Back to school

Kids don’t usually like going back to school. But now that I am a parent, I can see that going back to school is actually worse for the parents than it is for any child!

With all of the chaos surrounding back-to-school prep, it’s no wonder parents can’t keep everything on track, much less keep exercise on the top of the to-do list!


There is no perfect time to exercise, especially being a busy parent. So don’t hold out on getting started on your exercise routine. Like the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.”

Finding the time to be a parent and workout

Being a parent is hard. Working out is hard. Finding time to do both can be very hard! After all is said and done, you might be lucky enough to have 30 minutes left in the day to get in some exercise.

Fortunately for you, that’s just enough time for one great workout.

Once school is back in session, don’t let back-to-school schedules be the ruin of your regular fitness routine or the excuse for not starting a workout program.

Here are a few clever ways to fit fitness into your day regardless of your busy schedule.

Plan Ahead

Any parent knows that planning and preparation are key and can make the difference between semi-control and utter disaster. Putting in time to plan your exercise can help you make it happen:

– Know your agenda: make a weekly calendar of work, family and other responsibilities so you know what’s going on for the week ahead.

– Look for times you can squeeze in exercise. Any free moments to spare?  It has been shown that doing shorter workouts throughout the day can be as effective as continuous exercise. As little as 10 minutes here or there, just think, that’s 10 minutes you’ll be moving instead of sitting.

– Get ready the night before. Plan what you’ll do and gather what you need the night before. Pack your gym bag or put your exercise clothes next to the bed so you can put them on as soon as you get up.

– Try combining your exercise with your daily activities. If your child is at soccer or football practice, use the time to jog or walk around the field. If you’re at the mall, add a few laps of walking to burn extra calories.

– Try setting up a home gym. Even if you prefer a health club, having some basic equipment available as well as a few quality workout videos means you’re always ready for a workout.

– Always be prepared. Keep extra gear at work or in the car on hand for those times you can find a few minutes at lunch or on the way home from work, squeeze in a quick walk at a nearby park or around the parking lot.

Consider training with a partner

A certified personal trainer can be a huge motivator factor, but many people are put off by the cost.

One option is an accountability partner, which costs less than one-on-one training. By collaborating with a friend to do it with you, you’ll have added accountability to exercise.

Track It

Give a pedometer a try. You’ll be amazed how motivating it can be. Walking 10,000 steps a day is the standard goal and you wouldn’t believe how hard that is if you have a sedentary job.

Snap a pedometer to your belt and you’ll instantly walk more just to meet your goal for the day.

Be Creative

Is it fun? Do you enjoy it? Too often people have narrow definitions of what exercise is, as though only certain things “count.” Some people feel that if it doesn’t last an hour or leave you breathless and sweaty, it isn’t good enough.

Don’t limit your options and keep a look out for news ways to get moving. Try walking lunges when you go out to get the paper. Waiting for dinner to cook? Do some push-ups. Grab the family and go for an after dinner walk every night.

Anything can be a workout if you work hard enough at it.

Get the Kids Involved

When you need to fit in exercise but are with the family, grab the kids! Watching TV and playing video games shouldn’t be the typical family activities. These activities are simply a great way NOT to lose weight and to show your kids how to live an inactive lifestyle.

Instead, get up and move around and set your kids up for a healthy lifestyle. Practice your child’s favourite sport, go for a bike ride together, or play on the playground with your little one.

Whatever activity you choose, always include the whole family and yes that means you too!

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Are You Being Efficient?

Another way to motivate yourself is to create a workout schedule that fits your life. If you plan long, overloaded workouts that never seem to materialize, it’s time to create workouts that make sense.

When you’re short on time, stick with strength training moves that give you more bang for your buck. Compound movements that work multiple muscle groups will help you save time as well as add functionality to your workouts.

Don’t wait for tomorrow to start working out

Whatever you do, don’t wait to get back to your exercise routine. Studies have shown, the longer you wait, the harder it gets and the more you get used to life without it. Go ahead and make a commitment and do something today.

It’s never too late to get started!

What is a quick, effective workout?

