How New Fathers Can Get Fit

Tips for achieving the Dad bod you’ve always dreamed of


Published:

Courtesy of Morton Photography

Becoming a father is about making changes — in what’s important, in your relationships, in your free time and maybe, most noticeably, in your fitness routine. A 2015 study from Northwestern University found that men gain an average of 4 pounds as they transition into fatherhood. So yes, “Dad bod” is for real.

While hours-long grind sessions at the gym might be a thing of the past, these ideas will help you forge a new path toward becoming a fitter father.

Work Out at Home
Maybe it’s during your toddler’s nap or after putting him to bed at night, but there are ways to sneak in fitness time for yourself — even if it’s at home. 

“With a wife who works full-time and two daughters, living room exercise routines are essential to me,” says Frankie Alt, owner of Third Level Fitness in Clayton.  

Parenting parody YouTube sensation and Raleigh dad Penn Holderness says when he can't get to the gym, he'll do burpees, squats and run sprints on his neighborhood street. 

"There are days I can't get out of the house, or the timing's not great, so I'll do a CrossFit-similar thing at home," he says.

Getting fit doesn’t require a gym membership or thousands of dollars in equipment. It could take as little as one piece of equipment. Alt says a kettlebell is “literally an entire gym that fits in the back of your closet.” 

While kettlebells are handy to have around, Alt says all you really need is, well … you. 

“Your body is the easiest and cheapest thing you can use to be fit,” he says. “The key is learning the correct form of basic movements, like squats and pushups.” 

Once you’ve got those down, find an exercise routine that incorporates those movements. YouTube is full of reputable channels, like Fitness Blender, that offer hours of home-based workouts. (Search for “men’s fitness” on YouTube to find more.)





Courtesy of Morton Photography

Include Your Child
Finding time to exercise doesn’t have to pull you away from your child. On the contrary, fitness can be a cornerstone of the bond you build with your little one. Enjoy the outdoors? Consider strapping your Mini-Me in the stroller, then walking or jogging the paved trails of the Capital Area Greenway in Raleigh; Bond Park in Cary; or the American Tobacco Trail, which runs through Apex, Cary and Durham. Wear your bundle of joy in a carrier while you hike up Hillsborough’s Occoneechee Mountain. Teach your kiddo the finer points of a jump shot, or take up a martial arts class together.

When Holderness works out at home, his 9-year-old son often participates. ""A lot of times Penn Charles will join me, when it's not too difficult," he says. 

Alt makes it a goal to include his daughters in workouts regularly. “I like to accomplish fitness activities weekly, like going on a walk with my daughters, or including them in a workout ... whether it’s yardwork, or a run, or martial arts — or even 15 minutes of a game of tag.”

Including your child in your fitness routine also sets a positive example. When you prioritize fitness, your child gains an understanding of the importance of healthy living.

Get High on Intensity During Lunch
Got an hour — or even 30 minutes — for lunch during your work day? That’s the perfect amount of time to squeeze in high intensity interval training, also known as HIIT. Local fitness specialist Stephen Urben advocates HIIT because it produces muscle-building and fat-burning results in as little as 20 minutes.

“HIIT is a proven training method — especially its use of rest — because it allows you to reach your maximum training zone over and over, shocking your body every workout,” Urben says. “The research shows just 20 minutes of HIIT leaves your metabolism raging hours after you’ve trained, resulting in 9% more fat loss. And it’s almost 20% more effective than steady state training.” (Steady state training keeps your exercise intensity within the same range for the duration of your workout.) 

Being prepared is key for achieving a successful workout during lunch breaks. Make sure you have proper footwear and a change of clothes. If you don’t have access to a shower at work, bring hygiene products such as a towel, deodorant and wipes for freshening up. 

And, of course, don’t forget to pack a healthy lunch. Not only will this free up your lunch break for your workout, it also helps prevent the temptation to grab something unhealthy to eat on the fly. 

Block Out Time 
If every hour of your workday is filled with meetings that are stacked on your calendar like a game of Tetris, it’s time to schedule a workout. Blocking out time for fitness means you’re committing to good health, and it prevents last-minute lunch meetings from sliding into your inbox and onto your calendar.

Fatherhood requires a balancing act that, all too often, lowers fitness on many dads’ priority lists. Achieving a healthier lifestyle isn’t just a decision you make for yourself, but something that affects your entire family. 

