I just dropped my twelve-year old son off at the gym. He goes every second day for tennis lessons – and then every other day for matches. But that’s beside the point. The interesting thing for me is that he is twelve and I am taking him to HIS gym – a place separate from my own. Add to this that my wife heads off to her women’s only gym each day too. Plus, we have a treadmill at home, weight bench, weights, mats, strength cords, etc. I cannot believe how much fitness and fitness-related activities have become such a massive part of our lives. When my kids whine (and believe me they do, a lot) it’s often along the lines of “Are you and mom going to the gym AGAIN?”
Fitness Family for the New Millenium
My parents never went to a gym – or really ever exercised formally in any way. We did tons of stuff together. We played sports, rode bikes, games, ran, jumped, playgrounds, what have you but the idea of a gym or a trainer was simply non-existent to us. For years my dad worked at jobs that were both physical and tough on the body. He didn’t need cardio and weight training. He got them at work. And mom had way less labour saving devices helping her out at home the way we do now. But it was also different then. The suggestion that you needed to run like some hamster in a wheel was mocked and laughed at. Who did that sort of thing, except maybe some Hollywood celebs and the odd body-building fitness weirdo? Nobody – that’s who. And that reality wasn’t so long gone in the rear-view either. I listened to ex-CFLer Jay Christiansen explain that not only did he fail to weight train when he played professional football but he didn’t even know where the weight room was. Literally, he didn’t even know the team had one. I’d say we’ve come a long way, baby.
Scientific understanding – coupled with aggressive entrepreneurship – has definitely lead us all to a new world order of gyms and trainers and an overall fitness awareness for the masses. And that’s ultimately a good thing, I think. As our lives have become more sedentary (thanks to all manner of labour saving devices like the Roomba, drive-thrus, fake lawns, liposuction…) I figure we’re all gonna need to do something to keep the front porch in our pants from getting too cozy.
Fitness Family Rubbing Off
But what I wonder is how the kids are seeing all this? As I leave for one workout or return from another, I know the children are watching me. Do they really notice? Are they getting it? Do they see that taking care of one’s body now requires effort in a way it never used to? I sincerely hope so. I mean, I want them to care about it but I also don’t want them to obsess about such things in an unhealthy way either. It’s a fine line in some ways. We’re doing our best at encouraging them into more proactive approach towards their bodies now – certainly way earlier than when we ever took it up. And hopefully that will make things easier for them down the road. Or not. They’re still the next generation, and when it comes to those that come next doing what’s modelled for them is not exactly a given. In fact, it’s often the opposite. Maybe they’ll just rebel and take up smoking and drinking and wearing elastic waist pants just to spite us. That wouldn’t be good. Mom and dad visit to see their sweaty, out of shape kids lying on the couch with pizzas balanced on their enormous bellies, swigging energy drinks and noshing on peanut power-bars. I swear, if they do that to me and then manage to end up living longer than I do I’m gonna be really friggen ticked. You know what? I’ll haunt them. That’s what I’ll do.