(Pictured above: Mia Rose poses at the selfie wall at the Donelson-Hermitage YMCA.) We were a little worried at how the change in schedule for the summer would affect our fitness goals during the Fit Family Challenge. We didn’t have routines from last summer that we wanted to repeat this year. Thankfully, we are off to a good start. Going into the summer, I really wanted to continue participating in the group fitness classes at the YMCA. Nothing quite burns off frustration like kickboxing or RIPPED, and some days these classes are my only adult interaction. I hesitated because I’ve never been a big fan of drop-in child care, but I have been pleasantly surprised. The kids have loved going, and even asked to go back after their first time. The instructors have a new creative game for them to play each day, and the kids like having a variety of playmates. My kickboxing teacher does a dance class with Mia’s age group immediately following my classes, and she loves grooving to the music. The kids can hear my classes’ music and instruction, and are intrigued with what I’m doing. Both kids insist on punching and kicking the bags before we leave. Mia mimics the Body Pump class on the way out, too. It reminds me the kids are always watching and learning our behaviors. I'm hopeful we’re setting up good habits for their future. Our YMCA endeavors are a shared experience that makes me feel closer to my kids rather than feeling like I’m ditching them during my workouts. We’re making fitness a priority for the kids this summer, but the heat can be a challenge. We capitalize on early morning or evenings to avoid the heat. Asher has adopted the family focus on activity and practices his basketball every day before breakfast. Great for his health, and the neighbors are polite about the early morning sounds. We also try to take a family walk after dinner. The effects of walking can’t be overstated for health, and it’s a great opportunity for family bonding. For the middle of the day, we have tried a variety of pools with friends or swimming in the lake. Even wearing life vests it’s amazing how many calories that we burn. My morning classes at the YMCA end at 9:30 a.m., which is perfect timing for the splash pad or YMCA pool. Pump It Up is our fitness rain plan. I’ve found that I’m a lot more patient with the kids after getting my daily exercise first thing in the morning. The kids sleep so much better when they have enough activity during the day. Since they are sleeping well, their behavior is better, too. I’m enjoying this summer so much more with our current health focus, and the kids are, too. I’m thankful for the YMCA and its instructors. — Daniel Rose