After his second heart trouble scare and stint of cardiac rehabilitation, Larry Gordon was determined to remain healthy and fit for his wife and three kids. So when the Ravenswood Manor resident needed extra motivation to wake up at 5 a.m. for Galter LifeCenter’s boot camp, he turned to his daughter Elana, a high school freshman.
Elana figured she’d go to one class with her dad and that would be it.
Instead, the two had so much fun sweating together that they ended up going to the class every week for four years, until Elana finished high school.
Today, Gordon is still motivated and goes to the class on his own.
“Once my dad signed up for boot camp, all of our family activities started to be active – long bike rides, running together, hiking and yoga classes.” said Elana, now 21 and a kinesiology major at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The Gordons are not the only local family working out together.
Galter LifeCenter trainer and group exercise instructor Caitlin McGrath said she is seeing more parent-teen (and younger) duos working out in group fitness classes, on the cardio and strength machines, and at local races. She applauds the trend.
“Kids see how beneficial exercise is to their parents so they make it a part of their routine, too, especially kids who aren’t already involved in sports,” McGrath said. “When you see your mom and dad working out, you learn that exercise is something you can do forever. “
McGrath grew up going to the gym with her dad, and can attest that it is also a bonding experience.
"Working out with my dad influenced me to go into the health and wellness field and to exercise in general,” McGrath said. “The father/daughter relationships I see at Galter LifeCenter remind me so much of my own experience growing up. Time spent with a loved one while doing something that helps you get fitter and live longer is priceless.”
Larry Gordon agrees, explaining that that exercising together has brought him closer to his children. It also started a new family tradition, with everyone gathering on Thanksgiving weekend to do Chicago’s annual Turkey Trot.
“Any time you can spend quality time with your kids is about as good as life gets,” he said. “On our runs we talk about almost anything – work and school, the future, what’s going on at home. There’s no tension because you’re working it out as you run.”
Larry Saint Germain got involved in McGrath’s boot camp courses when his daughter Marissa urged him to sign up two-and-a-half years ago. Today, he’s 50 pounds lighter and also regularly participates in local races with Marissa, 21, and his son Tyler, 18.
At races Marissa (also a kinesiology major, but this time at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) said that she and her dad often cross the finish line side-by-side.
“We like to have the picture of us finishing together,” Marissa said. “We like to have that support system the whole way.”
Tips for successful family workouts
From Galter LifeCenter personal trainer Caitlin McGrath:
• Pick a class that you and your kids can do together but at your own pace. Indoor cycling, yoga and group kickboxing, for example, can be modified to be easier or more intense for each participant.
• To increase interaction with your kids and keep things fun, pick a class such as Bosu or boot camp that has lots of partner work, like running around the track, tossing the medicine ball back and forth, or using bands together.
• As a new member, take advantage of meeting with GLC’s fitness specialists to determine your goals and what activities you and your kids can do together.
• Don’t confine exercise to the gym. Go for bike rides, walks or runs with your children. With younger kids, run alongside them as they bike, or walk together through parks and neighborhoods.
• Enter races together. Many local runs and triathlons have kids’ versions and your child will get to experience the excitement and accomplishment of racing.
• If you’re in the gym, don’t just plop your child on a machine. Especially when they’re younger they need a goal or circuit to keep exercise fun and stimulating.