You are reading How I am a parentwhere Metro.co.uk gets an insight into how the nation is raising its children.
We all know that vigorous exercise can have abundance of physical and mental benefitsBut would your kids want to exercise seven days a week?
Come to think of it, I would your want to exercise seven days a week?
Meet Claire Gleave, 44, from Broadstairs, who is doing just that with her husband, Oliver, 44, and three children, Alfie, 12, Sebastian, 10, and Max, 8.
The family enjoys daily vigorous activities, rain or shine, including soccer, running, pilatesweight training, swimming and climbing.
‘To some people, what we do in the week would seem extreme if they looked at our schedule. But it’s very normal for us,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
“Our family practices soccer, climbing, tempo training, running and pilates every day, and on Saturdays my husband Oliver will run in the park while my other children are at soccer.
‘Often my kids will have soccer and climbing during a typical day, and while they’re there, I’ll go for a run and do a tempo workout.
‘Sometimes I’ll mix it up with seeing my personal trainer and I’ve also started a running club with another mum.’
If people think the Gleave family’s schedule is extreme, Claire says exercise has proven to be good for the family’s health and the kids have time to enjoy screen time.
“For us, exercise is as normal as three meals a day, and I couldn’t imagine not being like that,” she explains.
‘I’m equally shocked by people who say they don’t exercise at all. I just can’t understand it for my physical or mental well being!
‘When someone tells me they don’t exercise, I can’t understand it, because I can’t imagine living my life without fitness.’
Claire is well acquainted with the world of fitness because she ran 13 marathons, 10 of which were London marathons, three of which were while pregnant.
“I went through all my pregnancies, stopping at different points with each one, but with my youngest I went until about 37 weeks,” she recalls.
‘I got a lot of funny comments and looks when I was pregnant, because back then, even eight years ago, it wasn’t so close. If I put something on social media, there would be slightly passive-aggressive comments, like: “I didn’t know you could still run while pregnant?”
‘But I also got a lot of shouts and cheers from the American tourists who frequent the Cotswolds, which was really nice.’
Claire notes that it’s perfectly fine to run in pregnancy (if you talk to your midwife first and you don’t have complications), and at one of her marathons it was actually the clue that tipped her off that she was expecting.
“I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Sebastian, when I ran 15 miles and as I crossed the finish line I felt really dizzy,” she says.
‘I ran well but I thought I was going to pass out. My friend said “oh you’re not pregnant again are you?” so I went to check and it was confirmed.’
She adds: ‘I realized that even in early pregnancy you notice a difference in your body and breathing.’
Weekends include the aforementioned Park Runs and football training, before a family swim on Sunday.
If the schedule gets too hectic, then her in-laws will often help with pick-up and drop-off to make sure everyone makes it to their scheduled workouts.
‘My family often see my social media posts and my sister will text me saying she’s still in bed!’ Claie laughs.
‘While we may have a busy schedule, I don’t tend to watch my kids play games or practice and that’s something I refuse to feel guilty about.’
Apparently, children don’t grumble about their routines, because it’s as normal for them as it is for mom and dad.
‘While we encourage children to exercise, we never force them to do anything they don’t want to do,’ says Claire. ‘My eldest likes to climb, while the middle one stopped gymnastics after a year, and that’s good.’
At home, Claire keeps the momentum going by taking an active approach to sitting at her desk while working on her sportswear brand, NatalActive.
‘I rarely sit, which can cause neck and back problems, but instead I have a treadmill at my desk so I can walk and type at the same time,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I probably do a good two or three hours on the treadmill every day. It gives me a lot more energy and I don’t have an afternoon crisis. Definitely makes me even hungrier!’
Does the family take a break and slack off while on vacation? Although they have relaxing days by the pool, a lot of the fun on vacation consists of various fitness activities.
‘We were in Spain recently and I spent most mornings running on the beach, using the gym and my husband took my older child climbing,’ recalls Claire.
‘We were all out there, paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming a lot too.’
Claire says that she didn’t come from a family that was particularly into sports and that she only started getting serious about fitness at university.
‘When I went to watch my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, run the London Marathon in 2003, it was so inspiring,’ she says.
‘You see people of all abilities and shapes, sizes and ages taking on this challenge. So after a few drinks one night I said I was going to do a marathon next year! Then I got the error.’
Fitness has a social aspect, Claire says, but it can help her children in other areas of life as well.
‘Sports can really help with confidence and I think it’s fantastic because it teaches them about winning and losing,’ she says.
‘Alfie got on his feet with climbing, and my other two did a lot of team sports. When they lose a match and feel miserable, they learn that you can still be kind about it.
‘You might cry a little when you get home, but next time learn how to do it better. I think it’s very important to teach children resilience.’
A family fitness routine is largely a pleasure, she adds. They ‘never sit on the scale’ or worry about their weight and enjoy a varied diet.
‘Although children can be a bit fussy, meals often include spaghetti bolognese, lasagna, chicken and rice and curry and scabies,’ she adds.
Tea NHS recommends at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise per week, but personal trainers, classes and activities can have a high financial cost, as can fitting exercise into a busy work schedule.
But Claire says there are plenty of ways others can start training without breaking the bank.
‘The trick is not to look at exercise as exercise, it’s just about finding something you enjoy,’ she says.
‘You don’t want to feel like you have to go to the gym so if you can build something into your day because you enjoy it, you can go from there.’
For new mums, Claire says that although she returned to exercise eight weeks after giving birth, taking advantage of an equipped gym that had a nursery, don’t push yourself.
“Even if you’re doing nothing but walking the dog, that’s a great starting point,” she says. ‘It’s just about moving your body in the right direction.’
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