When Zoom couldn’t pull it off, Daddy took over gym class


Many parents have assumed the role of teachers during the pandemic. Jeremy Bodenhamer, 42, is exercising more than ever since serving as a physical education educator for his three children. When youth sports were disrupted last year and parks and playgrounds closed, the CEO of shipping and packaging software company ShipHawk began guiding his children through workouts at the family garage gym. .

Bethany and Jeremy Bodenhamer have always encouraged their children to be active.

“My kids love school but they hate Zoom school,” says Mr. Bodenhamer, who lives in Goleta, California. “Physical education takes the edge off them and takes the pent-up energy out of them.” Mr. Bodenhamer and his wife, Bethany Bodenhamer, Dean of Students at a local high school, are avid CrossFitters and have always encouraged their children to be active. Titus, 9, plays baseball. Solomon, 8, loves hockey and running. Jeremiah, 6, is so interested in basketball that he watches Stephen Curry’s MasterClass every day and imitates the exercises of the NBA player.

In the mornings, Mr. Bodenhamer takes the children for a run or guides them through short workouts. When their remote learning sessions are over, they meet their dad in the garage for a workout. Ms. Bodenhamer also joins in occasionally to make it a family affair. Children post their workouts and fitness challenges on their @heartandhamer Instagram account, hoping to inspire other kids to get active. Last fall, the children raised money through a GoFundMe campaign to purchase 700 jump ropes to give to children at the local elementary school.

“I try to teach kids that fitness is about more than just strong muscles,” says Mr. Bodenhamer. “We talk about life lessons like goal setting and building strength inside and out.”

Mr. Bodenhamer says that children love activities that involve hanging, jumping, or climbing.

The training

Children are ready to start at 6:45 a.m. M. They join their dad for a 3 mile run three mornings a week as part of the 100 Mile Club, a non-profit organization that encourages kids to run or walk 100 miles during the school year. . (The youngest doesn’t always run the full 3 miles.) On Mondays and Wednesdays they run on the school track or in their neighborhood. “Friday is always an adventure race,” says Mr. Bodenhamer. “We could run on the beach or on the downtown promenade.” On Tuesday and Thursday mornings the children do standing exercises or a short workout.

At least five days a week, the kids meet their dad for an after-school workout focused on CrossFit-inspired high-intensity functional movements. Tuesdays are equipment-free and can include squats, push-ups, grabs, and lunges. When children wear equipment, Mr. Bodenhamer makes sure the weight is kept low. The gym includes kettle bells, dumbbells, a 15-pound barbell, and five- and 10-pound medicine balls.

“Kids love jumping and climbing, so I ask them to do a lot of pull-ups, rope climbs, and box jumps,” he says. “And when you make something of an obstacle course, they get excited.” A recent obstacle course had the children jump a series of low obstacles followed by burpees and box jumps.

Sometimes the workouts focus on sports skills. For example, children have a batting cage in the yard and can practice batting and fielding. Mr. Bodenhamer occasionally moves workouts to the beach. “That’s great because after they roll in the sand they can run in the water and rinse off,” he says.

He and his wife alternate using the Peloton and running outdoors.

Children often join their father for a run.

The Bodenhamer brothers get a dose of nature and exercise on a beach near their home in Goleta, California.

The Wall Street Journal Fitness Challenge

The Bodenhamer boys tested The Wall Street Journal Fitness Challenge, a six-week exercise program, by seeing how many steps up and down they could take in 20 seconds. They used a four-inch step for children. Here are your tiered scores.

  • Jeremiah (6 years old): right foot 29, left foot 28
  • Solomon (8 years old): right foot 31, left foot 31
  • Titus (9 years): right foot 33, left foot 32

The diet

Philosophy: “I joke that we are 80% Paleo, 60% of the time,” says Mr. Bodenhamer.

Low sugar level: “Sugar is very controlled in this house,” he says. “The kids only have a box of cereal on weekends and they think Cheerios are a treat.”

Post-workout treatment: Sometimes after a tough workout, he takes the kids to the 7-Eleven for Gatorade or Slurpees.

Waste: Mr. Bodenhamer occasionally buys a box of donuts for the house.

The Bodenhamer brothers share their workouts on their Instagram page @heartandhamer in hopes of inspiring more kids to be active.

Essential equipment

Home gym: Bodenhamer estimates that he invested $ 12,000 in equipment.

Fitbit: “Solomon received one for his birthday and shares it with his brothers,” he says. “They are obsessed with following in their footsteps.”

Peloton bike: “We were lucky to buy one before the pandemic,” he says.

Play list

“Solomon is obsessed with the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman,” says Mr. Bodenhamer. Sing while you exercise. Titus likes rock and country, and Jeremiah just adapts his beat to any beat. “

More from What’s Your Workout

Help kids stay active

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many children weren’t as physically active as they should be, says Avery Faigenbaum, a professor of pediatric exercise science at the College of New Jersey. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommend that children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

“Before Covid, only 20% of boys and girls accumulated that recommended hour,” he says. “Now, amid Covid, we are seeing an increase in sedentary behavior and screen time.” Dr. Faigenbaum points out that those 60 minutes can be divided throughout the day. “Researchers call them energizing breaks and they can last between two and five minutes,” he says. Mental health rewards are just as important as physical rewards. “Physical activity will help children feel better, sleep better, and concentrate more,” he says.

Brett Klika, co-founder of SPIDERfit Kids in San Diego, says that research suggests that the most significant influence on children’s physical activity habits is the parents’ physical activity habits. “Consider the active things you can do together as a family,” he suggests. They don’t have to exercise together, but embrace night walks, bike rides and other recreational forms of family activity, he says. In today’s work-learn-from-home scenario, he says coding is a must. “A schedule doesn’t have to be complex and it should give kids some options,” he says. “It could be as simple as not having screens from 3 to 5 pm.” He says that simple games at home like balloon volleyball, obstacle courses, and a shoe-tying challenge encourage creativity, friendly competition, and can be done throughout the day.

Write to Jen Murphy at [email protected]

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