When guys talk about doing indoor fitness often their first question is, “Do I have to have a gym membership to get fit with my child?” No! In fact, when I think of training indoors, gyms and fitness centers don’t immediately come to mind. Gyms have great fitness features that can help make exercise effective, fun and spiritually stimulating. However, gyms tend to be most relevant for dad’s with children age 12 and over. So, I’ve put together some outside-the-box or better yet “outside-the-gym” ways you can have a great indoor fitness experience with your child.
COURAGEOUS Men’s Fitness happens when you choose to have an active lifestyle with your spouse, child or the one you love. I’m Jason Rhymer, the Training Department editor for Faith & Fitness Magazine. I’m here to help you with fitness ideas and inspiration so you can have the courage to be the totally fit man that God wants you to be.

I know that’s what mom says, but there are plenty of other things you can do. How you get active indoors often depends on your style of home. If you have 2 or 3 stories, you can have a great time on the stairs. Watch this Power Devo that demonstrates STAIRCASE EXERCISES. You can turn your home staircase into a complete training experience for you and your child.
If you live in a ranch-style one story, set up a crawling or hopping obstacle course from room to room. You could time each other and see how long it takes you to hop on one foot into each room. The more energy, excitement and rules the more your child will respond with that same kind of energy and excitement. Kids actually love rules when it comes to play time – it makes the play feel official and serious. It is also a critical component to the character development of your child.
- Dad becomes a carnival ride for little kids. Lay on the floor, use your legs and keep giving your child different rides. Start with your child sitting near your ankles and give him or her a bouncing horse ride. Then your child lays face down on your shins and you extend your legs back and forth for a zooming airplane ride. From there your child sits in the palms of your hands and similar to a bench press you lift him or her up and down like a rocket. Stand up and you can do any number of swinging moves. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to always use caution and assure the very best safety for your child. - Move your furniture around. It is a fun way to give your home a fresh look like you see on those home improvement TV shows. You’ll work different muscles you may not regularly use AND the exercise is very much a team-work experience. - Race your chores. Tell your kids that you each have to fold your laundry, empty the trash in your own rooms, make your beds, and pick up 10 sticks out of the yard. The winner gets to pick what’s for lunch (or some other prize). Not only will your chores be done in record time, but this will be a blast! - Explore your garage or attic. Be careful with this one, but you might have some fun climbing challenges just getting into certain areas of your house. OR finally clean out the garage and then make it your family gym designed to your unique needs and preferences. It is typically a more rugged space. Who knows you may be able to play ball in the house after all. - Video games don’t have to be a sit-on-the-couch activity any more. Family fitness becomes interactive with Wii athletic and dance games. You’ll get plenty of exercise and fun fellowship time for all ages.

