Excuses & Fears: Encouraging Relatives to Exercise


I was inspired by this photo that popped up as a “1 year ago” memory on Facebook.  I don’t really like to spotlight my personal life on the internet, especially on my business’s page, but I thought a lot of folks could relate. Many of us have parents who are living, and parents that are aging. This blog is about that.

As a CrossFit affiliate owner, I truly believe that ANYONE can do CrossFit.  Will everyone “like” CrossFit? Probably not, just like not everyone likes cheesecake, filet mignon, or chocolate chip cookies (crazy people in my opinion, but everyone is different).

This is a photo of my Mother and me after we did “Dirty Thirty” (a CrossFit workout) at Rock It CrossFit in Arlington, Texas (which is where she currently lives).  This was in the beginning of January 2018. She was very excited to try CrossFit again, as she’d tried it once in Cincinnati when I first started, but didn’t stick with it.

Due to my current lifestyle, a lot of people assume that I come from a long line of “exercisers”.  News Flash: I am not the offspring of high-level athletes. Here is a little background on my Mom:

- She grew up in Texas, both of her parent’s worked full time most of her childhood.  They were as health conscious as folks could be in the 50s/60s/70s, which meant Grape-Nuts, wheat bread, low fat everything, cigarettes, and yoga.   Grandma was constantly on a diet to be as small as possible (she had a TINY waist) and Grandpa did a lot of push-ups.

- My mom is a petite woman and considered a “mesomorph” which means she stays at a pretty healthy weight without too much effort and when she starts exercising and eating well, it shows.  Thanks Mom & Dad for the solid genes 😁.

- Childhood: My mom has always had severe allergies and asthma.  She has been a smoker on and off for many years.

- 2004: She was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent chemo and radiation, and is now in remission.

- 2010: She shattered her knee cap & underwent reconstructive surgery.

- 2013: Gallbladder Cancer: This was by far the hardest from my point of view.  She had a major surgery, which left her with a hernia in her midsection. There was a long period of time where she was inactive and in bed, unable to sit up.  She underwent chemotherapy again, and is again in remission.

- 2016: She moved to Texas to take care of aging parents.

- 2017: Heart Attack, stents placed in three arteries, and a follow-up surgery a few months later to have two more put in.

- She is in her 60s.  She has endured these things all while dealing with a family, as we all do (her aging parents, my Dad, my sister, and me). We are a handful.

What is the point of all this? I just wanted to share that despite all of these things, she has tried CrossFit more than once, and stuck to it for about a month each time.  The point is she TRIES. She is like all of us – she knows what she should be doing, she just needs some motivation and help developing healthy habits. She says she likes to do things on her own.  There is only so much I can do, like make her go to CrossFit with me when I am visiting, and buying a CrossFit gym and offering her a job and a free membership if she wants to move to Seattle 😁. I bring up “exercise” every once in a while, but I try to let her bring it up more often.  If it’s been a while, I’ll mention something. I am pretty mean, because I don’t let her make excuses. She’s already proved she is beyond excuses. If she can push through all the things listed above, I have trouble taking no for an answer.

Working in the fitness industry, I’ve heard all the excuses.  Part of my job is listening and differentiating lousy excuses from legitimate fears.  There’s a difference, and in order to live a healthy lifestyle one needs to address their fears – fitness related or not.  You can’t fool me and I have very little patience for lousy excuses.

Many of us have aging parents who are probably in the same state.  Encourage them to exercise. If they object, listen to their concerns and address them.  Don’t be too hard on them, but please don’t give up on them. Be kind and gentle with them.  If you are lucky enough to live close enough, invite them to work out with you, go work out with them, just do something together.  Our time is very limited with our loved ones, so try to make the best of it and do what you can to extend it.

I love the family dynamic I’ve seen at Cascade with our members.  If your parent doesn’t like CrossFit, and you love CrossFit, don’t get upset.  Be happy if they even try it. All you can do is teach them a few things, and continue to motivate them to get moving on their own.

If you’re curious about getting your aging or young family members into CrossFit, you know where to find me.  Give me a call or an email and I can help you figure out how to find a gym that will be suitable for your goals – whether it be prolonging your mom’s ability to get herself out of a chair, or help your dad get his abs back.

Hannah Heil