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Jumping Over Fire for My Kids… and Because It’s Fun!

Its a Bird. Its a Plane. Its a Bunch of Balloons!

“Penny, look at all those balloons stuck in the tree,” my wife, Allie, said to our 4 year old daughter. The balloons looked like they had gotten away from a New Years Eve party the night before. Penny had never seen so many in one place. “Ooh, lets get them!” she shrieked. Allie laughed, explaining that they were stuck up high in a 50 foot tree. “Daddy can get them,” Penny said in her adorable “duh, of course” voice. And THAT is why I am so happy I started working out, running Spartan Races & Tough Mudders, & why I’m considering training for a marathon. I want our daughter and, when he’s able, our 9 month old son Simon, to think I am Superman for as long as possible.

This illusion of my invincibility is bound to fade, of course, and eventually completely disappear. But I want it to last as long as possible. I love it! Could I have shimmied up that tree & gotten those balloons for my baby girl? Hell no! But she doesn’t need to know that. She’s seen me at obstacle races muddied up, climbing up ropes & under barbed wire, & she’s seen pictures of me jumping over fire & performing various other feats of strength and stupidity. Right now, she believes I can do just about anything. She flies at me from the couch while I’m sitting on the floor. There isn’t a question in her mind that I’m going to catch her. Of course I am! She’s used to me tossing her in the air, flipping her upside down, &, well, performing various other feats of strength & stupidity.

That's me jumping over fire!
That’s me jumping over fire!

As a stay at home dad, roughhousing is one of the ways I communicate with her. Yes, I read her stories and play figurines (of the princess and pony variety) & dress-up with her. Mommy does that, too. But mommy doesn’t throw her in the air so high she feels like a fast flying fairy – you know, like Vidia. Note: Vidia is Tinkerbell’s frenemy, whose role in the fairy world is to create strong winds and other seemingly natural occurrences that actually require flying at high speeds. It amazes me to think there was a time I didn’t know that.

My favorite fairy.
My favorite fairy.

A Baby Is Born. I Join a Gym.

When Penny was born (& I was blissfully unaware of the occupations of various fairies), I was out of shape. Probably had been for a while. I’d always been so skinny, I didn’t give much thought to my diet and I was kind of scared & intimidated by the gym. If I did hit the gym, I’d head straight for an elliptical or, if I was feeling bold, a weight machine. But never free weights! Those were for muscleheads who have to walk sideways through doors lest their huge shoulders get stuck. At some point, my brother Jon, who’d been doing the P90X workout & was looking pretty ripped (like one of those muscle heads!) told me I was looking chubby & should lose 20lbs. 20lbs! He must have drank the protein enriched Kool Aid. I thought 5, maybe 10 lbs & I’d be lookin’ good. 20lbs? Was he nuts!?! Turns out, no. I was probably about 185/190 at the time. Now I weigh right around 165lbs. I still walk straight through doors, but, for the first time in my life, I have some muscles!

Superdad prepping for a Spartan. (Notice the super mess in the background.)
Superdad prepping for a Spartan. (Notice the super mess in the background.)
My workouts started humbly. Like I said, I was pretty intimidated by the gym. But I broke down & joined Ballys. And got a personal trainer to help ease me into things. She showed me some machines, but I still stayed away from the big, scary free weights. Ballys closed (because of a fire or something), so I joined the other gym that was nearby. Golds. Yes, that Golds. The ultimate meathead gym. Crap. I got another personal trainer, because I wanted to take on those damned free weights. Once I got a few moves down it was all a lot less scary. He also showed me some crossfit exercises, like burpees and box jumps. And he told me about this crazy race called the Tough Mudder, a 13 mile military style obstacle course. He asked me to join his “team.” I told him I didn’t think I was physically (or psychologically) up for it, and his team would be better without me. Maybe next year.

I Am Sparta!

