YouTube Fitness/Productivity Advice is NOT for Parents (Opinion)

By on July 22, 2022

As a YouTuber myself, I also consume an awful lot of YouTube videos. Far too much, I’d say. And when I’m not watching videos about gaming (specifically Sonic), or movies (usually superheroes), two of the categories I watch the most of are fitness and productivity.

It’s a shame, then, that neither of these categories seems to be made for me, anymore. Why? Because I’m a parent. And nine out of ten videos in the self-improvement space tend to assume that you’re single.

Here are some of the ways that’s the case, and here are some tips to help parents calibrate their methods to their more demanding circumstances.

Snooze

Sleep

Nearly every YouTube channel in the fitness niche, probably including mine, has at some point preached the importance of getting eight hours of sleep. After all, it improves performance, it’s good for the brain, and it’s highly anabolic. All that good stuff.

Oh okay, I’ll just do that then. Good thing I’m a wizard!

Problem is, you see, my kids don’t necessarily agree with this advice and are more than happy to wake me up at 5am every morning. My son is actually the best sleeping baby I’ve literally ever heard of – we are very lucky in that regard! But even he is partial to the occasional 2am wakeup. Then there are the times one of them gets sick and pukes all over the bed in the night.

See also: Rethinking Sleep – How to Need Less of It

What am I going to do? Tell my wife it’s her turn again because hypertrophy is biphasic? I don’t think that would go down super-well.

You could say I should go to bed earlier, then. Problem is that would a) leave me with absolutely no life as I’d be going to bed immediately after doing all the chores and b) still me we had to wake up at 11pm for the “dream feed.” And I could still get woken randomly three times during the night.

So yeah, the eight hours of sleep thing isn’t happening.

Morning Routines

And don’t get me STARTED on “morning routines.” My routine involves the aforementioned 5am wakeup time, followed by 40 minutes of getting my wriggly three-and-a-half-year-old ready. We watch toothbrush songs while I sit on the toilet questioning my life choices. Meanwhile, my wife is getting the lad ready, which is equally taxing.

See also: The Perfect Morning Routine Doesn’t Exist – But Here Are Some Effective Strategies

I then make four different breakfasts while Hannah gets ready – which involves an inordinate amount of paraphernalia, including three different types of cutlery and two different bibs. Making breakfast and emptying the dishwasher. Which is fun, by the way, when you have one kid just yelling randomly in his bouncer and the other one sneaking round the house and jumping out at you (and you have to pretend to be scared every time). We have breakfast. Alex gets food EVERYWHERE and takes 40 minutes to eat. Hannah feeds Alex while they all watch PJ Masks and U get ready. Then I take Emmy to preschool and/or head to work.

Why am I tired all the tim

Not sure how I’m going to squeeze in 30 minutes of meditation in there. And I’m sorry that I’m not in a “proactive” headspace.

Honestly, I start the day feeling as though I’ve done nine rounds with Mike Tyson!

ANY Routine

In fact, getting into any kind of routine is nigh impossible! Every time I think I’ve gotten into a good groove where I’m able to consistently workout, put a good amount of time into my business, and spend time with my family… something comes up and ruins it.

Maybe we need to plan a birthday party. Or move the kid into another room. Maybe a kid has started weaning and now every night is going to be taken up making little purees. Maybe one kid has a terrible virus for a week, meaning no more preschool. Maybe we all get Covid and everything goes out the window.

I think my record is about two weeks without something going completely wrong.

Diet

How about diet? Surely as a fitness YouTuber, I understand the importance of eating steamed chicken and rice?

Problem is, my kids aren’t going for that. In fact, my son is weening, so right now he has to have some weird pureed apricot and sweet potato, while the rest of us need to eat something healthy for my daughter but that she is actually going to eat.

See also: Strategic Intuitive Eating for Lean Muscle Mass

Cooking two meals a night isn’t that easy going, and especially when we’re both exhausted. I’m not about to add a third meal on top of that! Which is why we all eat a lot of the same bolognaise and chilli concane, with the far-too-frequent cheat meals of pizza or chips and kiev.

And not to mention the fact that this is actually a nice social time, and I’d be kind of ruining it by eating bland food on my own in the corner.

Time

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t have the time to train, because that’s not true. Even with all the parenting, I get a good hour in the evening with my wife to watch TV and another thirty minutes while she goes through the shower. Both good opportunities for training, which is often how I use them.

(And, of course, this is ignoring the fact that I’m very lucky to be a professional YouTube fitness person…)

The problem is that there are so many OTHER things to do, that it’s a constantly juggling act. Do I spend that thirty minutes working out… Or playing whatever game it is I’m obsessed with at the moment? That being Shenmue 3 and Sonic Origins right now.