Fatherhood will continue to redefine what’s important in your life. Put fitness near the top of your priority list, then embrace that Dad bod and make it as healthy as you possibly can. 

 

Elliot Acosta is a husband, father and food blogger based out of Raleigh. He writes at eatraleighblog.com.

 

Quick Exercise Routines to Try

Got a few minutes to exercise between fatherly duties or during your lunch break? Try these workouts, created by Frankie Alt of Third Level Fitness.

Kettlebell Ladder Workout
Swings
Pushups
Goblet squats
Upright rows
Start with five reps for each exercise, then decrease reps by one after every set until you reach only one of each. If you want to keep going, increase the reps by one after every set until you are back up to five reps per exercise. 

No-Equipment Max Workout
Do pushups for one minute and record how many you’re able to complete (30 pushups, for example). Divide that number in half (15), then perform that number of pushups at the top of every minute for 10 minutes. Once you can complete that number efficiently, shorten your workout to 8 minutes but add 30% more pushups (19). Once you complete that number, shorten the workout to 6 minutes and add 30% more reps (25). Continue by shortening the workout to 4 minutes and adding 30% (29), then go down to 2 minutes and add another 30% (34). Finally, redo your one-minute max. (This formula also works with situps and bodyweight squats.)

 

Photos of Penn Holderness courtesy of Morton Photography. Read our exclusive Q&A with Holderness here.

 

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December 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Create artwork inspired by the Christmas tree. Ages 6-10. Register online. Choose course #126771.

Cost: $31/resident, $40/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden "caches." We will learn how to use traditional GPS units and the Geocaching App (by Groundspeak), then hike...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Holiday Gift Making for Friends They're back! Come learn how to sew the perfect sized scrunchie - an excellent holiday gift for friends. Choose from a variety of fabrics, colors, and...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
The Studio School of Durham
1201 W Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: The Studio School of Durham
Telephone: 984-377-4502
Contact Name: Danielle Sunde
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Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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The ensemble performs favorite holiday tunes as well as the soundtrack to "The Snowman" as it is shown on a large screen. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Ages 15 and older enjoy a night of dancing, refreshments, a winter wonderland photo booth and more. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Winter is a great time to explore nature at the park! Join a naturalist to learn how to identify tracks, explore conifers, and drink pine needle tea. Then observe snow and ice through hands-on...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Family members join teams to shoot foul shots for a chance to win a holiday ham. See website for age divisions and times. No registration necessary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Center
73 Hunter St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Telephone: 919-249-3402
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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy a showing of "Home Alone." Register online. Choose course #128732.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Please join Admissions, Division Directors and our Head of School as they talk about Duke School’s unique program, specifically for students entering 5th-8th grade for the 2020-21 school year....

Cost: $0

Where:
Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Duke School
Telephone: 919-416-9420
Contact Name: Logan Blaylock

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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Assist with our habitat box monitoring. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention and may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current boxes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. $2 for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127199.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Bring your kids to the park for a day of crafting and nature while you take advantage of a few more hours of holiday shopping.  The crafts your child creates will make great keepsakes or gifts for...

Cost: $16 per child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Ages 11-17 create old-fashioned taffy and hard candy using ingredients like caramel, marshmallow and chocolate. Register online. Choose course #127044.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Traditional dance caller Connie Carringer teaches fun dances for the whole family: squares, circles, Appalachian and more accompanied by old-time, string band music performed by local musicians. No...

Cost: $2/person or $5/family

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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No Christmas season is complete without your family experiencing The Raleigh Boychoir’s shining “Carols of Christmas.” This year we are excited to invite community members to sing...

Cost: $10 Students, $15 Seniors, $20 Adults.

Where:
Edenton Street United Methodist
228 W Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Raleigh Boychoir
Telephone: (919)881-9259
Contact Name: Erin O'Hara
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Ages 5 and older move through yoga poses set to holiday music, decorate a special treat and drink hot chocolate. Registration required online. Choose course #127393. 

Cost: $19/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Ages 4-12 enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required. Children must have adult accompaniment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

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One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m. Registration required...

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
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Harris Lake will welcome a special holiday visitor this December! Santa will take time out of his busy schedule to join us for a cup of hot cocoa and a ride on our wagon along the back roads of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

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Discover what's happening in nature as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #127675.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take part in this annual walk to celebrate the winter solstice. Take a handmade lantern (white lanterns/lights only, handmade is requested, no fire allowed). Participants will gather at the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough
, NC  27278


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