When you are in a hurry, Tabata exercises are a great and efficient way to burn your calories.

Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training that consists of eight rounds of 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Tabata training gives a strenuous full-body workout that can help you lose weight, increase strength, burn fat and reach fitness goals that you have set. The following Tabata workout is an example you can follow to help you fit in your daily dose of exercise.

11 Butt-Kicking Tabata Exercises

Full Body

1. Burpee: Start standing, and then crouch to a low squat position with the hands on the floor. Then, kick feet back to a plank, then down into the bottom of a push-up.

Push off the ground and quickly return to the squat position. Lastly, jump up as high as possible before squatting down again and jumping back into the next push-up.

Lower Body

2. Jump squat: Stand with the feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Sit back into a squat (hips below parallel please!) then drive the whole body up through the heels, shifting weight onto the balls of the feet as you lift off.

Be sure to land on the balls of the feet and immediately bend the knees into a full squat. Make sure the knees aren’t wobbling side to side while squatting or landing from a jump.

3. Lunge jump: Start standing with the feet together and lunge the right foot forward, bending the knee about 90-degrees and keeping the torso vertical. Then, jump straight up and while in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the left foot forward.

4. Dumbbell front squat: Hold a dumbbell at the sternum (the center of the chest) and do a basic front squat. Place feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles.

Inhale and unlock the hips, bringing them back as the knees begin to bend. Keep the chest and shoulders upright, and continue until the hips are slightly less than 90 degrees from the ground.

On the way back up, engage the core and drive through the heels to return to standing.

5. Kettlebell swing: Stand up straight, with feet a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Grab hold of the kettlebell, keeping the palms face down and arms in front of the body.

Keep the knees slightly bent and drive the hips and bell back (it’s not a squat, so the knees shouldn’t have to bend that much), lowering the body just a bit to an athletic stance. In one fluid motion, explosively drive the hips forward while swinging the kettlebell, engaging the glutes and core.

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Upper Body

6. Push-up: Get into a plank position with hands planted a little bit wider than shoulder width apart. Keep the elbows close to the body throughout the movement.

Ground the toes into the floor and engage the abs and back so the body is neutral. Lower the body in one straight line until the chest touches the floor. Keeping the core engaged, exhale and push back to the start position.

7. Overhead neutral grip press: Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart core tight. Raise the dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell up to the shoulders with palms facing each other and the elbows below the wrists.

Press the weights upward until the arms are fully extended overhead, and then lower back to the shoulders.


8. Sprints: To get extra speedy, make sure form fits function.

Hold the correct posture, with eyes up, chest tall, shoulders relaxed and arms swinging up and down with the elbows at 45-degree angles.

9. Stationary bike or rower: Hopping on the bike for a quick spin is pretty self-explanatory, but the indoor rower is a bit trickier. First, strap feet into the foot stretchers, sit up tall and grab the handle. Roll forward until legs are completely bent and arms are reaching forward.

From this starting position (called the “catch”), explosively drive the legs back. When the legs are nearly extended, swing the torso back and pull the arms in so the handle is almost touching the rib cage.

From here (aka the “finish”) recover by stretching the arms straight out, returning the upper body to a straight, vertical position and bending the legs back to the catch.


10. Russian twist: Sit on the floor with the knees bent and feet together and lifted a few inches off the floor. With the back at a 45-degree angle from the ground, move the arms from one side to another in a twisting motion.

Go super slow, twisting the shoulders completely from side to side.

11. Ski abs: Start in push-up position with hands under the shoulders and core engaged.

Next, jump the feet to the left side of the body, as close to the upper torso as possible. Jump the legs back to a straight plank position and repeat on the right side.

Try Tabata exercises anywhere, anytime

With the exception of the weighted movements, most of these can be performed anywhere, any time. All you need is a set of comfy clothes and some motivation.

To keep track of the time more easily, consider downloading a Tabata timer app. It is always important to consider meeting with a trainer to go over correct form (even if you’ve previously done these moves) before starting a Tabata fitness regimen to prevent injury.

Read more from WatchFit Expert Tammie Zainc

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