Or do I read the latest Dragon Ball Super manga? Or Iron Man comic? Or do I read an actually good book on Kindle? Or do I wash up in the kitchen because there’s this massive pile of glasses that can’t go in the dishwasher?

Or do I call a friend from home?

Or finally watch Mutliverse of Madness? The old Adam would NEVER have gone this long without seeing the latest Marvel movie!

It’s not that I have no time… it’s just that there are a thousand things I equally want to do. And I actually think it’s IMPORTANT to spend a little time doing relaxed things you enjoy. And to stay in touch with old friends.

I’m not about the kind of self-help that says all that stuff is a waste of time.

Goals

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that your goals completely change as a parent.

Obviously, I no longer want to workout to get women. And I’m not trying to work on my productivity to get women either. This is the underlying assumption of SO much of the self-help advice aimed at men.

And honestly, I think that the best relationships are with people who don’t need to be impressed by all that stuff. As I said before: my wife always said she didn’t like muscle men! She’s also ENTIRELY unimpressed with traditional markers of success. I love her so much for that.

Because do you know how freeing it actually is not to care about that stuff? When you’re genuinely happy with your own company, and with your family, all the stress and the urgency disappears. You don’t need to impress anyone, anymore. You can pursue the things that really matter to you.

So, what ARE my goals now as a parent?

Well, of course, I want to look after my family. That means that money IS a bigger driver than it once was, ironically. That means I need to treat this thing more like a real business and take fewer risks.

I want to buy a house with like… ZERO mould. Because my anxious brain can’t help but imagine my kids breathing it in. I want a house with a big, beautiful garden. Which also means I want a gardener. Because there just isn’t time for weeding.

As plenty of you have observed in my garden and pointed out in the comments!

Then I want to put like… a billion pounds into savings in umpteen bank accounts so that absolutely nothing can go wrong and they can have the best lives possible.

But on the other hand, I’m far less interested in traditional “success.” My channel has grown a lot lately and it’s fantastic. The logical next step is to keep growing. That means hiring people. It means investing in a large training space. It means doing more collaborations, which might also mean travelling.

Maybe I could try and do something with TV?

A lot of this would have sounded like a dream to 20-year-old Adam.

But is it now? Not so much. Why? Because it would all mean less time with my family. More stress. Less fun.

I have everything I want. I get paid to jump through the woods and I work significantly less than 40 hours a week. I have a two hour lunchbreak with my kids and I often don’t work Fridays.

Nevertheless, I’m earning enough to feel secure and to look after my kids.

I CAN keep this going on my own. And maintain this super-close relationship with my family.

So, my goals are different than they otherwise would have been.

And the same goes for fitness goals. As I said: I’m not trying to impress anyone. And I’ve rediscovered the value of being honest about the things I’m really pursuing. I kind of need abs to make my channel a success…

But otherwise: I’m more interested in learning cool moves. Improving my mobility and core strength. Making sure my back is strong so I can lift kids all day, every day.

My mate recently took up fitness again so that he wouldn’t get so tired being “Daddy horse.”

Should You Have Children Young?

I recently watched a video from the YouTuber Captain Sinbad. I love his content, not only for the high production values, but also for his honesty, humour, and like-minded appreciation of movies and pop-culture. I actually take a keen interest in his channel because we’re at very similar levels in terms of growth!

He doesn’t know this, but I’m secretly competing with him. Because I’m a maniac.

But he recently paraphrased a piece of advice from some book or other saying that you shouldn’t get married or have kids young if you want to maximize your potential. And this is a point I disagree with.

I mean, I get it. There are 50 articles right now that I want to write but haven’t because of the kids. There are app ideas. There are components to my training that I can’t fit in.

I just described how I can’t follow any self-improvement advice.

SO much of my money is spent on the kids. And, as I alluded to earlier, I can’t take the kinds of big risks I otherwise would have.

BUT.

Being a Parent Makes You Stronger and More Productive

On the flip side: I’m actually wealthier now than I was before I had kids. Significantly. And this is partly because of my children. I wanted to support my daughter (she came first), so I released an eBook. That eBook really took off and ultimately led to The Bioneer becoming my full-time job.

But I did this cautiously. At one point I was working three online jobs. I would not have made those decisions without the kids.

My children also act as my inspiration: inspiration to do the right thing but also the awesome thing. My daughter LOVES action films and jumping and climbing. She watches my videos and tries to copy the moves. It’s so motivating.

And guess what? On nights when my wife is out, I don’t become this super productive guy. Instead, I get a kind of “options paralysis” and end up eating a tuna paste sandwich for dinner and sitting on the sofa watching John Wick.

