You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “kids are like sponges” — they take in everything and are constantly learning from the people and environments around them. Parents and caregivers are often their first role models and the habits they demonstrate early on can significantly influence a child’s behavior down the road.
“Children are creatures of habit, and we as parents are their biggest examples,” explains Jamaal Sanderson, father of two and class experience lead at Life Time in Charlotte, N.C. “Whatever they see us do, they tend to think, ‘If mommy and daddy do this, it must be good for me to do too.’”
This is the reason Sanderson is so purposeful about exemplifying and involving his kids in exercise from a young age. “Children are constantly moving, trying to figure out what their bodies are capable of,” Sanderson says. “As long as we don’t force it, I feel like it’s never too early to include them in exercise. I remember waking up every morning as a child and seeing my mother do workouts on the TV. After a while, I started joining her — and now fitness is my career.”
While family movement is a passion for Sanderson — who you can find on Instagram @FitMrMom — he recognizes that the day-to-day is not always easy to juggle as a parent.
“I gave myself that handle because, at the time, my wife was working full-time, I was living out my dream of being in the fitness industry, and we couldn’t afford child care,” shares Sanderson. “Thankfully, where I worked had an area for the kids. I remember one time rushing out of the house with my daughter, Mackenzie, to teach my first class at that gym — and I forgot my spin shoes. As I walked into class, someone said, ‘You’re the spin instructor and you don’t have spin shoes?’ I replied, ‘It was either spin shoes or my daughter and the diaper bag — I think I made the right choice.’”
For movement you can fit in with your kiddos anywhere and at any time, Sanderson shared this workout that he and his kids, ages 5 and 7, often do together. It’s great for families with kids of all ages, with easy-to-do moves that are fun, interactive, and split into simple-to-follow blocks.
Complete the exercises in each block for the recommended sets or time, then rest as needed before moving on to the next block.
|Lunge Pulse||30 seconds each leg||2 to 3|
|Jump Squat||30 seconds|
- Assume a lunge position: Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Step forward with one foot, keeping your shoulders upright and squared over your hips. Allow both knees to bend, with your back knee hovering above the floor, and your front knee positioned behind your toes.
- Sink your hips to the ground to reach your lowest achievable lunge.
- Allow your body to perform quick bounces at this position, moving up and down through your legs. Your feet should remain on the ground throughout the entire motion.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- Assume an athletic stance, feet about hip width distance apart.
- Squat down as low as you comfortably can, keeping both heels planted on the ground. Then, driving your arms forward and upward with one explosive movement, jump as high as you can.
- Land softly, with your toes hitting the ground first, then ball, then heel. Upon landing, squat down and immediately jump again.
Make it easier: Remove the jump and instead go from a low squat into a calf raise.
|Glute Bridge||8 reps||3 minutes (as many rounds as you can complete)|
|Bicycle Crunches||16 reps|
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. From this position, engage your core, press your back into the floor, and begin squeezing your glutes.
- Keep your glutes engaged as you press your glutes up to the point where your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Hold for one to two seconds, continuing to squeeze your glutes.
- Slowly reverse the movement, continuing to squeeze your glutes as you return to the floor.
- Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight. Place your hands behind your head.
- Engage your core to raise your shoulder blades off the ground, keeping your gaze at the ceiling. Lift your legs off the floor, bending your knees to 90-degree angles.
- Slowly pedal your legs in the air in opposite motions, bringing the elbow of your opposite arm to meet the opposite knee.
|Alternating Lunge/Squat||As many reps as possible in 1 minute||2|
|Mountain Climbers||As many reps as possible in 30 seconds||2|
- Complete a lunge: Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Step forward with one foot, keeping your shoulders upright and squared over your hips. Allow both knees to bend, with your back knee hovering just above the floor, and your front knee positioned in line with your middle toe. Reverse the movement by pressing through your heel and stepping your front foot back to the starting position.
- Move immediately into a squat: Stand with your feet about hip width apart and planted firmly on the ground. Brace your core, and, with control, bend your knees and hips to squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the ground. Press your feet to stand up.
- Move immediately back into a lunge, this time on your opposite leg.
- Assume a high-plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders; your body should form a straight line.
- Engage your core and drive one knee toward your chest.
- Return your raised foot to the ground and simultaneously drive your opposite knee forward.
- Repeat, alternating sides.
|Sit-Up Into Jab/Cross||8 reps||2 to 3|
|Oblique Twist||16 reps|
|High Plank||1 minute||1|
Sit-Up Into Jab/Cross
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Have your partner sit by your feet facing you, palms up.
- Engage your core to raise your shoulders off the ground toward your knees. As you reach the top, lightly “punch” each of your hands to hit your partners’ palms.
- Lower back to the ground with control.
- Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees slightly so your feet are hovering over the ground, engage your core to raise your upper body off the ground, and lean back slightly (at about a 45-degree angle).
- From this position, twist from your torso to turn your head and upper body to one side, balancing on your tailbone, as if you’re going to touch the ground on that side of your body. Return to center before twisting to the opposite side.
- Repeat, alternating twists from side to side. Exhale every time you twist.
- Lie on your stomach on the floor. Place your hands flat on the floor, just below your shoulders. Your feet should be about hip width apart.
- Push through the ground with your forearms, hands, and toes, raising your body up until it forms a straight line.
- Hold this position for one minute.
Make it easier: Drop your knees to the floor instead of balancing on your toes.