Fast forward a year, and I’ve done two Spartan Races, a Rebel Race, the Merrell Down & Dirty & a Tough Mudder. Well, half a Tough Mudder; I had an early exit due to injury. I was coming out of a water obstacle and slipped in the mud, landing right on a rusty nail point side up. It went half an inch into my hand. I had to go to a hospital to have it removed, get a tetanus shot and start a course of antibiotics. To be honest, it hurt more going out than going in, and I was mostly just bummed I didn’t get to finish the race. Okay, so I’m addicted. I’m already signed up for another Mudder in May and a Spartan in September.
I was not the only Mudder admitted that day, but I think the nurses liked me best.
I was not the only Mudder admitted that day, but I think the nurses liked me best.
Going to the gym has become something I truly enjoy. And I’m comfortable with exercises I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing a couple years ago: Romanian deadlifts… squatting over 250lbs… skull crushers! Once I’m at the gym, it’s great. But talking myself into going can sometimes be difficult. Especially when there are no races to train for. After all, I’ve got dishes to wash, a house to clean, kids to educate and entertain, and (let’s be honest) naps to take. It’s all about prioritizing, but when I’m feeling lazy I think about how I want my kids to see me. I try to go every other day, but only after the house doesn’t look like a total disaster zone. Both goals are aspirational; the house is usually a mess and I rarely actually get to the gym that often. To come close, I have to skip a lot of naps, drink a lot of coffee, and just squeeze in workouts whenever I can. But it’s all worth it when Penny brags to her friends about her Spartan dad. It doesn’t even matter that they have absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. She thinks I’m Superman.
We're Super! Thanks.
We’re Super!
Published inHealthy Livin & Muddy FunParenting & Humor


  1. Thanks for sharing! I once told my daughter to be careful while she was climbing on something. She asked why? I told her she could fall and get hurt and she replied, “No I won’t Daddy, you’ll catch me.” Simultaneously moved with a lump in my throat and worried that I have done too good of a job protecting her and that an occasional scraped elbow or knee is important to growing up.

  2. admin admin

    I like when my daughter’s careful, but I love when she’s fearless! I’m sure it’ll be scarier for me (and I’ll probably be singing a different tune) when she & my son do something that involves the risk of “real” injury. The minor cuts & scrapes she gets now are badges of honor, signs that she was testing her limits (a little) and haviing fun.

  3. Gary Gary

    I think its some awesome that share this great story. Its like I was reading my own life!!! I’ve done a triathlon and a Tough Mudder in September and October, now I’m going on my second TM and second triathlon in April. My son came up to me in December and asked if he could do a triathlon and I said yes , so now he’s signed up for one in a few weeks. My 4 year old daughter has a TM shirt and can recognize the log form a mile a way and will literally call people out if they have a Tough Mudder shirt on. But like you I truly enjoy going to the gym. It allows me to relax and get my mind in order. Keep up the good work Superman!!!!!

    • admin admin

      Very cool that you’ve inspired your son. How old is he? I’ve thought about a triathlon, but I’m a really weak swimmer and I have a really shitty bike. So I think I’ll hold off on that one. I’m considering running a half marathon sometime in the near future and, if that goes well, perhaps taking on a full marathon.

      I love that your little one knows TM. My daughter, also four, brags about her Spartan dad. We set up little obstacles in the house (aka the crap we need to pick up) and she runs her own mini-Spartans. I’m hoping she’s going to want to do a real one soon (they have junior races for kids). She’d dig the obstacles, not so sure about the mud.

  4. David, You continue to amaze me. You and Allie are setting such a positive example of co-parenting for your children, I am sure they will be the most balanced kids in their graduating classes. Keep doing the good things, and you’ll keep reaping the great karma rewards. It was great to see you in person. I should have gotten your autograph while you were here!

    • admin admin

      Thanks Aunt Diana! It was great seeing you, too.

  5. I"ve done the Warrior Dash 3 years in a row now and each year my two boys thought I was basically SuperWoman because I came home COVERED in mud AND that I sat and covered the mini-van in just as much mud! Can't wait till they can join me!

    • admin admin

      That’s awesome! Last year, Spartan Race gave out a bag with a totally ripped dude performing some or other feat of strength. Penny asked if it was me on the bag. I love that girl so damn much!

  6. […] a Rockstar of the Stay-at-home dad world. How else would you describe someone that two days ago was jumping over fire for his kids, yesterday he was battling moms on The Bethenny Show, today he’s published in TIME online and […]

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