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Get in Gear in the New Year

Make fitness a family affair this year

Published on: January 01, 2019

A young girl playing tennis

We all know the routine: Holiday treats and packed schedules wreak havoc on healthy habits. And so, we start each dawning year with the best of intentions: This year, we’ll exercise more, eat better, feel great.

But what’s overlooked when making those resolutions? The reality of parenting.

Between the drop-off times, the doctor’s appointments and the after-school activities, when’s a parent expected to squeeze in a workout? So, for 2019, try this instead: Get that New Year’s resolution to stick by making fitness a family affair.

These local family-friendly activities will keep the whole brood moving and grooving long after the start of the new year.

Sign up for the Magnuson family fitness series

Sometimes all you need is motivation. Give your family something to work toward with the Magnuson Series of monthly running and walking events. Following set routes at Magnuson Park, each event typically offers a 5K and 10K run/walk, a 15K run and a 400-meter kids’ dash. Some of the monthly events include a half-marathon or duathlon option. The program provides inexpensive, family-friendly, consistent fitness events for all ability levels — along with the impetus to get you and the kids out there on your daily run in between events. Bonus: Registration fees help fund tree planting around the city!

Tennis, anyone?

At the Amy Yee Tennis Center in South Seattle, families can drop in for Family Night every Friday from 6:45 to 8 p.m., with a fee of $5 per person. Let kids practice the tennis fundamentals as parents learn to lead games, drills and exercises. At different times throughout the year, the center also offers parent-child tennis camps. Once everyone in the family has the basics down, you can play together on tennis courts anywhere. Check your local city parks website to reserve a court.

Roll with it

Getting active as a family works best when you have something fun to do that just happens to involve exercise. One idea: roller skating. Age is no barrier to entry, so kids and parents can do it together. If anyone in your family wants to take the activity more seriously, consider joining a roller derby league. And when the weather gets nice, cruise down any number of local paved trails (get more ideas in our roller skating guide for the Seattle area).

Go, go yoga

Yoga is a versatile option that can be adapted to any fitness level or age group, making it a great fitness fit for families! Locally, 8 Limbs Yoga has four studios around Seattle and offers a variety of family and child yoga classes, as well as child care during some adult classes. Another idea: Practice yoga at home (you’ll find plenty of advice and how-to videos online). Whichever approach you choose, the benefits of yoga extend beyond exercise by teaching kids (and adults) compassion and emotional self-regulation.

Dance it out

Seattle-based nonprofits KEXP 90.3 FM and The Vera Project occasionally host family dance parties and, more frequently, Seattle Dance Fitness holds structured $20-per-family, one-hour dance parties at The Creative Dance Center in North Seattle (the next one is Feb. 1). The party combines fitness songs and dancing games with props such as balloons and hula hoops for hilarious “dance battles.” Finish the evening with the free dance, which includes glow sticks, streamers and party lights. Of course, you don’t even have to leave your house to have an epic dance party. Just start your favorite playlist and roll up the living room rug (combine dancing with vacuuming for maximum impact). If your kids are reluctant to join in, introduce a little light competition. Challenge them to an old-school dance-off or fire up your gaming console for a dance revolution.

Hit the gym (with child care)

There’s nothing wrong with making fitness your “me time.” To help, find a gym with child-care options so you can lift weights, take a class or even swim laps. Whatever activity you choose, on-site child care lets you focus on your form instead of your fam. Find local options near you.

Go geocaching

If being active for your family means exploring the great outdoors, you’ve probably heard your kids ask, “How much farther?” even when the trailhead is still in view behind you. And while snacks make great motivators, it’s easy to start feeling like Hansel and Gretel, doling out bread crumbs every few steps. So, until the day our kids are old enough to appreciate the unique ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, try geocaching. This high-tech scavenger hunt turns a walk in the woods — or just about anywhere — into the kind of treasure hunt kids can understand. Learn more about geocaching.

Cycle around

Talk about multitasking! You can get exercise, have fun, help save the planet and get where you need to go just by hopping on a bike. Riding in Seattle’s traffic with little kids can be an intimidating prospect, but our area has plenty of resources — such as Pedalheads and the Cascade Bicycle Club — to help biking families get the right equipment and learn how to be safe cyclers. Easy lakeside trails and an ever-expanding network of bike lanes provide safer routes for beginners of all ages. With some planning and practice, soon you and your youngsters will be buckling helmets instead of seat belts.

Just keep swimming

Even if your kids are old enough to swim alone, taking them to a family swim session is a good way to make fitness fun. Check the website of your local city parks department for pool hours. (Each municipal pool has a different schedule, so one of them is sure to fit your own.) Worried about the weather? Read up on the best places to go in our insider's guide to the best indoor pools.

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