How Fit Moms Get Their Kids Moving

Family Health, Featured Article, Fitness, Healthy Living, News and Advice
on April 4, 2011
iStock Photo

"It'a all about trying to make it fun!"

Dancing With the Stars champ and Olympic gold medal ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi may not be cha-cha-ing or fox trotting much these days, but she is doing a dance moms across the country know all too well: balancing family, home and work.
Keeping her kids healthy is a priority for the 40-year-old mother of Keara, 7, and Emma, 5. When her girls need encouragement to exercise, Kristi gets creative. “It’s all about trying to make it fun,” says Kristi, who recently released her first fitness DVD, Kristi Yamaguchi: Power Workout. “We live on a hilly road so we walk the street up the hill. We write down a list of things to find on the walk—kind of like a scavenger hunt. It may be a cat, or yellow flowers. It’s a way to get us out in the fresh air and moving around.”

Having athletes as parents doesn’t hurt, either. Not only was Kristi winner of the all-around gold in the 1992 Olympic Games, but her husband is retired pro hockey player Bret Hedican of the Carolina Hurricanes. “You have to set the example,” Kristi says. “When I’m exercising at home, they’ll come down and join me—they’re not doing it properly but it’s fun to let them improvise.”

While she keeps up with Dancing With the Stars Season 6 partner Mark Ballas (“I saw him just a couple of nights ago”), Kristi hits the ballroom just once a year or so—mostly, she says, for charity events.

“The farther I get from it, the more I’m forgetting everything,” she says. “It was such an incredible experience.”

— Kristi Yamaguchi, mom to Keara, 7, and Emma, 5, and Olympic gold medal figure skater and "Dancing with the Stars" champ


Make it a date.  “When my girls were little, they always wanted to be with their friends, so I’d call up the friends’ parents and say, ‘She’ll take dance if your daughter does,’ or ‘She’ll play lacrosse if your daughter does.’” 

Denise Austin, mom to Kelly, 20, and Katie, 17, and author of Get Energy!: Empower Your Body, Love Your Life


Play gym class. “I recently taught Max about ‘burpees’ — also known as squat-thrusts — and that evening the whole family had a ‘burpee-off’ to see how many we could do in a minute.”

Jillian Moriarty, physical therapist, mom to Max, 5, Hayden, 2, and 8-week-old Jack, and creator of On-The-Move-Munchkins, a DVD for moms and kids


Get competitive and creative. “When my kids were younger, I rounded up all the neighborhood kids and did an Olympics-themed summer camp. We had ribbons, medals, and fun competitions, like Big Wheel races and slide jacks on the Slip-n-Slide.”

Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain-Free Body


Share your passion.

“My favorite way to get my daughter, Isabella, moving is to be active with her! We will take a bike ride or walk in the park together or crank up Katy Perry and dance around our living room. This way we get to have good family time and both get some exercise.”

—Ellie Krieger, mom to Isabella, 9, star of Food Network’s "Healthy Appetite" and author of the new book, Comfort Food Fix

RELATED: Ellie Krieger's Sweet Potato Casserole with Meringue Topping


Give ‘em what they want. “When it comes to fitness, it’s OK to use bribes sometimes. Like, ‘Let's go for a hike or bike ride, and afterward I'll take you to the … ’ movies, beach, nail salon, whatever works.”

Kathy Smith, mom to Katie, 21, and Perrie, 18 and star of Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong