Fitness for the Entire Family

Family fitness is not about dragging your kids to the gym to walk on the treadmill next to you. Family Fitness it’s about instilling the values and enjoyment around activities that incorporate movement.

I bring this up because when I first started in the fitness industry I worked at a YMCA out in California. I remember getting trained on how to do equipment orientations. What’s an equipment orientation? Well, it’s a meeting where I would show new members how to get set up and use the machines at the gym.

At that time (2003) we were also doing equipment orientations for kids.  This was not a really good idea.  Functionally the machines were not meant for their little bodies.  I also realized quickly this was not instilling the value of life long exercise and movement.   I felt bad.  I knew the kids were bored during the equipment orientation, I knew they would be bored if they came to use the equipment.  Note to self….Not the way to get the family involved with fitness.

So how do you get the whole family moving?

Make a commitment.   Make a commitment to doing an activity regularly and make a commitment to keeping it FUN!!

Here are 8 different Fun Family Fitness Activities.

Wednesday Night Walks: Every Wednesday go for a walk as a family.   Got pets? Bring them along.  Have a different person lead the walk each week.

Commercial Exercise Breaks: Is there a show that you love to watch as a family? That’s awesome!! But here’s a fun way to make it a little more active. When a commercial comes on you have to do exercises until your show comes back on. Choose jumping jacks, sit ups, planks, bicycles, run to the corner, run some stairs, do a stretch or anything else that seems like fun. Pass around the job to choose exercises during commercials.

Commute for Errands: Yes, it’s easier to just jump in the car. But what if you walked or biked to the store or the post office? Not only is this a great way to get the family together for exercise, it’s also greener.  Try to do this twice a month.

Monthly Adventure Day: Once a month choose a destination outing that includes walking, hiking, or biking. Visit a different state park or find a new trail. Make it an adventure and educational.

Saturday Night Dance Party: It’s pretty self-explanatory. Get as creative as you want, but really all you need is the jams and your best moves. This is a great one to invite friends too.

Holiday Outdoor Games: Holidays and special events are usually about eating. But could you incorporate a fun game of Thanksgiving football, Birthday badminton, Valentine’s Day volleyball or winter snowball fight? Get it started now and make it a tradition.

Bike To Your Favorite Restaurant: If you live close enough to one of your favorite local restaurants, bike there to enjoy a family dinner. Like to picnic? Pack a blanket and your food and bike to the park to enjoy an outdoor dinner date with the family.

Packer Game Exercise: Living in Wisconsin a large majority of backing the Packers. Instead of your butt being glued to your seat during the game, here’s a way to up your calorie burn and movement during game time.


Touch Down 15 Squats
Field Goal 25 Jumping Jacks
First Down 10 Crunches
Extra Point Plank for 60sec
Time Out 12 Side Lunges (6 each side)
Interception 15 Burpees
Sack 15 Squat Jumps
Offside 15 Leg Raises
Beer Commercial 30 High Knee Runs (15 each leg)


Not a football fan? Think about fun ways you can change this workout to work for your favorite sport.

All the activities I mentioned are a great way to implement family fitness into your household. But there is one thing that will make a bigger impression on your family and how they respond to the habit of exercise and movement.


Kids watch what we do. (More than they listen to what we say). If you value and make exercise a priority, there is a good chance that they will do it to. No need to shove information down their throats. Just make exercise part of your life and they’ll follow your example.

I know some of you are groaning right now, “I don’t have time to exercise”. With a full time job, household responsibilities, family activities and sleeping and eating your day is very full. But I have a solution for you!

You just need to exercise 15 minutes a day. This is a great place to start and I know you can carve out 15 minutes for yourself. (Remember, YOU time is important) If you do 15 minutes every day, they equates to an hour and 45 minutes each week. That’s probably more than you are doing now and that is a win!

When I was 6 weeks post partum, I was very tired. So I made this commitment to 15 minutes of exercise every day. I knew that I could fit this in and make exercise a consistent habit again. It also gave me the flexibility to “get it in” when I could “get it in”. So if I got up when everyone else was still sleeping, I’d head down to my workout space and workout for 15 minutes. Another day, it would be during naptime. And sometimes, it would be right before bedtime.

