You may have spent every evening in the gym, had tons of energy, and plenty of time for yourself a few months ago. Becoming a dad can feel like that all comes to an end. The sleepless nights, early mornings and just having to care for another human being means that your own health and fitness end up way down the list of priorities.
Max Whitlock MBE knows as well as most that balancing a demanding workout schedule with being a dad can be difficult. As a five-time Olympic medallist and 6-time world medallist in artistic gymnastics, he works hard to stay at peak physical fitness all while caring for his baby daughter, Willow, with his wife, Leah.
With the World Championships in October and the Olympics next summer, Max’s training is ramping up, but he still manages to make time for his family. In fact, he’s got it so right, he’s releasing a book in January called The Whitlock Workout for bodyweight workouts you can do anywhere.
Here’s a few tips from Max on fitness for busy dads.
Use that positive energy
First off, you’re a lucky guy – you’ve got a family who loves and depends on you. Having a child is a life-changing experience that will help you grow too. Here’s how Max sees it.
“It’s literally the best thing in the world. I think it has put a lot of things into perspective and it’s helped me learn to balance everything.
It’s made me, I’d say, even more positive and also means when I’ve had a bad session, when I come home, Willow forces that distraction. People were saying before that it could have been a worry, or that it could have an impact, but I’ve never seen it like that and it’s been great.”
Approaching a challenge with a positive attitude will help you to find a solution (and make your partner much more likely to help…) so you can squeeze in a bit of you time.
You’re not “too busy”
“I think you can always fit it in no matter how busy you are. People think that they won’t be able to fit it into the day because they think about doing an hour or longer.
You can just do a quick workout, even if it’s just 10 minutes, that’s something you can fit in. A little bit is better than nothing, so getting it in where you can is easily done.”
Sometimes, you’ve got to find a way to fit in a workout with kids in tow too.
“I’ve actually gone into the gym with Willow because Leah’s had to go off and do something. The gym’s sociable and it’s good for her to be there as well so she can see me training. She loves it to be honest. “
Get the family involved
Can’t make it out to the gym? It’s easy enough to say that you can make time for short workouts, but how can you actually do this? Max is ready with the answer…
“Willow loves watching us do things, so she finds it hilarious when I’m jumping about or doing anything like that. You can always get your family involved and that’s something that’s good for them as well. It also makes it really easy to fit it into your daily routine. There’s so many things you can do — it’s just about thinking outside the box sometimes.”
Max’s new book has plenty of ideas for working out in your front room, so stick baby on the mat next to you and give some bodyweight training a try. Fancy a challenge? Try a park run while pushing the buggy!
Share the load
Bringing up a baby is a big task to tackle on your own, so share the load with your partner or family. Working effectively as a team can give you both time to yourselves to get active, or just relax.
Max explains, “Sleep for me has always been a huge thing as it’s one of the best things for recovery. I’ve always been used to averaging 10-11 hours a night, which is amazing. Now you have to get up a couple of times, but it’s not too much really. We’ll just quickly go and see her and check she’s alright and then she’s back to sleep, but that’s obviously still broken sleep.
We share it so that if I have a competition the next day, Leah will get up in the night. I guess it’s about finding that balance and working together with the situation to make it positive.”
Although it can be a struggle sometimes, Max believes it’s important to find balance between what you need to do and what you want to do.
“I think it’s important to make time for everything. What you do outside of training, or work is as important as what you do in training. I don’t even like to refer to parenting as hard work, but obviously it does come with its challenges, but it’s had a hugely positive impact on my sport and on my training.”
So, dads — get out there, whether it’s with or without your kids. Not only does staying active keep you happy, but it makes you a pretty great role model too.
Check out Max in the World Championships starting on 4th October for some serious inspiration to get moving.
Get hold of his book packed with flexible workouts for busy parents, out in January 2020.