I’ve always wanted to be one of those families who exercise together. You know, the kind of family who jogs around the neighbourhood, children in tow, making all the neighbours jealous. And even though we just decide to drop everything and go for a little jog together like it’s no big deal, our outfits are the perfect mesh of Lycra and spandex all in complimentary colours.
Yeah…we’re not that kind of family. Instead we’re the type of family who binges on Netflix and ice cream in fleece pajamas. But I know those other types of families exist! I know, because I saw one once. Yup, with my own chubby eyes…I saw a family who exercises together.
I was eating breakfast (ice cream), when I saw them. The mom was jogging (of course), and on this particular day, the weather was especially nice, so naturally, she was pushing a stroller while she ran. As a complex mix of hatred and admiration for this woman fattened inside me, I saw her OTHER child. He looked to be a toddler not much older than mine obediently BIKING beside her (without training wheels, I might add). To complete the picture, her hunky slice of a husband was pulling up the rear on his bike…laughing and soaking in the image of his perfectly built family.
I gobbled ice cream in double time as they went by. Look at her running…with her flattering tights and expensive sneakers, I thought. She probably had her babies via stork, or Immaculate Conception. And look at her children ENJOYING the fresh air. How dare they? What about that husband? I bet he’s daydreaming about ice cream and muffin tops like every other normal human being.
I jolted back to reality when my own husband shook my arm, “Why are you mumbling?” he asked, “You sound like a crazy person.” And that was enough to set a fire under me. If her family could exercise together, why couldn’t mine? I finished my ice cream (waste not, want not), threw my bowl in the sink, and gave the family a pep-talk.
“We’re gonna eat lightnin’ and we’re gonna crap thunder!” I yelled.
My tone was so aggressive, it made the toddler cry.
“Oh no, don’t cry, baby! Mommy’s just psyching us up to exercise.”
“Eh-ter-ties?” he asked.
“Yes, I know it’s a new word you’ve never heard mommy say before—EX-er-cise.”
I got the babies in their snowsuits and marsh-mellowed them into the double stroller. Once they stopped crying from being stuffed into this foreign vehicle, Husband and I laced up our sneakers, and we took off. We made it to the end of the street (30 seconds away) before I had to stop for a water break.
The instant the stroller stopped, the baby, who insists on constant motion, yelled what I can only imagine were profanities. I had no choice but to keep the stroller strolling. But not before I fetched a cracker and a sippy cup for the toddler.
And this is how we trudged for the entire “run.” Husband and I stopping every 30 seconds to bend down and tend to some helpless child’s needs while the other one yelled because we weren’t meeting his needs. We worked ourselves into lathers before we made it around the block. I muttered under my breath, “This is NOT what SHE looks like when SHE goes for a run.”
“What? Who are you talking about?” Husband asked.
Just then I heard the steady pat-pat-pat-pat of expensive sneakers drumming behind me.
“Good morning! Great day for a run!” she chirped as she breezed by.
It was HER— and her little family too! THEY WERE ON THEIR SECOND ROUND OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD. THEY LAPPED US.
I punched her in the face in my imagination, but I smiled back in real life.
“Ha, ha, great day,” I snorted.
I watched her flattering tights shimmy off into the distance. I tried to mimic her moxie, but my cardio attempt descended into a weird stop motion animation of lunges and squats followed by angry sprints. (You know how you can rub two sticks together to start a fire? Well, apparently you can rub two fat gams together and pretty much start a fire that way too, because my thighs were burning.)
We made it home in four pieces. I handed the children to Husband and scooped myself a bowl of therapeutic ice-cream. It doubled as salve for my ego and an ice-pack for my legs. I laid on the couch moaning as I reassessed my goals. “Maybe we’re just not the kind of family who exercises together,” I said. “Maybe we’re just destined to grow old and fat together.”
And then Husband said the unthinkable.
“Well, if you don’t want to get fat, maybe you should just ease off the ice cream,” he suggested.
Endorphins sent that comment right to Hormonal Headquarters causing me to stomp off in a tizzy. Then I did what any emotionally stunted person would do. (No, I did not binge drink like it was spring break ’98, I wish.)
I put the iPod on shuffle and had a dance party.
Well, first I punched some throw pillows. Then I put the iPod on shuffle and had a dance party.
And just as I dealt my first blow, I heard that familiar lick, Woah, oh, oh, ohhhh….followed by that unmistakeable flute-like part, do-do-do, do-do-do, do-do-do, doot-dooo. I took a few cleansing breaths as both babies’ ears perked up. Then the song kicked into full gear.
Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting!
The baby went bananas in the Jolly Jumper as the toddler did flying karate chops off the couch. I channeled my inner Ms. Piggy and before we knew it, the whole family was…
It may not have been pretty or co-ordinated; we may not have been rocking matching workout gear. But there we were jumping, dancing, laughing, sweating. When the song was over, the toddler yelled, “AGAIN!” So we did it all again.
I haven’t forced my family to go running together since that fateful day. We still binge on Netflix and ice cream, and we only remove our fleece jammies when required. But every time Kung Fu Fighting takes its turn on the iPod, we become a family who exercises together.