How Being Active With My Daughter Changed Our Relationship For The Better

My earliest memory of exercise was watching my mom take an aerobics class back in the late 80s. I remember standing by the door, holding my doll, watching my mom walk away in her leotard and spandex shorts, wishing I had my own fabulous outfit and could work out along with her.

From afar, working out seemed so sophisticated and adult — I couldn’t wait until the day I could be just like my mom. If it weren't for my mom and her spandex and sweatbands, I probably wouldn’t have jumped into the world of fitness as eagerly as I did.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, sharing my love of being active with her has always been always at the top of my list. We started out strong, attending mommy and me yoga classes and going for daily stroller runs along the East River. And when we ditched the city for the suburbs, working out with DVDs in my empty dining room was always a good activity to kill the time.

My daughter Evie had her little yoga mat and a matching one for her doll, too. It was precious, we were having fun, I was kind of getting a workout in (with a million interruptions, but something is always better than nothing!). But as life got more hectic and she started school, being active together fell by the wayside. She had her own tennis lessons, dance classes, and playdates to keep her occupied.

Then I had another baby and Evie had to start sharing her personal time with me with her baby brother. It seemed like there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and be 100 percent present when I was doing things like playing tea party and nursing a newborn simultaneously.

When I got the OK from my doctor to start working out again, I’d sneak in little nuggets of time on the treadmill in our basement. Sometimes I’d catch Evie peering around the corner watching me. I was gutted — she wanted to be with me, and in that moment I was reminded that 'mom guilt' is a real thing. Even though working out was important to my health, exercising solo meant that I had less time to spend with my daughter.

The next time I decided to pop in a workout DVD I wanted to invite my daughter to do it with me. Seeing me come downstairs dressed in my workout clothes, though, she beat me to it.

“Mommy, can I work out with you too?” she said.

“I was just thinking the same thing!” I told her.

“Well, I don’t have any clothes to put on like your pretty outfit,” she said, with a bit of a pout.

So we went to Athleta to get some new activewear, just for her. She ended up picking out these fun capris and this tee, and my grade-school self was giddy seeing how many options are available for girls in 2019!

And my daughter kept up with me during my half hour workout. While I was barely able to get through the whole thing, she was giggling and screeching from all the “fun” we were having. Although I was most definitely getting my workout on, I was able to simultaneously spend quality — active! — time with my little girl.

Besides our shenanigans in the world of workout DVDs, we spend our family time taking ski lessons together, playing outside, and going back to our favorite, #SundayRunday. This used to mean my husband and I would push our daughter in the stroller while she yelled “faster, faster” at us.

However, now that she has her own matching sneakers and can keep up, she runs with us while we push her baby brother along for the ride. I know these are the building blocks for not only a healthy future, but also for what I hope will be a lifelong love of fitness — one that she will remember fondly when she thinks about all the special times we had together growing up.

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This post is sponsored by Athleta.