So here are my tips to set you up for 15-minute workout success:

  • Create a designated workout space for yourself. Yes, you need a special space that you will visit each time you workout. This will help your body know it’s time to workout and you’ll take it seriously. Have your mat and any equipment you need in this space. Let others in your household know that this is YOUR exercise space.
  • Download a tabata app on your phone or purchase a gymboss timer. This is an easy way to have a work/rest timer with alarms. You will know when to start and when to stop without having your eyes glued to a stopwatch.
  • Set your phone timer for 15 minutes. You won’t have to watch the clock to know when your 15 minutes is done. Your alarm will let you know that you are done.
  • Get a calendar and keep it in your exercise space. Commit to getting to your workout space every day and marking an “X” on your calendar when you complete your 15 minutes of exercise. See how many days you can complete in a month. Shoot for 90%!! (That’s still an A)
  • When you start, choose exercises you know. Keep it simple and keep it consistent. Once you are comfortable in the routine, you’ll get excited to incorporate new exercises. But to give you a headstart, I am giving you 3 – 15 minute workouts.

The 5 for 3 Workouts

This is based on my 5 for 5-exercise circuit (Remember I used to work at Arby’s) where you do 5 rounds of 5 exercises. Instead we’ll choose 5 exercises and do 3 rounds.

Set your timer to 40 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest.

Here’s how to choose exercises. Do an upper body exercise followed by a lower body exercise. Do an upper body exercise followed by a lower body exercise. The final exercise can be an exercise to work your core.

Here are some body weight exercises. As you progress, building a habit and strength, then change up the exercises to include some dumbbells.

Pushups (wall, knees or toes)
Wall Sit
Standing scapular protracting and retraction
Prisoner Squats

When you complete 3 rounds you’ll be done with 15 minutes.

Here’s a video to see how it’s done:

The Sore Core and Legs Workout

This workout will focus on your stomach and lower body. It will also contain multiple circuits.   Like the above circuit, I am only doing body weight. But by all means, once you feel ready please incorporate dumbbells.

Circuit #1: 35 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. Complete 2 rounds of Circuit #1.

Quick Step Ups with the Right Leg
Side Lying Leg Raises with the Right Leg
Side Plank Hold
Do the Other Side
Circuit #2: 35 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. Complete 2 rounds of Circuit #2.

Single Leg Hip Bridge Right Leg
Single Side V-Up Right Arm to the Left Leg
Extended Cat Hold Right Arm and Left Leg
Do the Other Side

 Here’s a video to see how to do the exercises:

All Arms and Abs Workout

This workout will focus on your stomach and upper body. It will also contain multiple circuits.   Like the other circuits, I am only doing body weight exercises. When you’re ready, add some dumbbells.

Circuit #1: 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Complete 10 rounds of Circuit #1.

Plank Marches

Circuit #2: 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Complete 5 rounds of Circuit #2

Seated No Weight Row
V-Up Hold with arms held straight out to sides
(Try not to bring arms down during this circuit)

Circuit #3: 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Complete 5 rounds of Circuit #3
Mini Lateral Arm Raises – FAST
Knee Hugs

Here’s how to do the exercises:

What about a warm up and cool down? Listen, I’m just keeping it simple. My goal is that I want you to G.I.D. GET IT DONE!! As you progress down exercise lane, we can get all fancy with different exercise modalities.

Why not exercise videos? When it comes to workout DVD”s, the actually DVD’s are so hard to put into the DVD player that often is the limiting factor to getting the workout done. Plus, after the 6th time doing the video, you’re already bored.

If you want to use the dreadmill…I mean the treadmill for your 15 minutes, make sure to do intervals. This will not only make your workout better, but it will make the time go by faster. When you start, keep it simple by alternating walking fast or on an incline for 1 minute followed by a recovery minute of easy or flat terrain walking.

If you are still struggling on your own, hire a coach or join an exercise group.  Nothing can match the accountability, expertise and support of a high qualified professional and workout buddies.  And guess what?  What you learn from your coach, you can teach your family!!