January 28, 2023 7:03 pm
January 28, 2023 7:03 pm

How I’ve Stayed Fit as a New Dad

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Why fitness matters

We’ve all heard about dad bods. The term is a great way to protect the egos of out of shape fathers but a lousy way to bet on your future health. It’s widely understood that being overweight contributes to many preventable diseases even if the damage may not be realized for many years. In order to enjoy the benefits of financial independence it makes sense to improve my health so that I can have more quality time with the people who matter to me. As a new parent it can be difficult to stay fit. I know I struggled for a period to find the both the time and motivation to workout.

When lockdowns were first implemented, I struggled to adapt and became frustrated with the ongoing gym closures. If that sounds like a first-world problem. I get that. However, as frustrated as I was, I was even more concerned about the upcoming winter. My daughter was due in early November, and I dreaded the thought of staying at home for months on end through a harsh Wisconsin winter in an 800 square foot house. Some of my fears for January and February turned out to be unfounded as I tore my knee in December (ouch!). Thankfully I recovered quickly and was back on my feet and ready to begin some light workouts by March. Unfortunately, when you’re in the Midwest winter doesn’t end in February. But I wasn’t about to let a little cold weather stop me! I started researching different ways I could get my workouts in and have found a few different options that have worked for me over the last couple years. Hopefully you find this information useful as well.

I started with a jogging stroller

Coming fresh off a knee surgery I decided that the responsible thing to do was signup for the San Francisco Half Marathon with my new classmates. Despite needing to care for an infant, move across the country, start my studies, and get back into shape, I decided to send it. In hindsight I probably pushed myself a little further out of my comfort zone than I intended but I was motivated to follow through on the commitment I made since it was the first commitment I made while at business school. I was incredibly motivated but, I found that there were very few opportunities where my wife was home and not already thoroughly exhausted from being awake multiple times a night. Passing off our newborn child just to get my daily workouts in didn’t seem like a fair long-term plan so I looked for an alternative arrangement.

Hello jogging stroller! After quickly researching some of the top strollers I decided to purchase the Thule Urban Glide stroller which seemed like a solid value. I couldn’t use it immediately since my daughter was initially too young, but as soon as my daughter was six months of age and had the appropriate head control, I strapped her into my stroller for a run. It was incredibly freeing to get outside and enjoy the crisp air after months spent indoors. By the time my race came around I was in the best shape I had been in years and crushed my goal time. At a purchase price around $500 it provided a ton of value.

*Picture of Thule Stroller*

Then I added a hiking pack

As soon as I knew we were heading to California, I knew that we’d need to budget for a hiking back that accommodates a child. The combination of my love for hiking along with the plentiful trail access made my decision a no-brainer. From my personal experience in the Army, I also knew that hiking up and down hills with a 35lb pack for five miles is a pretty decent workout.

A hiking pack may not be as widely useful as a jogging stroller, but I think it might be one of the best purchases for a dad in the Bay Area. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Bay offers the best home base for a hiker in the United States.

Bay Area Hiking Strengths

  • Massive regional public park system (East Bay Regional Park District) with over 100,000 acres of land with trails throughout
  • A large variety of state parks within a 1-2 hour drive including Mt Diablo, Sonoma Coast, Armstrong Redwoods, and more
  • Iconic National Parks like Yosemite, Redwoods, and Kings Canyon within driving distance
  • Year-round gorgeous weather that is dry with temperatures in the 50s to enjoy it
  • A huge variety of different ecosystems represented in the surrounding area including towering redwoods, rugged coastline, scrubby Mediterranean lands with rolling hills, etc.
  • Low or no cost to park and explore these areas

Given the lower price point of my hiking pack at around $300 and all the use I get out of it here in California, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much value it’s delivered.

Other ways I’ve found to stay in shape

Biking

For under $200 you can get a bike seat and frame to add to your bike to accommodate a child. I’ve found that using a seat is preferable for younger children as my daughter fits much better in the seat relative to the Burley trailer that we’ve had for years (A burley turns out to be great for getting groceries as well). One downside of the bike seat is that our daughter needed to be a little older in order to use the seat. The other downside is that we also needed to spend another $200 on the bike rack so that we could bring our bikes to car free paths.

Home Gym

While I managed to get in plenty of cardio, I neglected resistance training. The primary reason that I delayed purchasing any dumbbells or other resistance equipment was a lack of space. However, once I purchased our townhouse with a 2-car garage, space wasn’t a problem. I simply carved out a 6’x4′ spot behind my hatchback and put down some rubber tiles and a bench. Between the flooring, bench, and dumbbells I spent about $850. Coming up with the money out of my personal savings meant saving for a couple months and also stretching out the payments for a couple months at 0% interest. Despite the significant investment I’ve been very happy with the purchase. My home gym allows me to get in a workout while my daughter is sleeping and has been a key part of getting more consistent workouts in after I finished my half marathon training.

For more information on home gym costs, check out this article where I break down the cost of a gym membership against the cost of a home gym.

Home Yoga Studio

Our townhouse has a flex room on the first floor that we’ve adapted to use as an office as well as an impromptu yoga studio. With two windows, a sliding door, and expansive views of the surrounding coastal California hills it makes for a pretty sweet little yoga spot. The best part about this workout is that it didn’t cost me any new money. I already had my yoga mat, and I could get a yoga instructor by simply turning the monitor around and streaming a yoga session.

The final tally

Across all the various pieces of fitness equipment I’ve purchased, I’ve spent approximately $2500. That’s certainly not cheap though it is very possible to budget for when the purchases are spread over a two-to-three-year period.

Readers, do you have ideas for other ways for dads to stay in shape that I haven’t thought of or listed?

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