Sport-specific training centers like indoor batting cages, tennis courts, basketball training centers, volleyball courts and performance training centers like Velocity, are popping up everywhere. These can offer more versatility than traditional gyms, but usually come with a cost or lengthy commitment.
Indoor amusement and education centers will help you to get engaged and exercise. My 2 year old loves an called Discovery Kids Place. They have an actual fire truck, submarine, boat, and race car that she can crawl on and explore. She can also play doctor, banker, grocery store attendant, or diner cook in their simulated spaces. There are some great hands-on kid’s museums and learning centers that require movement and interaction with you and your child. Go to your local children’s library and ask about nature museums and other centers that can peak your child’s physical and mental curiosity.
Also, our city has a few Monkey Joes – giant inflatables and obstacle courses that will keep your kids screaming and you sweating for hours. Gymboree Play and Music is great for kids 4 and under as a place to explore climbing, balance, parachute-time, and fine motor skills. Charlotte also has indoor water parks called Ray’s Splash Planet and The Great Wolf Lodge. Urban areas can offer some unique indoor challenges just by running up a skyscrapers staircase. Our city has the “Race to The Top” a 50 floor climb for ages 13 and older.
You can see there are many options without ever going to a traditional gym. However, let’s go over some basic points to consider if you want to pump some iron with your child or do other exercise at the gym:
1. Classic question – what age is appropriate to start weight resistance training? There is no set answer…it varies kid to kid. You just want to make sure that your child has good flexibility, has explored with body-weight challenges first, and understands that they should never train in pain. According to Club Industry Magazine, strength training programs for children are beginning to “carry more weight” at fitness facilities nationwide.
2. Avoid machines! I recommend this for adults too, but especially for kids. Stick with light dumbbell or barbell movements that are properly supervised. This means you want to learn to do it right first then you can say, “watch how I do it”.
3. Don’t just stay with iron…explore with medicine balls, bands, sand bags, kettlebells, and other implements that your gym may offer. If you are unsure what to do, explore all of our Training Department articles.
4. Make it just the two of you. Gyms offer a number of resources like punching bags/boxing gloves, racquet ball courts and climbing walls. You’ll get plenty of variety, engaging exercise and unique opportunities for fun, fellowship, encouragement, teaching/learning and spiritual growth.
5. Exercise with class. If you are like a lot of men you may be hesitant to participate in a group exercise class because you are concerned about what others may think. Have the courage to do that group exercise class with your child or spouse and they’ll think you’re the coolest guy around. It could be a spinning class, swimming lessons or any one of dozens of other classes. Whatever you choose you’ll have fun.
One of the best indoor training spaces might be your church. It may be called a Family Life Center (FLC), a Recreation Outreach Center (ROC) or simply a Fitness Ministry. Whatever it is called it can offer some of the best opportunities to integrate the Christian faith into a fitness lifestyle. Some churches have fully developed fitness facilities. Other churches may utilize an activity room that is barely used. If your church doesn’t have a fitness ministry or program then you could be the catalyst for getting one started. There are many examples and ideas in our Culture Department. We created a training program for youth groups called SMX that combines scripture, prayer, and discussion questions with squats, lunges, push-ups, military presses, and one-arm rows.
ELMO PUSHUPS – Training With Infants And Toddlers (5 years old and younger) LEGO LUNGES – Training With Children (Ages 6 to 11) CELL PHONES AND CAR KEYS – Training With Older Kids And Teenagers. Learn about all of the stages of family fitness.

Tell your story! CONTACT US and briefly describe how you make family fitness fun indoors. As a registered user you can also share how you exercise with kids indoors by using the ADD NEW COMMENT link below and posting your own experience now.
Scott Woods - My family and I are blessed to have a very nice facility within our development so I lift weights / circuit train typically 3 days a week after doing the dinner dishes. I also have several homemade training tools in the garage (pullup bar, medicine ball, Bulgarian training bag) along with a heavy bag for working out those work frustrations. Both of my teenage kids are year round competitive swimmers so their fitness is never a question. We make an effort as a family, to try each other’s workouts and to work out together on their off days. My son and I love to camp and hike and are attempting to complete the requirements for the South Beyond 6K club. To date Tristan and I have climbed sixteen 6,000+ foot peaks in the Southeast since starting when he was 8 years old. There is something innately rewarding about completing a task with your family. Whether it is climbing a mountain, squatting 300 pounds or turning over a garden bed, there is no feeling better than that shared feeling of accomplishment.
James Cedeno, Timeless Truths Health Club, Florida - There is a desire, I expect, universally shared by fathers to be a super hero in the eyes of their children. I’m no exception. I strive daily to be the very best child of God I can possibly be, and using this Father/Son relationship as a model, I aspire to be a good father to my daughter, Lily. Spending time with my beautiful flower is one of my favorite things. One of my resolutions is to be a good role model to her in how I care for God’s precious gift of health. This is something that I want to develop in Lily’s life even at her tender age of 3 months. It may not be considered actual “exercise” but in our home I have taught Lily to stand on her own with little support and she’s learning to sit up. She is constantly moving and stretching those small muscles of hers. She just recently learned the art of rolling over. These small movements, I believe, are important in her development and our bonding.
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