Fit Families: Fun, Flavorful, and Healthy Living Made Easy

a family exploring the Ulupō Heiau State historic site

by Jenny Ostlind, CSCS, NSCA, Membership and Healthy Lifestyle Program Executive, YMCA of Honolulu

Incorporating fun, fitness, and family bonding time into your children’s daily routine can be simpler and more enjoyable than you might think. Living in Hawaii, we are fortunate to have access to an assortment of indoor as well as outdoor activities year-round. Enjoying the beach twice a week, running a mile, kicking a ball further than ever, shooting hoops are just a few ideas. Improvement of mental health, agility, coordination, stronger bones and muscles, better focus, quality of sleep, teamwork and stress reduction are a few benefits we gain from our exercise regime. The YMCA is committed to the health of our community, and with the following tips, you can effectively promote fitness, healthy eating, and family bonding in engaging ways.

Trailblazing Together

Enjoy a hike or neighborhood walk where you can get moving, laugh and enjoy one another. Our islands are blessed with some of the best hiking trails. A simple hike can be turned into a memorable nature discovery journey, allowing an excellent workout while introducing your family to our native Hawaiian flora. These activities not only foster respect and sustainability for our natural resources but also provide opportunities for physical fitness.

Fitness as Fun Games

Who says fitness can’t be fun? Transform fitness into a game to spark interest. If your keiki is missing their sports team, make a game of it to improve a skill. Conduct friendly contests that can be as simple as backyard or living room relays, including sit-ups, push-ups, and wheel-barrel partner races. Encourage your children to invent their games, fueling their creativity and making exercise an enjoyable and varied experience.

Virtual Engagement

Virtual exercise classes are an excellent motivational tool, with a sense of unity in family fitness, all from the comfort of your home. YouTube is an excellent resource. Our YMCA360 live-stream and on-demand virtual program is a Y membership benefit, offering over 1,500 classes and activities, including fitness classes, sports, art, dance, cooking, martial arts, and science activities for kids and families. Mix it up and try a few different formats: Strength, Mind Body, Cardio, High Intensity, and Dance. We often find new friendships in those classes!

a YMCA instructor teaching a drums class to kids
YMCA Healthy Kids Day offers families a free day of fun, fitness, and enrichment at the Y.

Let the Beat Move You

Listening to music during exercise can be a welcomed distraction or driving force during a workout. Music can encourage dynamic movement, improve training and performance, and alter perception of fatigue. Music can also help us calm our bodies, thus increasing focus and flexibility during a mind body session.

Embrace Staycations

Who says you need to leave the house for an adventure? Create a mini adventure in your backyard or living room. Organize a tent camping session with smores and fun activities like storytelling, goofy songs, and dances. Or better yet, a family weekend staycation at Camp Erdman offers private cabin accommodations, meals, snacks, and a range of activities, including swimming, archery, hiking, arts and crafts, high rope challenge courses, and tower climbing.

Fueling Your Family

Fitness isn’t just about moving – it’s about eating right. Designate a day for cooking nutritious family meals together. This can also be a great opportunity to experiment with new recipes and introduce your family to unique flavors and foods. Consider rotating the task of selecting the dinner menu among family members once a week, challenging each to incorporate nutritionally balanced ingredients into their chosen dishes.

a YMCA employee watching two children
Free child watch while you work out is a popular Y Family Membership benefit.

Dive into the YMCA

The YMCA offers an endless selection of activities to help maintain an active lifestyle. From swimming lessons for all ages, summer camps offering outdoor adventures, enrichment programs emphasizing sports, dance, and arts, to teen programs. Our Y Family Memberships provide a value-packed option that includes activities for the whole family; free child watch while parents work out, and program and camp discounts of up to 20% off.

Thanks to our generous donors, families who can’t afford the full cost of memberships and programs have a financial aid option. Our YMCA also organizes free community events each year, opening up our facilities for a day of family fun, like Camp Erdman Community Day, scheduled for Sunday, March 10, and our annual YMCA Healthy Kids Day, scheduled for Saturday, April 27. These events provide excellent opportunities for families to bond, stay active, and engage with their community.

a family finishing the ropes course at Camp Erdman
Climbing the 40-foot Alpine Tower is one of the many adventures offered at Camp Erdman Family Staycation camps.

Incorporating fun, adventure, and family activities into the daily routine makes the journey to health easy and enjoyable. Most importantly, you’ll create unforgettable memories and foster a lifelong commitment to health and wellness for your children. For more information on how the YMCA can help you reach your Keiki and ‘Ohana fitness needs, visit us at

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