Between changing diapers, feedings and running around from one task to another, most parents hardly have any downtime — let alone the time to squeeze in a workout.
But Courtney Schofield, a 28-year-old paramedic from Panama City Beach, Fla., has found a practical way to find time for fitness and her kids: the playground workout.
Schofield first shared her workout routine with Women’s Health last week. It’s an exercise model she started in the summer of 2016.
“When we first got here we were living on the Navy base, and going to the gym on the base was always such a hassle. I could only [go] when my husband was home to watch the kids, and at that time it was packed,” she tells Global News.
“We were living close to the marina which had a really nice park, and working out while the kids played just seem to fit.”
The mom-of-two started posting her videos to Instagram. In one, she can be seen pushing one child on a swing while using another swing to do mountain climbers. In another video, she uses a swing seat to do burpees.
An active lifestyle after children
Growing up as a competitive gymnast and an all-star cheerleader, Schofield says after she had children, her eating habits and workout routine changed. After experimenting with videos of her workouts at the playground, other moms started to notice.
“I had no idea that anyone was going to be interested in our playground workouts, but I am so glad they are. Teaching your children from a young age to eat clean and to live a healthy lifestyle teaches them self-respect and self-worth,” she says.
She says she doesn’t have a set routine at the playground; every workout is different.
“My mind automatically thinks, ‘How can I make this more of a challenge and involve my children at the same time?’ I just think of something and try it.”
Don’t feel pressure
Many parents feel the pressure to get fit after having children, but Bryan O’Conner, personal trainer of Bryan Bootcamp based in Candiac, Que., says mothers in particular should work out at their own pace.
“A healthy mommy is a happy mommy,” he tells Global News. “Take the time to evaluate what is best for you.”
Schofield also advises not to rush it.
“Our body needs time to heal before going back full force in the gym. Over the course of nine months, your body goes through a lot of changes — not only physical, but emotional as well — and it’s important to embrace them and to love yourself along the way.”
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And if you have trouble finding time to work out, ask for help. O’Conner suggests asking family members or close friends to take care of the child a few times a week, or join a gym that offers free daycare.
“During the warmer weather, mothers can take their children for brisk walks in a sports walker and/or on bike rides.”
How to get the children involved
Bear in mind, not every child wants to workout or give parents the time to do it. In this case, O’Conner suggests setting up challenges with your children.
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“I showed my young boys these five-minute challenges, and they are eating them up and loving to have to do burpees, push-ups, squats and the plank every day,” he says.
“When someone in the family is interested in fitness, support from other family members is key for success. Without a solid foundation of support, it will be very difficult to make the time to take care of yourself.”