Family Fitness – One Doesn’t Come at the Price of the Other

This post is the first in a series of guest blog posts by James McDowell from New You – Exercise, Weight Management and Nutrition. We’re calling it ‘The Family Fitness and Wellbeing Series’. James is the chap who is responsible for helping me lose 5 stone over the last 12 months and drop from a dress size 20-22 to a 12. This guys really knows his stuff.

In this blog post, James addresses a common problem, how families can prioritise fitness and make it part of their daily life.

Over to you James…

Whether it’s tending to a toddler, supervising a sibling dispute or even guiding a hormonal teenager (or partner for that fact!), losing site of your health and well-being can be a seemingly conventional trap to fall in to. Going to the gym, carrying out that extra food prep and generally making time for health rank way down on the never ending agenda you’ve managed to compile for yourself and your loved ones. Countless times the kids have eaten a tasty wholesome dinner you’ve prepared, then hurried inside the car to be chauffeured to GAA, dancing or mixed martial arts while you’ve grabbed something on the go and sacrificed your exercise session. For millions of parents worldwide this is a common theme which has left them overweight, overwhelmed and generally lacking the energy to keep going.

But what if I were to tell you that a few straightforward techniques could provide the key to getting your health back on track, while also strengthening the family dynamic? Now I have to put in a disclaimer here as I myself do not have a family but have seen first hand, from my work in the health and fitness industry, parents transform their health with the knock on effect being an improved family bond.


In essence you need to make becoming fit and healthy a priority; decide now that you are able to make the time and the effort to your fitness routine. The temptation to feel guilty as ‘you are putting your needs first’ ahead of your families is one you must resist as it will inevitably lead to failure. Improvement in your physical (and even mental) health will be of huge benefit to the whole family so remember this when rushing out the door with your gym bag or taking the extra time needed to prepare your nutritious snack.


The loved ones in your life; your children as well as partner, must understand the importance of the new goals you’ve set for yourself. Involve them as much as possible as this will inevitably cause a change in their life too; a change of schedule, more nutritious meals, more opportunity for exercise and eventually witnessing a change in your physical and mental well-being. Children especially can be great motivators by constantly nagging at you to go to the gym, go for a walk or questioning why you may not be eating a nourishing meal.

Motivational and logistical support from your partner is essential. When I say motivational I mean that your spouse backs your goals and on those days you don’t feel up to it holds you accountable. Logistical refers to looking after the kids, cooking the dinner and generally taking over the household whilst you crack on at your gym workout.

Once your family are on board a schedule can then be established which should be adhered to as much as possible; if fitness has become a priority this shouldn’t be an issue.

Don’t Go It Alone!

If your family are well and truly supportive of this endeavour then tackle health as a strong family unit; this will make it ten times easier while gaining some extra family bonding time. Go for a walk, play sport together or let one family member each week choose an activity for everyone to undertake, kids need to find exercise enjoyable or it will become an excruciatingly boring experience which will never last (by the way this actually holds true for adults exercising too, but more on that in another post!). Family involvement doesn’t just stop at exercise though, food preparation can be a laborious task at times but with the cooperation of the clan it can become a fun and stimulating activity for your little ones and at the same time teach them good habits towards food.

At NEW YOU we always talk about health and well-being in terms of being ‘holistic’; that is ‘treating the whole of something or someone and not just the individual parts’ and when it comes to the family this is vital. It’s not enough to decide that you are beginning a healthy eating plan or an exercise regimen, there are a ton of factors at play which include getting your mind-set on track and gathering the support of your spouse and/or children. If health and fitness are to become a major part in your life set the wheels in motion today by communicating with the family and involving them along every step of the way; it will become of mutual benefit to you and your loved ones.

New You - James McDowell Fitness Series

If you have any questions on this or anything in relation to fitness, nutrition or well-being contact NEW YOU at or visit the New You – Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management Facebook page.




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