After the second time in a month when my daughter, Sophia, asked for a note to sit out of gym class, I asked her what was going on. She told me sixth graders were running the mile, and as the slowest one in her class, she was too embarrassed to try again.
No one made fun of her, but she was always one of the last kids to finish while the other kids watched from the bleachers. She's a smart kid, and she likes spending all her time inside, reading and working on the computer. I've tried to limit her screen time to get her outside and moving by having her join the middle school soccer team, but she doesn't have a natural competitive streak so she wasn't really motivated. I even tried to talk to her gym teacher but the coach was dealing with huge class sizes and just didn't have time to give Sophia special attention. I was worried that if I didn't figure out a way to get Sophia interested in being active, it could negatively impact the rest of her life. Instead of telling her to push herself until she gets sick in gym class, I got her a subscription to Aaptiv, an audio workout app for her phone. They have fitness-instructor guided programs for doing workouts, motivating you through runs, teaching you how to stretch and more.
I've been using Aaptiv for a while, including to help me train for the annual charity 5k. The app has been a godsend for staying engaged during cardio training because I lose motivation on the treadmill after 2 minutes of going at it alone. The Top40 music and trainer's encouragement helped me so much, I thought it would work for my daughter too. I had Sophia download the app to her phone, and we browsed together some of the different programs and classes. They add 40 new classes a week, so there's always something new. Sophia wanted to try one that would help her run a mile, and we decided to do it together.
When she got home from school, before doing her homework, the two of us changed into exercise clothes, and then went outside. Sophia put the earbuds into her ear and was pleasantly surprised to find that every program has a soundtrack of music she actually likes. It's not just elevator music; they have all the biggest artists like Cardi B, Sia, and Britney Spears.
So she wouldn't feel self-conscious, I ran on the same track, keeping my eye on her while letting her go at her own pace. I know she's gotten embarrassed in the past when she feels like people are watching her, so the app was a good way for her to get the motivation and pro-tips she needed without having to work with a trainer. The audio instructor was such an expert, that the moment she started to feel a little out of breath from jogging, she was guided to walk. Sophia is a slow runner, but by alternating between jogging and walking, she was able to run faster for shorter bursts of time, which kept her from getting as tired and helped her build stamina.
When we did our lap and made it back home, Sophia found that her favorite band, Pentatonix was the soundtrack to an ab strength workout, so she did it alone in her room. I was so relieved that my daughter, especially at the tricky age of 11, was finding a healthy way to exercise. Three times a week, Sophia and I went for a guided run together, and after two months, she was able to run a mile without stopping for walk breaks!
Sophia's excited to try the mile-run at school again next year, which is a huge improvement from asking me to write her out of class. In the meantime, she's devouring every workout with a Pentatonix playlist they have, and also working on how to do the basics, like a proper push-up. Aaptiv has given me peace of mind that my daughter is going to have fun exercising, and will start the 7th grade on a physically and emotionally healthy track.