 Day Fitness Challenge
Here’s another app with a gradual progression style approach to getting fitness. 30 Day Fitness Challenge provides you with step by step workout routines to achieve realistic results by asking 10 simple questions during setup to help determine your current level of fitness and establish your goals. The result is a personalized weekly workout plan. Each exercise includes a short video demonstration and instructions to ensure proper form and execution while avoiding injury. The pacing is structured so that workouts increase in intensity based on your results. 30 Day Fitness begins with an initial free trial week to get you started. The app charges a weekly fee of $4.99 after the free week is complete. Weekly payments are not ideal; however, it is more affordable than most gyms, and the app gives you personalization that you would typically only get from a personal trainer.
Not everyone is willing to pay a monthly fee for an app. A great alternative solution is Fitbod. Similar to 30 Day Fitness Challenge, the Fitbod app uses artificial intelligence to create workouts specific to you. You’ll need to answer a few setup questions to get started. The more you use the app, the better it becomes at developing a workout routine that will push your limits and meet your goals. Fitbod is designed for those looking to add muscle, so the app doesn’t include any cardio programs. You might want to pair this app with Couch to 5k to get the best of both worlds.
NEOU (pronounced “new you”) takes a different approach to fitness, providing its users with access to a community of well known, high-quality fitness instructors from all over the world. These elite trainers have designed hundreds of workouts that can be accessed on demand. Scroll through the app, find a workout that seems appealing and read the reviews before you start. You can choose from boxing, yoga, dance, fat burning, and lots of other categories and concepts. Think of it like Netflix for fitness. NEOU also offers live classes, if you prefer. Stream the workouts from your phone, SmartTV, or tablet. NEOU is more expensive than the others listed above due to the quality of the content and classes you are receiving. There is a free trial available, so check it out before committing.
Getting in shape can become very arduous quite quickly if you are not prepared. For example, a two-mile jog can feel like 10 miles if you don’t have something to listen to. Music lovers should look at purchasing a subscription to Spotify or Apple Music to help with the monotony of a run. Pandora is free, but the commercials are annoying mid-workout. Podcasts and audiobooks are fantastic options for those people looking to work their brain as well as their body. A great story can make the time go by incredibly fast.
You’ll want to invest in a good pair of wireless headphones, as well. Apple Airpods are incredible if you don’t mind the high cost. There are quite a few similar wireless options that are more affordable. Search wireless earbuds on Amazon to see your options.
Get Moving Together
The focus of this column was to help you, as parents, find a path to fitness. Bring your children on this journey with you. Doing these workouts together can be a fun bonding experience. The kids will get excited about watching you progress through the app, almost like playing a video game. You also are instilling in them the importance of staying in shape at a young age.
The results of your hard work will pay off quickly in your overall attitude and how you feel about yourself. There are so many positive results that can come from going down this road. In my opinion, this is a win-win for everyone in the family.
Mike Daugherty is a husband, father of three young children, author, speaker, Google Innovator, and possible Starbucks addict. He is a certified educational technology leader who has served in a variety of roles through his 18-year career in public education. Currently, Mike is the director of technology for the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School district in Northeast Ohio. His blog, More Than A Tech, offers advice and ideas for parenting in a digital world.