Prioritizing Your Health Is Not Selfish

Train anywhere, no excuses

If you’re familiar with my material, you’ve certainly seen me highlight the potential of low-tech workouts that can be performed almost anywhere. I’m a big believer in training wherever you are with whatever you have. Yet, I don’t promote this message because of ill feelings towards any particular gym or establishment. I have nothing against anyone who trains at a commercial gym. Instead, I highlight home based workouts to dispel the myth that busy parents don’t have a time or place to exercise. It takes less time to perform a set of pushups than it does to explain why you won’t. 

Health Is Wealth

Few things bother me as much as an adult who views exercise as a selfish activity that interferes with their parenting. For example, I recently read a Facebook comment from a mother who stated the following:

“I used to love the gym, but my priorities changed as a parent. I’ll pick time with my son over the gym any day.”

Parents such as the mother quoted above should not feel guilty about prioritizing their health. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s also not selfish to lead by example. Children pay more attention to what you do than what you say. Active parents are much more likely to raise active children. If you want your kids to grow up to become healthy, strong, and vibrant, start by showing them the way. They will remember what you did long after they’ve forgotten what you said.

Manage Your Time

As a parent, business owner, and coach, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know what busy meant until I had kids. Everything changes as a parent. My life revolves around my children. Yet, like many busy parents, it seems like there are never enough hours in a day. There’s always something else that needs to be done.

Therefore, when I see a parent complain about not having time for the gym, I can somewhat relate. Speaking for myself, it would be very difficult for me to exercise at a commercial gym. There really isn’t a convenient time in the day (or night) for me to drive across town to train for an hour. I’m busy throughout the day and I’m on the fields coaching almost every night of the week.

It is much more convenient for me to exercise at home. I don’t need to commute anywhere to perform pushups in the driveway or lift weights in the garage. I can exercise in front of my kids, with my kids, or even when they are sleeping. I can always make time for exercise without interfering with my parental duties.

Gain Time, Don’t Lose It

Unlike the mother quoted above, I don’t view exercise as time away from my children. I actually feel that I gain time with my kids by staying physically fit. It’s much more fun to be the father who plays outside with his kids instead of the one who sits on the sidelines because he’s unable to keep up.

In other words, the investment that I make in exercise repays itself exponentially by adding much more to the relationship that I have with my kids. I’m able to do more things with them simply because I am healthy enough to keep pace. And even more importantly, my kids learn the benefits of health and fitness by seeing and living that lifestyle themselves.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I’m certainly not suggesting that parents should avoid commercial gyms. My real hope is that more parents take the initiative to take better care of themselves. As a father, I consider it my job to promote a healthy lifestyle to my children. A busy schedule is no excuse for me to overlook this responsibility.

If we truly wish to improve future generations, we all need to step up and lead by example. Fortunately, you can do so without ever leaving your home. There are plenty of effective and time efficient options that can be performed anywhere with almost anything.

Don’t use your inability to get to a gym as an excuse. And don’t be foolish enough to think that taking care of yourself is selfish. You may not realize it now, but improving your own health is one of the best gifts you could ever give your children.


“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn


  1. Awesome post, Ross. If people could break away from the thinking that they NEED a commercial gym and a full hour to workout, it will open up a whole new world. It’s sad, but just ignorant when people who want to get fit automatically think that they have to have time to commute to the gym, a solid hour workout (most of which is chatter at the water fountain), time to change, and commute back home or to work. It can be so much quicker and easier! Thanks for opening the eyes of the blind.

  2. Some of the best moments I’ve had as a parent have been while working out–with my kids. The joy of scaled foot races with the family. Doing push ups along side my sons (and then with the little one on my back). The laughing and goofing around while working the focus mitts. Helping them gain the accomplishment of learning to jump rope. Along with so much more. It’s all priceless. And, as you mention in the article, my own training shows them the benefit of hard work. If I don’t show them how to prioritize things in life, how will they learn? Leading a healthy, active life and raising children are not mutually exclusive; they are mutually enriching.

  3. Ross, my first time commenting on your website. First, let me say I appreciate all you do getting the word out there about fitness. Please keep doing what you do. As far as this article is concerned, I can tell you from personal experience that this is so true. Just this past weekend while I was spending time with my daughter we were playing a board game inside and she insisted we go out to the garage and have a pull up contest. She’s 7 by the way. We ended up working out for about an hour doing pull ups, working on rings and skipping rope. One of the funnest and most enjoyable workouts I’ve ever had. I guess she is paying attention to what I do!

  4. Great article Ross,

    as a parent I can also relate to the ”I do not have the time for gym statement”. I do have time for kettlebell yard session, bodyweight training in the park or in the schoolyard, forest and mountain hikes/run, camping and all that with my son by my side. I’ d like to see gym that can beat that.

  5. Ross, as I dad of two, I couldn’t agree more! What your article has done however, has started a heated debate between me and my partner. I have been informed that this argument, although completely true, doesn’t quite work the same way for a woman. The never ending chores a mother of two has, doesn’t leave much in reserve for taking 20 minutes out to fit a workout into the day. I know she has tried hard to do this, but is constantly hit by one or the other needing something more important than the next set of burpees. However, this is constantly being challenged and we’ll get there.

    1. Tony,
      Why not take 20 minutes out with your wife rather than separately (which it sounds like). Women can always do push-ups, jump rope, shoulder presses with the kids, squats with the kids. You’ll be surprised at how quickly kids love to get involved with both parents from a very early age. Their attempts at push-ups are hilarious and definite future home video laughs but above all they see mom and dad being active as a positive thing.
      If 20 mins isn’t possible then 10 mins every other day. Good luck.

