Baby on Board

 
I was having lunch with the owner of another circus school with a much higher percentage of female students and we were discussing student attrition. She commented that the biggest reason for her losing students was them “getting knocked up.” I haven’t lost many students to child birth but am aware that the bulk of my students are single and without kids. I do highly value and respect my students with children who make fitness a priority.

Having lost many friends to kids, I’m kind of surprised how many people use kids as an excuse not to do anything. The thing that is weird to me is that this wasn’t the case for me growing up. My mom would decide she wanted to do something and tell my sister and me that we had twenty minutes to pack up our stuff and get ready to leave. We were constantly going places and doing interesting, active things. My sister and I being difficult or causing my parents to slow down and not be able to do things “because of the kids” was never an option.

I was able to contract Dan Savage to come and speak at Microsoft for National Coming Out Day. He fielded a lot of questions and one that really stood out to me was, “what advice would you give for parents?” He responded that he and his husband have always believed that “kids should go along for the ride and not be the ride.”

This was my experience growing up. My dad played on a softball team and was in a racquetball league. My mom also played sports, worked out often, and would substitute teach fitness classes. We would regularly go on hikes, bike rides, camping trips, and did a lot of activities ourselves. Out of shape parents enrolling kids in sports and fitness programs and not doing anything for themselves is about as sincere as parents dropping kids off at church and then heading to a bar. It just sends an incomplete and hypocritical message that kids see right through. It also says that fitness isn’t a priority and is something that will be cast aside when life gets busy.

Growing up in Utah, it was weird seeing how many women in particular had a large number of children, were morbidly obese, and battling health issues as well as depression. If I didn’t get an education, have any professional success, and spent years living for others as my health deteriorated to the point that just walking was difficult, I’d probably be clinically depressed too.

Even though my percentage of clients who have kids is low, I have enormous respect for the ones with kids. The people I admire the most in life are those who are able to keep things in balance. Just like it’s hard for me to respect a workaholic who sacrifices their health and sanity for their job or an amazing athlete who is unable to maintain relationships and a career, I think it’s bad for both parent and child if the parent doesn’t have friends, hobbies, or take care of their health.

We aren’t salmon who die right after spawning. I think it is important for parents to lead by example and take care of their bodies. It’s nice for kids to have strong, healthy, active parents who can keep up with them and stick around long into adulthood. As the number of people electing to have kids continues to decline, it sends a good message to children that you can be a parent, have a career, have friends, and still be attractive and athletic. I love having older students about whom everyone says, “I want to be like her at her age,” instead of being the type of parent that children are afraid of turning into.

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