Are you a parent who loves going to the gym? If so, you are setting an excellent example for your toddler. It shows them you are committed to staying healthy, and you are following a structured plan to remain healthy.
These are some of the most impressionable years in your toddler’s life. Taking them with you to experience new surroundings is like a personalized field-trip. The gym can be one of the ‘mini’ (many), such as field trips.
Some parents spend time worrying about leaving the child with someone while they workout. Don’t be a parent like those. Embrace taking your child wherever you go. Look for ways to include your child instead of leaving them.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of taking a toddler to the gym. And let’s also look at some ways to prepare the child for the adventure!
Contact The Gym
So you have decided you will take your toddler along on your next gym trip. Before you rush out and buy the little one a pair of sweats and some tiny cross-training sneakers, contact the gym.
Let them know you will be bringing a toddler and if it’s okay to do so. You could also do your homework and find a gym that welcomes children and commit to their membership.
Some gyms provide facilities for children. It may be a pure-play area, or it could be structured with a certified athletic trainer proficient in teaching children about exercising. You want a gym that will welcome you and your toddler.
You need to go with the kid-friendly gym. Don’t just decide to take the child with you and be turned away because they don’t allow children. What!? Someone who doesn’t allow children? They have no idea what they are missing!
Those gyms are run by overweight grumpy older men named Bruno. Bruno has a cigar fixed firmly in his jaw. Your child would be terrified anyway.
A quick internet search will more than likely solve the issue. Another good tip is to go with a trusted name. These people didn’t become well known for turning little angels away.
Preparing the Toddler
A gym may be a frightening place for a toddler. If mom and dad are really into staying fit, they may try a few at-home workouts.
Working out at home lets the toddler see you in gym mode. Perhaps you have a treadmill, a stationary bike or other equipment. Allow your child to see you using your equipment and explain what you are doing.
Have your spouse or another person with you to carefully keep an eye on the child. The toddler doesn’t need to be left unattended around your gym equipment.
Just expose the child to what you are doing, make them a part of it, and enjoy the experience.
Also, when you are ready to go to the gym, pack like a sherpa going up Mt. Everest. Accidents happen, so bring the proper ‘gym equipment’ for the toddler as well.
Condition the child for the gym trip. No, not muscle conditioning. The same type of conditioning as with any other new experience.
You can use the multitude of gym videos on YouTube to show your child and expose them beforehand. Also, if the gym does have a program for small children, they may be able to suggest some videos for your child.
Proper preparation and proper conditioning is an excellent way to approach anything in your toddler’s life. Combine your awesome parenting skills, and you have a recipe for success—gym trip or otherwise.
Don’t be surprised if your toddler starts wanting to go with you when you workout! Who knows the smallest person in your home may be your biggest reason for going to the gym!
Bring a Friend
Remember, when you get to the gym, the toddler will be separated from you. Will your child be okay with mom or dad not being around? Or will they scream until you pick them up? Or will you hear, “would the parent of the hysterical child, please come to get them!”
Try getting in touch with another parent with a toddler and make it a play date situation. Take along someone who the toddler is familiar with and comfortable with. Have a few at-home play dates to introduce the tiny workout gurus to each other.
If your child embraces the presence of the other child, they might just be too occupied to care. Be crafty about how you get these two toddlers together. You do not want your child to associate the presence of the other child with being away from you. It is supposed to be a fun-time.
Also, ask the gym if there is a class specifically for toddlers and parents. You can ease the child into the environment and later ease them into being left with the attendant.
Once your workout is complete, reward the toddler, some parents might view a reward program with bribing or buying the child. Not true. Reward yourself as well. You work hard at staying fit and trim.
There is nothing wrong with taking yourself and the toddler for a treat afterward. Now don’t include ingesting a half-gallon of Ben-n-Jerry’s as a reward. Be smart and get a healthy treat.
Take a trip to a local yogurt shop or a smoothie bar. Reward your efforts and the child’s behavior healthily! You both deserve it!
Hopefully, you feel a bit better about taking your toddler to the gym. And hopefully, you have found a compatible gym for your toddler.
Your child is at an age where everything is a learning experience. Now you have introduced him or her to the whole new world of the local gym. If you have prepared accordingly, you will have earned yourself another parenting badge.
And if the experience was a bit shaky, then you have something to work on. As always, work on giving lots of love and affection.