Although a home gym is great for reaching your mental and physical goals, they're also great for parents and families to grow closer to one another. Will McNeely describes how his home gym has helped him grow closer to his family and become a better father through the usage of his garage gym.

Why A Home Gym is Good For Your Family

Reflecting on my younger self, my real motivations for having a garage gym seems simple enough: become bigger and stronger.

My motivation wasn’t to make a better opportunity for my family or even to say, “Wow, I can become really healthy investing in this!” It started out as something simple and likely somewhat immature. 

I’m older now, and realizing now that I’ve had a garage gym for over half of my life, I feel my simple reasons mean so much more. I started my first garage gym at age 14. Note: I’m super thankful for my parents by the way. They let their 14 year old talk them into turning their garage into some sort of Tetris puzzles of gym equipment. They didn’t teach me how to lift, but what they did was give me the environment and support that cultivated great character change for me personally. That is a whole article in itself. But what I will take from that now is that it shows the importance of family.

Like I said, my parents didn’t teach me how to lift. I didn’t grow up seeing my mom and dad train and exercise - at least in the sense of having a barbell on their back. My mom stayed active and busy raising my 3 brothers and I, while my dad stayed active and busy working long hours every day to keep food on the table. “Working out” wasn’t a part of the family vocabulary, not because they wouldn’t like it, but there wasn’t any time made for it. 

I do however remember one time when I was 7 years old that my mom took my brothers and I to go switch out vehicles with my dad one morning. I don’t remember why we had to exactly, but this was the first time I learned what a gym was - and apparently my dad had a membership there. It all happened so fast and I only got to experience the Gold’s Gym in quick passing, but it wasn’t really ever mentioned again.

I now know that my dad (for a few years when we were younger) worked out in the mornings after working nights. He would get home from the gym, then we may wrestle a bit or perhaps we would miss him since we might already be at school. But the thing is, it wasn’t talked about. The word “gym” wasn’t shared with us boys often. Neither was  “working out,” “training”, “lifting weights”, etc. Those words weren’t part of our day-to-day vocabulary. We didn’t really know anything much about that aspect of my dads life.

And as we got older, we would realize and discover the 150 LB concrete bench set stored away in the corner of the garage that my dad had bought at one time in his life when he was in Okinawa (Semper Fi). My brothers and I may have got it out and “played” with it once or twice, but it didn’t motivate us on its own. It was just some sort of novelty that we might use when we're older.

Looking back, maybe it was that one time trip of going to Gold’s Gym and seeing my dad workout or playing with the concrete bench set that gave me the idea to transform their garage into a gym at only 14 years old. I mention these short stories having to do with my parents and growing up because I remember them. Maybe even subconsciously they gave me the idea to set up a gym in the garage. At the time, there weren’t any resources available for this sort of stuff anyway, so I must have picked up the idea from somewhere.

Talking with my dad about these sorts of things today, there is plenty he wished he would have done differently with us boys growing up. One of them is that he wishes he would have worked out with us more in a structured way. My dad is playful, fun, and we sure did wrestle a lot growing up, but we didn’t learn much at all about the “working out” stuff. I guess we, like most kids, picked up our “working out” knowledge from playing sports and stuff coaches would tell us over time. 

What my dad and I have both come to realize is how important it is for your family to see you doing the good things that develop your character in positive ways. This is what my wife and I encourage each other to do for our own family today.

I’m 32 years old now. I’ve been married close to 6 years. I have a son named Rocky who will be 5 in October, a daughter named Maverick turning 3 in August, and a new one on the way in August as well. I have a family of my own and want to do my best with providing them with the environment and support that my own parents provided me. 

The story about my own early experiences with gyms and my own parents may resonate with some of you. There are more than likely some things that your own parents did growing up that were never really passed on or shared with you in the ways that they could easily transition towards your own character and become integrated in your own life in a positive way.

Today it is easier than ever before to share with your own family the gift of training and working hard to stay healthy and useful. Here at Garage Gym Built, we believe that a home gym is such a unique benefit and gift for the health and structure of your own family. 

Since strength is the basis of your interaction with reality, we believe it's important to represent what this means in practice to your own children. Men and women, old and young – everyone can enhance their will by becoming stronger through training. Children intuitively understand that stronger people tend to be more playful and can do more activities in general. They learn a lot about their own strength and usefulness through how active and strong their own parents are. Strong parents more often than not lead to strong children - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. 

We’d like to highlight some of the best benefits that we have learned from sharing the gym life with our families at home.

Character Development

Developing your character is about understanding the wholeness of your own body. With every aspect of who you are – muscle, spirit, emotion, mind – you are developing your character as well as providing your family with yourself as a model and example.

So, the fact of the matter is, you are teaching your children or spouse something about your character anytime they are in your presence. Your posture, the emotion displayed on your own face, how you talk and engage with others – all of it is helping them understand their own family story. And realize that you are still teaching them even when they aren’t in your direct presence! 

