Who Are You Inspiring?

At Highland Park Life Time in Minnesota, where I train my clients, I see a plethora of people motivated to achieve their goals. While their goals (releasing body fat, building more muscle fiber, speed development) may vary from person to person, one thing is consistent with all of the individuals, hard work. Depleting glycogen in order to release body fat is hard work. Eccentric training in order to build muscle fiber is hard work. Sprinting specific distances with specific recovery times is hard work. And so on...

While many of my clients have specific individual goals, if they are parents, they have an additional goal; long term health to be there for their children. Parents pour their energy into HIT (High Intensity Training), lifting to momentary muscle failure. They push themselves harder than they have ever been pushed before. In other words, while achieving their goals and striving for a long life to be there for their children, they are putting in a lot of hard work to be healthy.

It is quite admirable for parents to put in so much effort in their health for the good of their children. Unfortunately, many of the children never see their parents workout hard. Keep in mind, children model their parent’s behaviors. Let's use breakfast as an example:

According to statisticbrain.com, the percentage of parents who eat breakfast with their children is 79%. Coincidentally, the percentage of school children who eat breakfast regularly is 80%. If children imitate what their parents do, why don't parents include their children with their workouts?

As a personal trainer, I workout 6 days a week. I train at the club lifting weights, sprints, etc. 5 days a week. On the weekend, I do one simple but challenging workout that my children can participate in with me. Sometimes they workout with me for the entire duration and sometimes they will stop to watch and cheer me on. If I perform sprints in my backyard, my children try to race me and see if they can keep up. On one occasion, I was doing the 200 burpee challenge as fast as I could. My 7-year-old son was watching me and cheering me on. He would give me advice, when he thought I should drink some BCAA (Branch Chained Amino Acids) or if I should take a minor break. When I was struggling with the final 60 burpees, his leadership flourished forth. He said he would do a burpee me for every 10 I would do. The final 20 burpees, he did everyone with me. He understood how hard the workout was and wanted to help me persevere so he did what he could do to provide that inspiration. While I am focusing on accomplishing my goals, I am also trying to model myself for children that working out is hard work and very challenging. My children love to workout with me. They find it fun, challenging, and love any chance of beating their dad at something.

On a Saturday in April of 2016, I wanted to really inspire my son. I wanted him to not just witness me working out but other people as well. I brought him to the Life Time Alpha Challenge. The Alpha Challenge consists of functional movements (squatting, lunging, bending, pushing, pulling), that are properly progressed at varied intensities.

The Alpha Challenge workout that day consisted of a 24 calorie row (rowing machine similar to rowing a boat), 12 hand release push-ups, and 24 kettle bell swings. The challenge was to perform as many rounds as possible in a 7-minute running clock. I had practiced the challenge prior to the event so I knew it took me approx 55 seconds to burn 24 calories on the row. To accommodate my 7 year old, I had him row for 55 seconds to determine his caloric number, 10. Now we were both were on an even playing field for the challenge.

I asked my son if he wanted to perform at separate times or compete against each other. Without a doubt, he wanted to compete against me. While I started off with a lead, in the end, my son had completed 3 rounds and was about to start his 4th round when the time expired. I, however, was 14 kettle bell swings short of finishing my 3rd round. He had beaten me. He challenged himself harder than he would have at home. Coincidentally, I challenged myself even harder since he was there too! I did not want to lose to my son. At the end, we hugged each other and said how awesome each other performed. While we drank our recovery drinks, we watched the other athletes perform. Everyone at all different fitness levels performed with the same enthusiasm as everyone else. Some were faster than other but everyone had one thing in common. Everyone worked hard.

I was so happy to see my son witness the effort level it takes to become the best!

What are you to do?

Incorporate your children in your workouts. Even if they cannot participate, have them witness the workout. Seeing how hard it is to perform is beneficial for children to see. Seeing results from workouts is hard work. Show them how to persevere. You may be surprised how their leadership may flourish and provide inspiration for you to keep performing. Besides, you aren't just trying to inspire yourself; you're trying to inspire something more important... your children!


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

Email: szahn@lifetimefitness.com