In honor of Father’s Day, we’ve invited one of our favorite dads, Matt Fox, to write a special Dad’s Day blog!
Matt took the opportunity to write about his experiences – from fighting cancer to becoming a new father, from cancelling his gym membership to making a career out of bodyweight training and calisthenics.
Read about how bodyweight training changed Matt’s (and many others’) lives and scroll down to the bottom for an exclusive Father’s Day Gift – his favorite workout plan:
Health and fitness has always been huge part of my life. I played a professional sport that took me around the world for years, which was amazing. My career in that field came to a halt when I was 22. I was diagnosed with cancer – followed by an operation and a round of chemotherapy.
You can be as healthy as you like and then, all of a sudden you feel like you couldn’t be sicker.
Fast forward almost 9 years and I am still training hard as ever, the only difference is I am now a father to a 6-month old boy and husband to my amazing wife! Being a father is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, stepping into the unknown and learning as you go.
Every father out there, I’m sure, has expectations of what it is going to be like, but these expectations are never quite as you imagined. You soon realize how life changes and how you need to change with it.
Fitness and exercise were a major part of my life. I knew this needed to change too.
Here’s why adapting your fitness routine is a must for any new father:
- You need to do something just for yourself
- You need time to spend with your partner and child
- You need stamina to be energetic on very little sleep
Doing the same routine day in and day out, I had lost interest at the gym and plateaued in my workouts.
And so, 6 months before my son was born, I decided to cancel my gym membership and begin bodyweight/calisthenics style training. The best training choice I’ve ever made!
I was saving valuable time traveling to and from the gym, and had no problem getting a living room workout in. I knew there would be thousands (perhaps millions?) of mums and dads out there needing the same solution.
I’m calling BS on everything we have been led to believe about getting in shape and fitness.
You don’t need to lift weights to build muscle. You don’t need gym to get into amazing shape and improve your health and fitness.
Traditional ideas about building muscle and strength through lifting are drilled into from a young age. We see it on TV, in print and online. Everywhere we look, we see men and women with muscles and instantly we think – wow, they must be lifting huge weights.
And I don’t blame you, I was exactly the same. I thought that lifting daily at the gym was the only way to build muscle.
I would read up about the ideal number of reps and sets I should be doing to build muscle and strength. I took supplements and pre-workout. I experimented with these “muscle building diets.” Sure, it helped to some degree. Maybe the first year I saw some improvements and changes in my body, but I was never any closer to the body I wanted. Plus, the injuries always seemed to come just when I thought I was progressing. I was like millions of other people; I kept doing it because it was the only way I knew.
I dragged myself to the gym, absolutely hating it, fighting the crowds for equipment and I would literally watch the clock stand still – or so it felt. I would train for time not for effort. It became a chore and I was stuck in a vicious cycle.
I felt stuck, like A HAMSTER ON A WHEEL!
So here’s where I took the leap I now wish I had done many years ago….
I knew I had the knowledge, the training experience, and the motivation to get the body I wanted without the gym – I just had to trust myself to go against the grain.
So I quit.
I stopped going to the gym, I cancelled my membership, and I stopped lifting weights and jumping on fancy equipment. THAT WAS THAT!
Ok, sweet, then how? This is where the science comes in…
When we lift, we push our muscles to the point of exhaustion. We are technically ripping and tearing the muscle fibers, then they repair themselves and grow back stronger. Resistance is necessary to accomplish this.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that your own bodyweight is more than enough resistance to break down these muscle fibers. The fact is, I’ve seen people with huge muscles barely be able to do a single pull up!
See, working with your own bodyweight is the absolute definition of functional training. All the movements prepare your body for everyday tasks (such as carrying around your child all day), I don’t know how often the average person does a bicep curl outside the gym but I’m pretty sure it’s not often!
Not only does bodyweight training help with functional strength, but it also BUILDS SERIOUS MUSCLE. It helps prevent injury for this very reason, it works in the movements and dynamics the human body is supposed to move in!
Ok, so if bodyweight training does build muscle, then surely you would have to spend hours every day doing it right? WRONG!
You can actually spend less time working out and get better results using bodyweight.
Because bodyweight workouts don’t just isolate single small muscles, like a lot of your standard weight lifting and gym equipment. They use multiple muscle groups as well as the muscle stabilizers – such as tendons, ligaments and joint actions – to perform the exercises. So you’re working out multiple muscle groups in the same time as you would be using one muscle group on gym equipment! IT’S A WIN-WIN, less time exercising for better results!
And here’s where it gets even better!
There are countless bodyweight exercises and workouts that not only help increase muscle and strength but also work your cardiovascular system at the same time. So you’re torching calories, burning fat and getting stronger- IT’S A HANDS DOWN WINNER!
Want to put bodyweight exercises to the test?
Here are 3 of my absolute FAVORITE bodyweight circuits (Download PDF):
If you are interested in learning more about bodyweight training, head on over to Matt’s website for more details. Be sure to check out Matt’s Instagram for daily workout inspiration as well as swoon-worthy pics with his son, Harley!