No Pain, No Gain – The Uncomfortable Joy of Taking Your Teen Daughter to the Gym

There comes a time in a dad’s life when you get to experience the joy of taking your kid to the gym with you. There doesn’t appear to be a scientifically agreed upon age at which you should do this so you’ll have to play it by ear. I’d like to think we all know that it’s probably not the best for your kid to be doing dead lifts at age 5, but you never know. Your best bet is to wait for their bodies to at least catch up to the size of their heads. Depending on your level of overly-aggressive testosterone-filled arrogance to push your kid to meet your delusional levels of stardom, your first opportunity probably won’t happen until they are well into their teens.

As they move from clumsy toddlers randomly kicking dirt to coordinated and driven high school athletes, you’ll start to contemplate the viability of a weight training regimen. I recently hit this point in parenthood. My daughter was midway through her first year of track and I thought it would be a good idea to take her to the gym and do some weights. I quickly found out this can be both enjoyable and downright uncomfortable.

So let’s break it down and take a look at the pains and gains, starting with the gains.


  • Improved fitness – Obviously she gets a boost from working out and hopefully you do too. Don’t simply play the role of personal trainer.
  • Quality time – There are numerous benefits of spending time with your daughter in situations like this. You are working together to accomplish something that tests you mentally and physically. You are doing something out of the ordinary on a one-to-one basis. There is real opportunity for connecting, and to actually talk to each other, without the standard random mumbles while holding your phones.


  • You are at the gym with your daughter

Yep you got it. Only one pain, but it’s a big one. Let’s face it. Gyms have a reputation for being meat markets. You have a room full of men in overly tight X-Medium shirts grunting, sweating, and generally acting prehistoric. They flex, they puff up their chests, they preen in front of the floor length mirrors, and they swing big weights around mostly to impress others in the room. Those others are typically the women in the gym. You can’t tell me half the men in the gym aren’t checking out the women. In fact, I’ve seen guys go to the gym and barely work out. They spend most of their time holding their head in one position as their eyes go elsewhere. Perhaps the women are doing the same thing but I’m only an authority from the male perspective.


Given my understanding of the environment for which we were located, I was constantly on alert. There would be no hamstring machines, there would be no hip exercise machines, and there damn sure wouldn’t be any squats. Maybe I was being overly paranoid and a tad bit overprotective. I just wanted to make sure nobody was even thinking of catching a glimpse of anything anywhere near where we were.

Maybe this is just part of being a dad with daughters. I don’t know. What I do know is that was the first and last time we went to the gym together. I don’t believe this is due to my overblown, and (granted) slightly irrational, thoughts but rather due to our busy schedules. I would be open to going with her again. It was fun. But then again, I just may not want to experience that level of pain again for the perceived gain.


The Beginning
About Jeff Stephens

I'm a proud dad blogger from the Washington DC area. I work full time during the day as a Solutions Architect for a large IT systems integrator and spend all other time with my wife and 2 teen daughters. My website,, is dedicated to all those parents that are experiencing the craziness of raising kids in today’s non-stop world. The intent is to show that it is possible to be an awesome parent, excel in your career, AND pursue your passions. Insight, advice, and stories from the frontline provide a humorous and (sometimes) informational slant on navigating daily family chaos.


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