Dad Bod or Father Figure? Balancing Fatherhood & Fitness

The feeling of dusting off your old leather jacket or retro jeans when a trend you once sported comes back onto the scene is unbeatable. Though fashion can be cyclical, many men welcomed an unforeseen style boost in 2015 when the dad bod came to light. We were now being commended for skipping the gym; abs were more desirable hidden away under a six pack of beer. Men were proud to flaunt their more natural state.


And so we should be.


A dad bod can represent a symbol of sacrifice for something you care much more about: your offspring. Balancing dad duties and an active lifestyle can no doubt be difficult. Is it a straight up choice between physical fitness and fatherhood though? We caught up with three dads, Connor, Liam and Marcus, to see the situation from their side.


How many children do you have?


Connor: I have two children, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old.


Liam: A full house for me. My eldest is 13, and keeps check on my 8-year-old and identical twin 2-year-olds.


Marcus: I have one 9-year-old son.


Do you find it difficult to balance staying fit and healthy with raising children?


Connor: Yeah, it’s difficult. You always seem to be picking the kids up or dropping them off somewhere, and it can put exercise to the back of your mind. I try to stay as active and healthy as possible though. Not just for my wellbeing, but to set the right example to my children too.  


Liam: At times, sure. It’s not always easy, but for me being part of a team helps. I train for my football club a few times per week and play each Saturday. Having the set routine helps; it’s easy to skip an evening jog or gym session when you’ve had a long day, but for me letting my teammates down isn’t an option, and gives me extra drive and enjoyment.


Marcus: At times it can be difficult, but only mentally difficult. I’m a single parent, and for the first few years of my sons life I felt like I was working hard without it helping my situation. Everything I was doing was based on how much time I would get to sleep or rest, and, being unaware that sleeping and resting were the main blockers for me to achieve my personal and parenting goals, I continued this for a number of years. Over time I realised my body didn’t need the rest I thought it did – I could handle doing more.


Have there been times where being a dad has been exhausting to the point where it has taken over your gym or exercise routine?


Connor: Fortunately, I’m a sports coach, so it’s easier for me to stay fit as part of my daily work routine.


Liam: Yes, but life is exhausting for everyone, not just parents. It’s a case of finding the time, otherwise you’ll quickly lose the habit and it’s an uphill battle from then.


Marcus: Absolutely. At first I used to beat myself up over this fact. I used to be too mentally drained to go to the gym after a full day with my son. Sometimes I would force myself to go to the gym anyway, which led to having a poor workout. I quickly learnt that this is not good for me physically or mentally, and that sometimes having a break helps more. It’s a situation that changes all the time.


Has your style changed since being a father?


Connor: I wouldn’t say my style has changed since becoming a dad as I’ve always been quite keen on fashion. I always try to make sure the children are dressed in a stylish and appropriate way.


Liam: I don’t think my style has changed, but given life now revolves around the kids and that I usually train at 8pm, I tend to get out of my work clothes and straight into a tracksuit. I love clothes, but spend a lot less time and money on shopping now.


Marcus: Yes, I’d say it has to a certain extent.


Do you have tips for other parents on maintaining your life balance whilst raising kids?


Connor: Kids are bound to take up a lot of your time, so I think it’s really important to make sure you have some ‘me time’.


Liam: Whatever you did before kids came along you need to try and find a way to maintain it and there is usually a way. I have a supportive wife who has allowed me to carry on playing sport and keeping fit so that helps massively – she knows I am a complete horror without exercise.


Marcus: Making sure you eat well and exercise will give you the energy you need to achieve what you want.


If hearing the insight of other dads helps you – or gives you a laugh – check out our shortlist of 7 Dad Blogs You Should Follow.


Keep up the dad bod, whatever that means to you.