Work out as a family

Before I had kids, people warned me that “they” watch everything you do. 

I didn’t quite believe it until I had my two girls. 

Fast forward nine years later and I have two sets of feet following me everywhere — in the bathroom, when I’m in the shower, when I’m on the phone and, of course, while I’m watching my favorite television show.

Our influence, I’ve realized, goes far beyond teaching them how to treat people and complete their homework. 

They’re watching us to see what we think about fitness, nutrition and body image. And that’s powerful.

With childhood obesity rates tripling in the last 30 years, parents find themselves adding inactivity and weight issues to their laundry list of worries for their kids. 

But how do you get your kids moving and eating healthful meals without nagging or making it another thing they have to do?


After being a fitness expert for 18 years and then becoming a parent myself, I’ve discovered there’s only one mindset that works — and this applies to parents and kids: Working out to fix your body or because you don’t like what you see never works long term. 

Working out because you love your body and you want to take care of it does. Being fit isn’t just about your body fat, muscles or a number on the scale. 

It’s about celebrating strength milestones, giving yourself credit for even small steps of progress and allowing yourself to screw up and jump back on your goals without guilt. 


We often try to shield our kids from how we’re really feeling, especially when it comes to our bodies. 

But those comments you make about your body not measuring up aren’t lost in translation: Those types of pants, you say, don’t look good on you. You don’t like your arms in that dress. You “need to lose weight.” 

Those comments eventually become the thoughts that enter their heads about themselves. 


Fortunately, it’s never too late to change your body-image mantra.

You can even do it as a family. In fact, you should.

How do we do it? We workout together as a family. 

How many times has your child asked you to sit down and play with her, but you’ve been busy with grown-up life? 

Kids actually welcome the idea to put down the iPad and play with their parents — and that’s how you present your family workout! We call ours the “Holman Olympics.” 

We carve out 20 minutes where we’re active together as a family. That might mean setting up a timed obstacle course in the house where the kids compete against Mom and Dad or we might create a swingset challenge if the weather’s nice. 

You can make fitness fun and a cool way to spend time together as a family. 

Like anything with kids, it’s all about how you “sell” the idea. Instead of saying, “Time to workout,” say, “Guess what? It’s time for our Family Olympics, and I have the most fun obstacle course planned for us. What about a Parents vs. Kids Challenge?” 

You might be surprised how excited they get about fitness when you’re excited about it as well.

Ali Holman is a Maple Grove mother of two and owner of, where she and her husband offer daily 20-minute online workouts. She is the on-air fitness expert for WCCO TV (CBS) and Twin Cities Live (ABC). Contact her at


How to set up a Family Olympics

Create special stations throughout your home and then time each team. Go for a Parents vs. Kids battle, if possible.

1. Run up and down the stairs three times.

2. With your arms stretched straight up above your head, stand, then sit in a chair 20 times. 

3. Bear crawl (on all fours with knees not touching the ground) from one end of a large room to another.

4. Do 10 pushups.

5. Do seal drags across a large room. 

(Put your feet on paper plates and walk your body across room on your hands with your arms straight.)