Having a family also forces me to relax and unwind properly. So that I have much more energy when I am being productive. I seem to be incapable of managing this balance on my own.

My children keep me active and healthy. I’m actually MORE energetic because I’m moving constantly throughout the day. And I find ways to turn that activity with my children into workouts: whether it’s just squatting while I play with them, or doing pull ups at the playground, or doing kettlebell swings with my daughter. Literally! We call it “playground” where I’m the playground. I also run around the house holding her (zipline) and do leg raises with her hanging on to them (see-saw).

Ever heard of Dad strength? It’s genuinely real. My daughter is 17kg and my son is like 9kg, I think. Often I am carrying one in each hand!

And then there’s the way that having kids forces you to grow up. I don’t want to be that guy who is condescending to people who don’t have children. But it is true: it changes you in fundamental ways as your priorities shift and you learn to be more tolerant and compassionate. It’s a chance to be a real leader.

THAT, as much as anything, is what has helped me to succeed more in my business than ever before.

Do Both

I see so many people who blame their lack of success or adventure on their partner. Growing up I knew tons of guys who broke up with their long-term partners because they wanted to go travelling, or because they wanted to start a business.

Guess what? 90% of them didn’t do those things. Because it was never the partner holding them back. The partner was a useful scapegoat.

Likewise, a lot of the guys I know who stayed single for that reason (I’m sure girls are guilty too, but most of the cases I can think of are guys) are still exactly where they were in their careers. The difference is that the mates they once hung out with are all now in families and too busy to go to the pub.

You can’t go home again. You can’t stay young. Time marches on.

My philosophy has always been this: whenever life presents you with two equally appealing options… find a way to do both.

This might involve compromise. But I honestly believe that if you work smart AND hard, you can find ways to be a dedicated family man/woman AND have the career of your dreams. If that’s what you want.

There’s never a perfect time to do something.

There’s never a perfect time to do something. The cards will never line up. There will never be a point where you are perfectly successful while also having lots of free time ready for a partner. And if you wait for that perfect moment, you might miss your chance at happiness.

That’s my take anyway. It’s been one million percent worth it.

And the nuts part of it is, some people avoid getting into a serious relationship so that they can build an empire and then attract the perfect partner. But if the perfect partner is already there, and already likes you, why wait? And why not build that empire together?

My wife and I are so much stronger for having been through so much together. And we’re just getting started.

Making it Work

So, just how DO you make progress with your physique AND your productivity as a parent and partner?

As many of you know, I highly recommend training throughout the day. What I call “incidental training.” An example I gave recently was doing 100 calf raises while brushing your teeth each morning. I spoke earlier about squatting while playing with the kids.

These opportunities present themselves constantly and they’re fantastic for keeping your energy up (so that you can achieve more) and for lacing strength training in throughout your day.

My other tip is to create more adaptable workouts.

See also: Try “Prime Focus” Splits – Better Than PPL?

I do have a more conventional training routine that I follow – it’s an adapted version of the Protean Performance System. I do this many mornings at the gym before I start work.

But, like I say, sometimes that doesn’t pan out. This morning my son randomly slept until 7am. I’m not complaining, obviously I could have just made him wake up, but it has a cascading effect that meant I didn’t leave the house until 9.40.

So, to account for such scenarios I have options.

Versions of the Same Workout

For example: I’ve written different variations of each workout so that I can perform them in one of four places:

  • The gym
  • My home
    • Living room OR garden
  • My office, which is full of training equipment now
  • An empty field somewhere/beauty spot

The gym and outdoor versions of the workouts are best. The office version I have to worry about things like sweating too much! But if I can’t get access to a pull up bar, I can make do with my paracletes in the office.

Sometimes, I can make it to the gym but only for a short time.

In that case, I perform just the “essential” moves in the workout. All my training routines include essential exercises and “ideal” peripheral exercises. If I only have 20 minutes to train, I can do just the essential exercises and leave.

Many of these peripheral exercises are things I can do from home, or even at my office. This is the other trick: I get the bulk of the workout done in 30 minutes at the gym, then finish off when I get a spare moment at home with some calf raises or handstand practice.

Multitasking Workouts

Learning to multitask is also useful. As I said, there’s SO MUCH I want to do and so little time. I don’t usually skip workouts because I don’t want to train – I love training. Rather, I tend to skip workouts because there is something else I want to do more.

See also: Doing Other Stuff While Working Out is Okay!

A solution is to do both. So, I’ll often workout in the living room while watching TV or listening to an audio book. Or I’ll play a game during my rest periods.

