Baby’s arrival inevitably comes with change. It can mean letting go of your pre-parent self and some of the pleasures that came along with it: freedom, spontaneity… sleep. But it can also breed incredible creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving. And freedom, well, it’s still totally attainable, as long as you have the right set of tools.
For Simon Isaacs, an impending baby meant giving up some of his “single guy” life–think professional marathons and running around the world on foot to raise awareness for safe drinking water. But it also helped him dream up Fatherly, the smart Dad site that’s quickly become a must-read for parents and parents-to-be.
For our last stop on our Bugaboo Runner tour around NYC, we hit the Rockaway boardwalk with Simon and his baby girl Kaia for a quick workout, and learned about how this Brooklyn dad keeps moving forward, now with his baby on board.
Why are you so passionate about fitness?
I grew up in Vermont and spent most of my time outside (we lived pretty remotely and our TV only had one channel). As a family, we spent a lot of time cross-country skiing–a sport I later competed in internationally–which, in turn, got me into running and racing marathons. Today, tradition is a big part of fitness for me. But being out there, running trails and pushing myself, is just a lot of fun for me.
In what way does running give you a feeling of freedom that other fitness activities can’t replicate?
I have to run and move. It’s really not a choice–it’s a big part of my inner workings. The first few minutes of a run is about shaking off whatever stress or anxiety might be taking place. It’s when I am running, with my mind free of all the clutter, that I am doing most of my creative thinking for my business, Fatherly. But the most magical thing that happens on a run is when my legs, heart and breath take the same rhythm I stop thinking altogether. That doesn’t happen everyday, but when it does, it’s pretty surreal. I’ve always wanted to be someone who could meditate–but I’ve struggled to be able to do that–so running’s my best hope.
How do you fit in time to care for yourself between parenting and your career?
Mornings are my time with my daughter Kaia. Having a jogging stroller has changed the game for me (and my family). I put her in the Bugaboo Runner , grab our dog and head out. It’s like killing four birds with one stone. She loves it, our dog gets outs, I get to exercise, and my wife gets some more sleep.
What are some things you hope to teach your little ones about being active?
I attribute a lot of who I am today and what I have done to my athletic career–and even the lessons I learned really early on. My parents, who were both artists, introduced me to being out in the wild and being active. They supported me but never pushed me at all. I’d love for Kaia to be exposed to the same sort of thing–and learn and grow in the process. I’d love for her to grow up with a deep appreciation for being healthy and active. I’d love for her to learn to push herself and for her to see what she is capable of in this way. Of course, sports and being active, is what I personally know, and I have no idea what she will want to pursue. But like my parents, I can only hope to be there and support her to dive in fully to whatever her passions become.
How has becoming a parent impacted or changed your fitness routine?
When I first learned that my wife was pregnant, I had this intense desire to be super fit by the time she was born (which I later learned is a pretty common feeling among my guy friends). But when the baby came, exercise took a back seat, particularly as my wife and I juggled two really demanding jobs. I could have done much better in staying active in those early months. Now, Kaia is a big factor and part of every decision we make or activity we do. So, finding ways to incorporate her into those things is huge.
What’s are some of your favorite NYC spots to get out there and get active with your kid?
Injury prevention is a big thing for me as a runner, and the best way to do that is to stay off the pavement as much as possible. My absolute favorite place to run is just a bit outside the city at the Rockefeller State Preserve–it’s endless miles of the most gorgeous, super wide trails you can imagine through farms and fields and along streams. It’s a super quick 45-minute drive and well worth it. We live right next to Prospect Park and are close to the Rockaways–both are really great places to work out.
Sometimes we all need to unwind. When you’re done hitting the pavement and the baby’s tucked in bed, what does a perfect end to a day look like?
We’ve started to limit our TV watching and instead throw on some music and hangout together and talk. Those nights are definitely my favorites. They seem to last longer and I feel so much better the next day. But we also both run our own businesses and are often working late into the night on things, which is the reality of it. Plus, there’s some epic shows on right now. Winter is coming.
If you could give expectant parents who are worried about losing their freedom some words of encouragement, what would they be?
The freedom you know now is gone. It’s done… never to be seen again. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to still do the things you love and get out there, but you have to let go of the past and redefine freedom a little. I think a lot of the anxiety and stress around losing freedom comes from not letting go. And I think guys have a harder time doing this, in part because we don’t have the 9+ months of physical preparation that cause us to slow down. And we unfortunately tend to take far less time off after kid arrives. So, I guess my words of encouragement are, “Get over it, buddy.”