But they all have one thing in common: a passion for movement and being active.
This month’s Featured Fit Dad is Jaron, a father of two (5-year-old Liam and 1-year-old Everly) with a third on the way in just a couple months. Jaron was a gymnast growing up, which morphed into a highly successful diving career in college. As he tells you in his interview below, he holds several school records and advanced to the NCAA Regionals all four years of college.
Now that his gymnastic and diving days are behind him, he finds himself in the gym more, and he’s hoping to pass his love of movement and being active on to his two – soon to be three – children.
Here is Jaron’s story:
When did you first get into fitness?
I have always been athletic. I started gymnastics at the age of 8. I taught myself many skills in my own back yard prior to formally starting. My parents wanted to make sure I was learning safely so they enrolled me into classes. I went on to compete in trampoline and tumbling.
Unfortunately, the sport wasn’t very big in my area so I started springboard diving in high school which got me a scholarship at Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI). After graduating from college (and realizing my diving career was coming to an end), I decided to start getting more serious with weight lifting. That was about 5 years ago and I’m still working out at the gym 3-5 times a week.
What activities do you do to keep fit and active?
Besides weight lifting I love playing various sports with my son. From baseball to soccer and I also teach him in gymnastics. Although I’m no longer doing gymnastics myself, chasing around little kids and teaching them basic gymnastics skills, I definitely get my cardio in. I also workout in a gym 3-5 times a week weight lifting. Cardio has never been my strong suit, but when I get the itch, I’ll train for a 5 or 10k just to prove to myself I can do it.
What is your favorite fitness memory or achievement?
Not directly “fitness related” but my favorite memory was my success as a Division 1 diver in college. It was a challenge going to school, diving and working a part-time job at the same time. But I was able to graduate with a double major in Accounting and Finance and still hold many school records for diving. I graduated holding a few school records in diving along with advancing to the NCAA Regionals all four years I was there.
What is your favorite workout?
I honestly can’t name a favorite workout; I just love anything where I’m pushing my body to various limits. I’m not an avid runner, but accomplishing something like a 10k really makes me proud of myself. I think mixing it up has kept my interest in fitness. Standard weight lifting splits, running, plyometrics, stretching, compound lifts, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or any other variations, they’re all great. The key for me is to find what’s interesting and fun. As long as it puts me in the zone to work hard and enjoy it, I’m all for it.
In what ways do you hope to influence your children through fitness?
I want my kids to see that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring or just work. There are so many ways to keep active, and many people don’t realize how enjoyable it can be. I want my children to see the importance of fitness and how it carries over into all aspects of their life. Fitness isn’t just about having a nice physique and eating healthy, it’s a way of life that influences our minds as well. I know I’m going down the right path when my son says he wants to be strong like daddy, and he’s doing a great job with that.
What words of encouragement would you have for other dads out there who want to be healthy and fit?
To be blunt, get off your butts! There’s no quick fix, it’s going to be tough. But that’s what dads are supposed to be: tough. My advice would be to make small changes to your current daily routines. Baby steps into a healthier lifestyle. We can’t change our way of living overnight. And don’t neglect to reward yourself along the way. Set numerous goals; big and small. Make them measurable and obtainable. Having a 6-pack shouldn’t be your only goal. Make a lifestyle change that you would be proud of your kids to have. Not only does it make you feel good, but gives your child(ren) a great role model to look up to, trust me, they’re watching.
Just know that you are not alone, your children are behind you every step of the way. A healthy and fit lifestyle isn’t just about constantly hitting the gym and counting every calorie you intake, it’s about staying active. And being a dad, that’s very important. Do it for your kids, your loved ones, and most importantly, yourself.