      1. Overcoming the fear of what others may think of you opens up a whole new world of exercise options. I put my guys on the swings at the park and try to do a Burpee per push. I certainly hear about it if I am going too slowly.
        How many pull ups can I get in in the time it takes for them to get to the top of the climbing frame and back down the slide?

        A trip to the park leaves everyone exhausted!

  6. Agree, Agree, Agree! I have my homemade suspension set hanging from a small storage shed in my and an old beat up weight set that I keep neatly outside as well. I can watch my 4 1/2 yr. old play with his tractors while I deadlift etc.. I know he’s watching, and this makes me happy. Also, when he gets tucked and I kiss my wife good night my ass gets to that shed and I crank out a good 30-45 min. session. It really is that simple. We all have 86,400 secs to spend as best we can. 2700 seconds goes to working out for me.

    P.S. I still use Never Gymless. Some of my shed implements are from that book! lol!

  7. Well I am definitely half way there. I don’t feel the need to go to a commercial gym but I do feel I need the full hour and that prevents me from getting my workout in. However I try to be active and do manual chores like splitting wood.

  8. I totally agree. I would need to travel at least an hour and a half to get to a gym. I train at home with mostly homemade equipment and while I’ve never told my children they should exercise, they are all active. They mostly ride their bikes but my eldest (13) likes training with the jump rope and heavy bag. He won “The Most Complete Athlete” at school a couple of years ago. My daughter (11) won 4 out of 6 PE competitions at school this year and my youngest son (8) can do pull-ups. Life is seriously busy with children but they know it’s what I do. If it needs to be early in the morning, late at night or a quick 10 minutes before dinner, then that’s what it is. I don’t know if they will remain active but I am proud that they are all physically capable.

  9. I stumbled across this article. I’m a stay at home homeschooling mom of 4. Ages 7 and under. I needed to see this article. I have used this as an excuse for years. My life is busy but I needed to make my health a priority. I thought it could wait but it can’t. I also struggled with feeling selfish. I’ll get over it. If I don’t have time to make it to Y. I do a quick Kettlebell workout with jumping jacks and planks while getting dressed. I remember everyone has the same amount of time each day. When my kids are grown I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in bad health. Tip for guys. Let’s your wives when you take over so she can go take care of herself. It made the world of different. I now come home to a decent house, kids fed, and in bed. It makes a world of difference. I don’t feel bad about leaving to one hour of gym time.

  10. In the last few years, my work schedule has made it hard for me to work out the same way I had in the past. Back then I could expect to hit the gym at a regular time a few times a week, and I knew I could go when the gym wasn’t busy. I’ve just had to adapt a bit. For days when I’m really busy, I do jump rope and calisthenics circuits – cheap, simple equipment I can use at home.

    And you make great points about needing to take care of yourself. You can’t really take care of someone else if you’ve neglected an adequate amount of self-care.

  11. Hi Ross,

    I am the father of a 1.5 years old son. Me working out at home seems to be the highlight of his day. My workout room is his favourite place to be.
    When I jump rope, he is jumping too. When I go for heavy squats, he is performing bodyweight squats. He loves the thick manila rope, tries to copy the pike press movement and you should see what he does to the heavy bag 🙂

  12. Hey Ross,
    In your life as a coach/athlete/sports enthusiasts did you see many power lifter/body builder types training Brazilian Jiu jitsu? Are those kind of builds good at it or does bjj create more swimmer/cyclist types of physiques?

  13. Imagine someone saying, “I don’t eat anymore because I’m just to busy to go to a restaurant.” Substitute “exercise” for “eat” and “gym” for “restaurant”. It should sound just as silly.

  14. Hey Ross! I can completely relate to this because it took me a while to get my head around it. I’ve been training for a year now and it always seemed like something else was a higher priority than the weight training session. It felt like I had to give time to everything else but training because it never upset anyone, not even myself.

    I had to write life’s priorities down on paper and read them everyday for a week to remind myself that my fat loss goal came first; before studying, before the better half, before seeing mates. Eventually, those who love you will understand and still be by your side. The perceived urgency around doing something doesn’t seem as urgent anymore. Most importantly, if you can’t look after yourself how are you going to look after those around you in the long run?

  15. Ross is right. It’s all about time management. I have 5 kids all under 10. It’s about making time. And I couldn’t do it alone–my wife and I work together to make the time.

    Great post Ross. Someone made that exact comment not more than a week ago to me about being selfish with my time. I was feeling kind of bad about it until I read this post.

    I don’t care what people say, there is internet/TV/Video game/Candy crush time that could be substituted for exercise. Part of it is pushing ourselves to do it even when we’re tired.
    That’s just me though, I can’t speak for everyone.

  16. It is interesting how some people view this. My fitness is a priority and personally I love the gym, but I find the criticism comes more from other people more than me thinking it’s selfish.

    People telling me ‘you goto the gym too much’ ‘have you been working out 24/7’ and other dumb things.. but funnily enough it’s mainly people who look like they have never worked out in their life so it’s mainly their own insecurities.

    I don’t have kids, but I do see there is definately people who want to try to bring you down when you are fit in general. Though i’ve noticed people who are in shape themselves are the encouraging ones so i’ve learnt to ignore the opinions of the people trying to criticize me.

  17. Hey Ross,

    I’m a little late to the party but I just stumbled upon this article. Well written and I couldn’t agree more. It’s wanting to be the best example for my kids. That’s what pushes me everyday. I can’t help but shake my head at comments such as the one you referenced. I think people like that were always going to the gym for the wrong reasons. To look good and be fit for others instead of themselves. I like to think I have an ‘inner scorecard.’ The healthier I am on the inside and out the better parent I can be.

    Keep the blue side up.

  18. You know I need to be a better example with my kids. I have let myself go and do go to the gym. However I could be an example doing push-ups planks etc at home.

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