Living LifeWise: Training with Kids in Tow

Living Lifewise Sunday, July 14, 2013 Written by

Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Johanna Dokken.

I love to swim. As someone who likes to work out in the pool, I have a vision of the future. My kids are older. It’s a glorious day. The whole family arrives at the pool with matching swim caps. We all dive into our own swim lanes simultaneously and go about our respective swim workouts. No toddlers crying. No kids throwing up after swallowing too much pool water. It’s a beautiful dream. Then I wake up.

In reality, as my husband and I work opposite schedules, I have to be creative with my training sessions so I can include and make it fun for my two- and six-year-old children. Even though I prefer swimming, it also means I can’t be picky about how or where (or when!) I get to exercise. It just has to happen in some shape or form, at least four times a week.

Here are some techniques I’ve picked up that go beyond my usual stroller pushing:

Head to Your Local Track & Field

Living in North Seattle, I have the good fortune of living next to some excellent high school tracks. I bring a ball or two down to the track field and plunk the kiddos in the middle of it while I get in two miles of sprint series. The fact that I have to pay attention to my kids, and redirect their activities every lap or so, means I’m working out even harder.

Hit The Pool

If you’re a swimmer, sign your kids up for swim lessons at a facility that hosts lap swim at the same time. For me, this is my local YMCA. I’ve been able to swim up to 1800 yards during the swimming lessons by following this simple type of workout:

  • 500 yard swim
  • 100 yard kick (active recovery with a kick-board)
  • 100 yard IM (one lap each of butterfly, backstroke, breast stroke and free-style)
  • 100 yard kick (active recovery with a kick-board)
  • 100 yard easy cool down

Johanna and daughter

Head to the Lake

For an unconventional workout, strap a belt bungee to your waist and connect it to a smaller plastic, inflatable boat where your kids (in life jackets of course) can play peacefully while you tug them around the water. My husband perfectly engineered this legitimate workout method and is now famous among our neighbors. I have yet to go beyond swimming breast stroke with my head held high, but I’m getting there.

Join the Kids at the Playground

Never underestimate an intense game of tag, especially when large hills are involved. My toddler loves to chase me as I dart around him and get in some quick sprints. My six-year old has recently been ignited with competitive zeal from kindergarten PE and is always up for a “race” around the playground. I have also found yoga to be great sideline activity for a low impact workout while watching the kids play.

Head Out On an Adventure

Biking and hiking are among my summer favorites as well, and this time of year is perfect for a quick ride around the neighborhood or a longer day hike. These activities help me enjoy their current ages. I think less about my future vision of us all at the pool with my kids swimming circles around me.


Johanna_DokkenJohanna Dokken is a former college swimmer and mom of two, looking to make health and fitness a higher priority. Her inspiration to lead a more active and healthy life comes from her family’s history of diabetes and heart issues, as well as a personal brush with cancer as a teenager. She loves the personal empowerment, stress relief and community of training and pursuing outdoor activities.