Ben Lucas is a scarily fit guy. Following his career playing NRL for the Cronulla Sharks, he’s run 40-odd marathons and become the founder of Flow Athletic – a fitness experience that combines strength, fitness and yoga. Yet despite that all-action pedigree, Ben admits that having two kids in quick succession (he’s got a three year-old son and one-year-old daughter) still totally derailed his fitness regimen.
“Did it affect my training ? A hundred per cent!” he laughs. “I’m only just getting back on track now, years later.”
The explanation behind Ben’s lapse will be familiar to any father (namely: lack of time + crushing exhaustion = dad bod).
“When you become a dad, your priorities shift as you realise that life isn’t just about your needs,” he says. “You prioritise time with your family over time that you could be exercising.”
But you can bounce back from the blur of early fatherhood. Here, Ben shares his tactics to reboot your fitness regimens.
Get your partner’s support
“You need to get the buy in from your partner and family that having time to exercise isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for you to be a better father and husband. It’s important for your partner as well. You need to get together to work out how you can both exercise consistently week in, week out
“When you don’t exercise you’re more lethargic and your mental health isn’t as good. You don’t have that energy for your family, so by ensuring you get your workouts in, you’re actually doing them a favour.
“But you’ve got to be realistic about your time limitations too. Since becoming a dad, I’ve cut out the ultra-marathons, for example. I wouldn’t go out for a three hour run now, I’ll just got for a 30 minutes instead.
If you’ve been out of action for a while, take it slow.
“When you try doing too much too soon, you get injured or it’s just really unenjoyable. You don’t have to start doing 10km or 20km runs. Start small, be consistent, and then just slowly ramp it up.
“Right now, for example, I’m training this really nice guy who’s pretty big. He’s never run further than one kilometre before, but I’m training him to run the New York Marathon next year.
“So week one, we’re only doing 30-minute sessions in which we jog for one minute then walk for two minutes. Week two we’re doing one minute on, and 1:50 off and just increasing the length by 10 seconds a week. You might think, ‘Shit, that’s not much.’ But guess what? Over a month, over two months, you’re just bumping it up incrementally but consistently. Before you know it, you’ll reach great heights.”
Train with a purpose (and a mate)
“I’m a big proponent of setting objective goals. Whether that’s hitting a certain weight or body-fat percentage or training for an event like the City to Surf or a Half Marathon. Having a set objective gives you a sense of purpose.
“It’s also great to have a support network, too. Whether you’re training with a friend, joining a run club, or seeing a personal trainer, having that accountability means you’re more likely to get out of bed and get it done.”
Include your family
“Exercise and family doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive For example, I did the City to Surf pushing my son, Oliver, in a pram. He had an absolutely phenomenal day – he still talks about it now and I got a great workout as well.”
“I now run and swim with my kids. It’s a way to spend some quality time together as well as getting some exercise.” (For more tips about running with your kids check this story about the man who ran the world’s fastest half-marathon with a baby stroller.)