Why dads really go to the gym

Your kids are numero uno. But you still need time for yourself.

Why dads really go to the gym

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This is 60-second Dadspeak—daily reflections on becoming a dad, while still growing up myself. You can find the full mini-pod audio list here.


This evening at the gym, I saw this guy— late 30s, early 40s. He had the physique of someone who used to do a fair bit of exercise, but who’d let it slip in recent years. He was splitting his time between actually exercising and looking at his phone.

And then his young son walked up, probably 9 or 10 years old. Looked like a nice kid. He was carrying a book, and wondering what his dad was doing. And when the dad saw his son approaching, his head dropped with that familiar parental look that says, “What do you want now?”

Now, I know nothing about this dad, this boy, or their relationship. But I have no reason to believe that he isn’t usually a fairly engaged and caring father. But in that moment, he wanted to be alone. Maybe with his weights, maybe with his phone, but definitely not with his kid.

And I’ve been there. I think it’s a tension that most parents experience.

No matter how much you enjoy your children, you still need that time to yourself. That time to disconnect, to scroll through messages or videos or the daily news. Time with your mind not on your kids. Not because you don’t love them more than anything else in the world. But because you’re a dad, or a mom. And parents are still individuals, trying to figure their own shit out. And that’s okay. You need time for that too.


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