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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Parental Fitness

Re-listened to Chip Conrad's "How to Create a Holistic Athlete" this morning. It's a fantastic lecture, and it got some stuff going in my brain.

In the lecture, Chip asks a bunch of questions about the why's of fitness. Why do it, what do you mean by it, etc. Perhaps because I was listening while cleaning up and playing with my nine-month old daughter, my brain immediately jumped to "being a good father for my children."

Then my brain started running with the question...what would a fitness program that would make me a better parent actually look like? And, what if I broadened the definition to also include being a better spouse, since I think those two things are intertwined.

What do I do as a father? Well, I pick up a lot of awkward loads. Children. Dogs. Bags of stuff. Sometimes one or more of those things in combination (though never the dog in combination with anything). On an absolute scale, these loads are generally pretty light (rarely over 100 pounds), but they are awkward as hell. My three year-old son weighs about as much as a 16k kettlebell, but carrying the kettlebell is significantly easier, as it stays in one place, never gets upset, and doesn't feel the need to twist suddenly and violently to check out passing trucks. Occasionally, I pick up heavier loads. Furniture, for example.

Almost any time I pick up a load, I have to move it somewhere. Sometimes for short distances, like when my daughter needs to be changed. Sometimes for long distances, like when my son wants to ride on my shoulders while we walk the dog.

Sometimes, I swing and twist these loads around. Because swinging small children is fun for everyone involved. It is also tiring for the adult doing the swinging.

I need to get up and down off the ground a lot. Sometimes with a load, sometimes not.

I put my children over my head, because it is fun. Sometimes, because I am helping my son on the monkey bars. (My crappy shoulder mobility sometimes makes this harder than it should be).

My son occasionally likes to play "catch", which sometimes looks more like dodgeball.

My son has taken to wanting to "run". I put run in quotes, because running with a three-year old requires doing this weird pseudo-jogging shuffle that doesn't really count as running, but is still more difficult than walking.

When scary things rear their head, real or imagined, I am the family's first line of defense. Though the dog is good at scaring away the dinosaurs that live underground, but come out at night.

My wife and I enjoy hiking in the woods, and will likely be doing more of it once we move (which we are doing soon).

Playing at the playground involves climbing, swinging, sliding, and generally clambering around. I actually used to love clambering over things in my youth, and kind of still do. I just got out of the habit. 

What does all of this translate into?

Awkward Loads
  • Odd object carries. Sandbags, kegs, and other such stuff. Kettlebells probably also work, but lack the stabilization component.
Swinging/Twisting with Loads
  • Odd objects. Kettlebells.
Getting Up and Down off the Ground
  • The Turkish get up seems obvious, but all kinds of groundwork variations might apply here. Sometimes I need to move on the ground as well.
 Putting Things Overhead.
  • Occasionally one handed, often two handed. Actually probably looks more like a barbell press, since I'm usually putting up a single unit.
  • Oh, and some level of mobility is important for this. And on the getting up and down piece--being able to squat to depth is sometimes really helpful.
  • Well, catching and throwing a ball.
  • What it says on the tin. Endurance usually matters more than speed.
  • Having a basic familiarity with self-defense practices. Doesn't require extreme expertise in a particular discipline, but being able to take care of business if push comes to shove.
  • Bonus: son likes to wrestle with me (and one friend). Grappling becomes a game and a bonding experience.
  • What it says on the tin. Sometimes with a load
Playground work
  • Climbing, swinging, etc. All bodyweight/gymnastic kind of things.
I'm a long way from building a full-fledged program here, but my gut is that a lot of kettlebell, odd object, and bodyweight work is the way to go on this. Some barbell stuff, but I don't know that a heavy back squat adds anything to that list (it might be FUN, but that's a different story).

I could probably add some meditation and mindfulness practices as well. 'Cause parenting is a blast, but also a stressor.

Stuff to ponder.

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