SO many people will tell you not to do this. Keep your head in the game! Maybe that’s ideal. But we’ve got to play the hand we’re dealt here. A distracted workout is infinitely preferable to NO workout.

Energy

Overcoming tiredness and lethargy is the other issue.

And this is something I can’t help with all that much. All I will say is that you can,to a certain extent, choose to be more energetic. In other words: don’t lean into the tiredness. Don’t tell people you’re tired. Don’t mope on the sofa. Don’t lie in.

Get up and get going. And stay moving throughout the day so as to keep the blood flowing and muscles awake.

Or, as Arnold Schwarzenegger puts it, sleep faster!

The dangers of reduced sleep may also have been somewhat overstated by the likes of Matthew Walker. Here’s a great read discussing this. I’m not encouraging anyone to actively avoid sleep. But we also shouldn’t blow the issue out of proportion.

After all, if losing sleep was that dangerous, every parent would be at serious risk. And parents, on average, actually live LONGER than non-parents, at least according to some research (reference).

I also recommend working on work capacity/endurance specifically as more of a focus of your training.

Productivity

Many of these concepts also apply to productivity. It means being adaptable in how and where you work. I just got myself a laptop that I can edit on (Asus Zenbook Duo 15… I LOVE it!).

Be efficient in your productivity and learn to cut out the stuff that isn’t really offering benefits. If you’re spending an hour on email, or to-do lists, or anything else… you aren’t really working.

That means doing the essential work first and having other projects on the backburner. My priority when I get to work is to film and edit a video. EVERY week. I don’t even answer emails until I’ve done that, because it’s the only way I can be sure I stay consistent.

Only IF I finish this in time do I then respond to pressing emails. Then I move immediately on to posting to Instagram and writing an article. If there’s time left at the end of the week, I work on something else – like an app, book, or other project.

I focus HARD during my writing, filming, and editing sessions. Such that I don’t check Facebook or anything else even once.

And, once again, multitask! When I’m washing the dishes, sitting on the toilet, or showering, I’ll often be planning my next video. That way, once I get to filming or writing, I’m ready to sit down and GO straight away.

Filming with me is a manic process that needs to be completed on location in often about 3 hours. I grab shots as they come up and work it together in post. Just ask Grant! I call it: The Bioneer method.

Remember What Matters

Most of all though: remember what really matters.

If you’re a driven person, it can be tempted to stay late at the office. Or to answer emails while they’re watching Paw Patrol.

But then they turn to you and say “that was funny, wasn’t it?” and even though it’s super dull and you’ve seen it ten times before, you need to be able to join in. Because you’re their best mate.

You’re their best mate.

I’m VERY reliable with my sponsors. But ultimately, if it comes down to handing a video in late, or being home 30 minutes late… I always choose the former.

Which is probably while I don’t live in a mansion. But that’s okay!

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

5 Comments

  1. Brett says:

    Thanks for writing this! As the father of two young kids, it is very relatable.

    Oliver Burkeman’s book Four Thousand Hours touches on some of these points from a rather unique perspective, I think you’d enjoy it!

  2. Steven says:

    Very refreshing perspective offered here. Appreciate it!

  3. Javier says:

    Hi Adam,
    i love your content and you are absolutely right.

    Is not only about sleeping well or working out. Parents are, like kids, constantly exposed to pathogens, many more as someone without kids.

    Is nice to work out and to be in good shape but as a father you should be also aware of the stress that our body have to deal with.

    Sometimes working out may not be what our body needs.

    Greetings from Germany.

  4. Gary Smith says:

    Hey Adam,

    A good read – would love to say it gets easier as you and kids get older, but it just changes !

    I am 52, and have a full time, demanding job – also recently qualified as a PT so trying to understand how I build that into a side business as well.

    My 22 year old son is just starting out in the working world so lots of advice and support there, and my 18 year old son starting his Uni journey soon, so helping him figure that out as well as the past two years of A levels !

    On top of that, trying ti be a great husband, and support my wife with stuff she is dealing with

    All of that adds up to affect training, sleep. productivity and how I spend my time – BUT, content like yours helps mw with that so thank you !

    Could go on, but will end it with a similar thought as yours – at the end of it all, my family is number 1 and everything else fits around that !

  5. Dimensional shade says:

    Hi mr.Sinicki
    Ive noticed most of the videos you have made do not have a blog counter part,it is quite a shame,some of us really love your blog and enjoy reading!So it would make me quite sad if you have fully quit making bioneer blogs,if you have,it is your choice,but i will sincerely say some of us love the blogs and it would really make us happy when you make them.

    Greetings and cheers from Slovakia,Vlad.

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