Issue 20

The New Father Workout


                Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year.  There’s just something about getting as many near-free turkeys as I’m willing to go back into the store for that puts it a notch above other holidays I get off from work.  We bought a freezer a few years back just to store all of the turkeys we buy.  The beauty of it is that I get turkey club sandwiches all year round.

                Turkey, of course, is one of the most dangerous foods on the planet.  That’s why most people only eat it once a year at Thanksgiving, because they tend to put on so many pounds when they have it.  I find turkey to be an invigorating food, especially when I carry one up the thirty-seven steps from the street to my front door.  I heartily recommend having two or three frozen turkeys around for when you feel like a real workout.  Personally, I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I’m taking off pounds using the very same turkey that will help me put them back on.

                This year as I unloaded a half-dozen turkeys from the van, I made an amazing discovery: my son Skylar weighs just about the same as a good-sized Tom.  The challenge with the Turkey Workout is that those suckers are cold and the plastic bags I use to carry them bite into my hands.  They also don’t have much personality below 32 degrees.  Skylar, on the other hand, laughs and giggles. It’s only taken me a few days to develop a whole new workout using him instead of a turkey, and I find that it’s also a good chance for me to get in some quality time with him.  Here are some of the highlights for those of you with turkey-sized children of your own:

                Stomach crunches: A laughing, bubbly baby on your stomach while you’re trying to sleep in bed provides a good distraction during those painful abdominal crunches.  There’s no chance of “cheating” using your hands to support your head because you’ll need both of them to keep your child from falling over.  Advanced crunchers can breath quickly to bounce the baby like a horse.

                Upper body workout: Place your child on your shoulders and walk around the house.  As you try to avoid low doorways, you’ll strengthen your neck muscles while your child individually strengthens each lock of your hair.

                Power lifts: Bend over and lift your child from a prone position high into the air, making sure to avoid any vomit or spittle.  Be sure to lift with your knees.  Repeat several hundred times each day, especially if your baby doesn’t want to go down for a nap.  This exercise is especially good for straining your back.

                Running: I find it difficult to motivate myself to run without an incentive so I developed this exciting variation.  Hold your child in the crook of one arm.  With the other arm, open the front door and let the dog out into the street.  Now go get the dog without leaving the child alone in the house.

                Stair stepping: One of my personal favorites.  This is what happens when you get all the down to the car and realize that you forgot the diaper bag.  You can’t legally leave a baby alone in a car, so you have to carry the little one all the way back up those thirty-seven steps, then down again, only to realize that you forgot a bottle.  To increase the intensity of your workout, use a robust baby car seat, reinforced with heavy metal.  You can also stack up extra toys, clothes, crackers, blankets, even bricks in the seat to challenge yourself further.

                Hogan’s Alley: The police use a simulated alley to test their marksmanship and judgment.  You can try your own home version by putting your child in the middle of the floor and then closing your eyes or turning your back while you count to ten.  When you open your eyes, you’ll have just moments to catch your child as he or she drops from the top shelf of a bookcase or as the entire contents of the dining room table fall to the floor as he or she pulls on the tablecloth.  Give yourself extra credit if you manage to avoid any cuts or bruises.

                As with all workouts, nutrition is the cornerstone to successful results: keep the child fed at all times.  If you have questions about the safety of any of these exercises, just try asking your doctor what you should do instead without him or her giving you a smart answer.  Remember, exercising for a few minutes every day is better than exercising for a long time once a week, but exercising for a long time every day is better than both.


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