Thinking of the environment you provide them – do you have a garage gym at home? Do you live in a neighborhood right next to a walking trail? What are healthy things that you have allowed your children to experience with you or even when they are not with you? Sometimes I’ll catch my kids playing on the gym equipment in the garage or doing push–ups for fun without my even being there just because they’ve seen my wife or me do them.

Having a garage gym and purposefully involving your family is great for their own character development. Talk with them about why it's important to be strong and useful. Guide your children to consciously be aware of their own development and how they are growing in their every way – body, mind, soul, and strength. Too often we think about what we are passing on down to our children is only “head” knowledge or mere “information” transfers that will help them grow–up into adulthood. But we all should know better. Our kids really do learn wholistically even if we are not intentional at doing so. “Head” knowledge, “body” knowledge – however you want to abstract it, having a gym in your home can definitely help at developing the character of your own family, as well as possibly impacting the character of your community as well.

Monkey See/Monkey Do

As goes with the story shared above, your family learns best when they see you are consistently dedicated to it yourself. Recently, Coop did a video with HVIII Brand Goods founder Matt Vincent talking about the benefits of having a garage gym. Half way through the video, Matt ask Coop, “What gets you motivated to do this?” What Coop states is that he basically wants his wife and kids to know that the things he asks them to do and the things he would like them to do are things that he himself is doing. Coop would say to his own family, “I want you to follow me and do what I’m doing when it comes to working out. When it comes to anything in life.”

This is an important mindset to have in your own family. If your own kids grow up seeing you training and working hard, it will simply become what is “normal” for your family. As my own wife would echo in teaching our children, “This is what we do.” Allowing your children to grow up in an environment where training and staying healthy is a true part of your family mission statement is such a great gift you can give. Instilling the importance of being strong and healthy will have a lasting impact on their lives.

Rough and Tumble Play

Recently famed psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson often discusses the importance of wrestling with your children AKA “Rough-and-tumble Play.” 

“It socializes them!” he says. They develop an understanding “deep in their bones” of how strong their own bodies can be, as well as mental toughness, bodily independence, and how rough they can be without crossing the line of getting hurt and hurting others. 

Think about adding a wrestling mat or two to your own garage gym where you can just play and wrestle with your children. Allow them to have some small ownership in the gym so it becomes a place of enjoyment and learning for them. Teach them from a young age to respect the area and be mindful of why it's a good thing for the family. Your kids could learn how to respect the “platform” and how to encourage one another to become strong and healthy.

More Time with Your Family

One of the great things about having a garage gym is that it is always there. There are some nights that I get home late from work, but my family encourages me to train because they also want to train and be with me as well! Or other days, I may find several 10-minute breaks just to head out to the garage and hit a couple of exercises hard.

And sometimes it's just good to get work done before anybody else in the house is even up! My wife tells me one of the great things about having a garage gym is that as a mom, it's nice to be able to train before the kids wake up in the morning. It's a peaceful time of solitude for her that she can be consistent with and dedicated towards.

Make the time you spend in your garage training fit with your family. Practically, you save on the commute, and ideally, your creating bonding time with your wife and kids in the family garage gym itself.

Education

“Let the child by all means be taught its letters, its numbers and its maps, but on no account let it leave school and grow up to manhood or womanhood without an adequate and concise course of instruction on the means by which its own strength and value, and life and value of its children, may best be maintained.” These words are over 100 years old, spoken by Hon. P. Russell in Eugen Sandow’s book Life is Movement. 

Parents ought to be a child’s first teacher. What will you teach them? What if one of the first things you consistently talked to them about is giving them insight and understanding towards the reality of their own body?

Let us think briefly about the history of our own bodies and their relation to strength. Our bodily potential is made very apparent in seeing the natural growth of a child’s body. The baby grows in the womb of his mother and is completely dependent on her. The process of growth from baby to child by developing and acquiring strength, the range of a child’s effective will is increased. The physical difference between a baby and a toddler is that they have gained the strength to move and physically explore their world, thereby expanding their perception of reality. 

A garage gym may very well be their introduction into at least seeing (and as they get older experiencing) how their own body naturally is becoming strong and can be trained to become even stronger if given the proper direction and environment. Remember, your children are picking up their education whenever they are in your presence, and if you get them used to having them see you train hard in your garage gym - words such as squats, presses, bands, chains, etc., will become a part of their own day-to-day vocabulary.

And perhaps one day they will move from being just words, to becoming a part of their own day-to-day practice. 

For some, “garage gym” will remain words but for others who allow it, a garage gym will be an integral part in the building of their family. 

This article is just a handful of our favorite reasons for why a garage gym is a good thing for families. A garage gym can definitely be purposed to not just the building of your own strength, but towards the building of a strong family. We can’t cover every reason, but hope this sparks a much needed conversation towards building stronger families, neighborhoods, and communities.

Further reading

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