Chris Ryan has been a Division I athlete, graced the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine and is one of the elite trainers on NBC’s TV series “STRONG.” So you might think he lives his life in the gym, but you’d be wrong.
While he certainly puts in work at the gym, Chris is a father to his son, Achilles, with another child due this fall, and with that time commitment plus his professional career, time is of the utmost importance to Chris.
Chris, the Featured Fit Dad for July 2016, has a message to dads out there looking to lead a healthier lfiestyle: Don’t overthink your fitness. Use the environment around you as an opportunity to work on your health and fitness and save some time in the process.
Here is Chris’ story:
When did you first get into fitness?
I have always been active since I was a young kid; playing with my older brother and running around the yard. We had some fun “toys” in the basement to play with too: a boxing bag, pull up bar, treadmill, power rack, dumbbells, etc. Everything a growing boy needs to tire himself out haha!
What activities do you do to keep fit and active?
I have made fitness part of my lifestyle and formed my career around it. It is just something I “do” every day. I try to do the major big lifts at least once per week like heavy squats, pulls, presses, and deadlifts. I also do a lot of mobility/balance and coordination movements as well to stay athletic as I get older.
Lastly, I think one of the best ways to get the “dadbod” that everyone admires is simply sprinting. Find a soccer field or a track and safely build up to doing 10-15 x 100-yard sprints as fast as you can. Look at a sprinter’s physique and most people would say a lean, muscular body like that not only looks great, but is functional and keeps you athletic in very little time. I do things like this with my son in the stroller too. I just treat it as a heavy stroller aka “sled push” as well and repeat the same way. He loves it and thinks we are probably driving a race car. People in Central Park look at me like, “wait, you can run like that with a jogging stroller?” Heck yes you can! I love to lead by example. No excuses.
What is your favorite fitness memory or achievement?
I have had a few big ones that may seem to jump out like being a Division I athlete or being featured on NBC’s STRONG as a trainer. Honestly though, I look back to my favorite memory being from my childhood. I loved doing my “special Thursday” workouts with my dad after he got out of work. We would go to the track and I would be his rabbit and run all of 20-30 yards to push him in his sprint workouts. We started doing stuff like this when I was about 4 years old. This set the foundation for the rest of my life. Fitness was just something I did. Fitness was fun. Fitness made me laugh.
Now I am a dad and I already do similar things with my son, Achilles. We wrestle and chase each other around the house all the time. I see how my dad set the foundation at a young age for me doing things like this. I was so important to make me the man I am today. There is something so pure at heart about hitting a workout with your dad. That is something I look forward to whenever I can with Achilles.
What is your favorite workout?
It really depends on the day. Some days I feel like just throwing down as much weight as I can. Some days I feel like my soul needs a long trail run. At this stage of my life, time is the most important commodity for me. There is just never enough time to do everything I would like. So I find myself doing a big lift day once to twice a week and a couple hard conditioning days. And then maybe some hypertrophy/bodybuilding-style work once per week. My workouts are less than an hour, but always action-packed with little downtime. I try to include some mobility work in each and every day for my hips and shoulders too. None of us are getting any younger. Working things like mobility, balance and coordination drills are vitally important as we get older to combat Father Time.
In what ways do you hope to influence your children through fitness?
Just being an example that fitness is a lifestyle. It’s something you do, not something you dread or avoid. You don’t need to be a professional athlete or Olympian to train. Your body is a machine and a machine needs to work. I want my kids to look at their dad and be proud of who I am. You can make a conscious choice right now. How do you want your kids to remember you? I want mine to remember me as a badass dad who could crank out pull-ups and sprints with them. Not one that sat on the couch and let life pass him by.
What words of encouragement would you have for other dads out there who want to be healthy and fit?
Have fun with your kids and stop making excuses thinking you have to go to the gym for an hour or more. Training doesn’t have to be complicated. We all have busy schedules. Just throw the kids in the stroller and hit some sprints with them for a few minutes. They will be laughing the whole time, but you won’t be because your heart and lungs will want to jump out of your chest! Make a small investment into some workout equipment for your basement, garage or backyard. A jump rope, kettlebell, TRX, bands and a pull-up bar work wonders. If you have the space get a power rack too and some weights. Trust me, there is a hugely positive effect on your kids when they grow up seeing their dad throwing down workouts. They will be hitting that power rack for squats as teenagers trying to get that varsity letter.