How CKO Working Parents Balance It All: Part I

CKO Kickboxing has a variety of people who attend classes. From college students to retirees and everything in between. Included in that are parents. CKO classes are no stranger to members who are parents that are killing it in the gym, at home, AND at work. It is truly inspiring to see how they manage to balance it all. We reached out to five working parents who amaze us on the regular. In this three-part blog series, they share their personal experiences and what has been effective for keeping their priorities in check.


How do you balance kids, work, health, relationships without becoming overwhelmed?

Jennifer Thayer: Certain times of year are more difficult than others. School is always a challenge the first few weeks because we are so used to summer and doing activities and things whenever we please. I set a plan and stick to it for the week. We have a three-month calendar on the fridge where I put my activities and obligations, as well as our family stuff. I include my CKO workouts on it so my family can also plan for the week.

Each Sunday I schedule my workouts by booking them on the CKO app. Once they are booked, I am more likely to truly prioritize them. One thing the winter 2018 10-week Transformation Challenge did for me was explain how vital meal prep was in order for me to reach my goals. As a result, I prep my lunches for the week and set up a plan for dinners and prep as much of that on weekend mornings as I can when I have time.

As a teacher, I could work 24/7 and never have enough time to get everything done for my job. This last year I told myself I will give a half hour daily outside of school, and if I can’t fit it in, then it happens the next day. It’s made a huge impact on my time for myself and for my family. It allows me time to fit in workouts.

I made “me” a priority. I schedule at least two to three nights of CKO during the week and one weekend class. My husband works at 5 AM, so I am not able to work out at CKO in the mornings but will sometimes get on my treadmill or exercise bike for about 20-30 minutes before I get my kids up to get ready for school if I know I can’t get to CKO that night. I also make time for my friendships. I try once a week to do something with friends, even if it can only be for an hour or two.

Jenn Herring: Let’s be honest: It isn’t easy! I have a great family with lots of support. I decided long ago that early mornings were the best time for me to squeeze in “me time”, so after work is family time and I don’t feel guilty. Now that I am used to getting up early, I cannot imagine life without my morning sweat sessions. I strongly believe you have to take care of yourself first so you are able to take care of others.

Meal prep is key to eating healthy during the week in a timely manner. I prepare and cook my weekday lunches on Sundays and I make sure I have things (fruit and veggies cut up, or gathered) in order for quick grabs for snacks and preparing dinner so my time isn’t spent during the week in the kitchen. The kids will grab whatever is easiest when they get home, so I try to have healthy, easy options available for them after school.

Michael York: I try to prioritize things into just that order. I’m a single parent with a half time parenting schedule. I tend to increase focus on relationships and trips to the gym on the days that I don’t have my kids, but on days I do, they’ll come with me to the studio. The intensity level can be so varied at CKO that it fits anyone. I’ve brought my girlfriend, my niece, my buddy and they all had fun at the bag next to me.

Bringing someone along never stopped me from training at the level I wanted, either, which is something you can’t get from running or biking together. Someone always gets left behind or if you stick together, you might not get the workout you wanted. Kickboxing is really something I’ve turned to because I’m a little burnt out from my normal go-to workouts. Most adult recreational activities don’t train this energy system. Lifting is focused on power and running on endurance. This is a good mix. It’s the first time that I’ve done any activity since HS wrestling that does that.

Carley Heinz: Planning ahead!! My husband and I both value our gym time, and we make sure we both get the chance to make it three to four times per week. We always look at the week ahead and set the schedule, including who will get the kids from school or daycare and run them to their activities. Once it is decided which classes jive with my schedule, I book those classes in advance which helps with accountability. When my husband works weekends, the kids come to class with me.

Marielle Shuster: I am a planner. I have found that if you do not plan your workouts, meals and even family time, life easily gets away from you. I’ve also learned what fits in my schedule, with my commitments to my salon and family, I know a realistic goal for me is to workout four days a week. I used to feel bad because I felt I could do more but, I had to let that go! You need do what works for you!


What keeps you motivated to regularly attend CKO classes?

Jennifer Thayer: I love my CKO family. I love the workouts. I am the person who can’t sit still. I love workouts that are high energy and found this to be perfect for me. About a zillion years ago I was on the Tae Bo craze and it was my favorite workout to do both in the gym and at home with videos. I stumbled upon the downtown CKO while heading to check out my friend’s new brewery, City Built. I said to the friend I was with, “WE HAVE TO DO THIS!!!!” but was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it work being so far from my house, my family, and work obligations. About a week later I saw the sign for the CKO South location, which is about a mile from my house. The rest is history.

I have gained so many wonderful friends through CKO and it keeps me motivated to go.  It’s time for myself. I enjoy the workouts and the music so much that the hour of class flies by! A couple of us have a group text to check in with each other to see when we are going to class. This holds each other accountable to our workouts. Having friends there makes it so much more fun. Everyone at CKO have been so nice and friendly from the start and that helps because I am typically a pretty shy person with strangers.

I also like that I can go at my own pace during class. I have knee issues and am still able to get a great workout in, even with modifications. There are some days where I am a rockstar and then there are days I struggle. On days I struggle, I think to myself, “I am here, and I am making time for myself.” Even when I am tired or know that I have a million and one things to do, I show up because my health is important to me.

Marielle Shuster: I love the community that CKO has created. I now not only look forward to a killer workout, but I look forward to seeing the friends I have made through CKO. We help keep each other accountable and schedule our workouts together. This way you will be meeting someone there, which makes it much harder to hit snooze or cancel.

Carley Heinz: CKO classes are amazing. They push me the hardest I have ever been pushed during a workout. Fortunately, the trainers are so motivating that they make me want to keep going and get faster and stronger. Through CKO I have seen such amazing results including lower BMI, weight loss, lower cholesterol, muscle definition, increased overall strength (I can do more than 10 push-ups on my toes, I couldn’t do one when I started), and reduction in stress.

Michael York: My weight has fluctuated over the years where I will get into something, then, when work or relationship stress got too much, I’d eat for comfort and discontinue the daily workouts. No other workout, including running, cycling, and weightlifting, has made me feel like I was getting in shape from the inside out like kickboxing. It’s also new enough that it is not the same old. I never was taught how to throw a punch until I was in my 40s. It is a skill set that is always ready for improvement.

Jenn Herring: This workout is like no other! I love the instructors and participants at CKO. There is a real sense of community and camaraderie when I walk into the studio. The classes provide enough variety and intensity to keep me interested and continually challenge me in both mental and physical ways, and let’s not forget about the stress relief of getting it all out and leaving that stress on the bag.


Stay tuned for the next two parts in this three-part blog series. In the meantime, are you interested in attending a CKO class? Click Here to sign up today!

Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast