Make fitness a family tradition

The Antonio family poses for a picture after last Saturday's Bottle & Cork 10-miler/5K.  Shown are (l-r) Brenda Antonio, Stephanie Antonio, Chris Antonio, John Antonio and Paul Antonio. SOURCE SUBMITTED
September 15, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I traveled to my parents’ house at Fenwick Beach for a weekend of family togetherness. Upon arrival I met the usual suspects including my brother John, his wife Brenda, my brother Paul, my sister-in-law Sharon and my wife Stephanie. Just like every other normal family outing, there was awesome food, drink and fun available at a moment’s notice. In fact my 100 percent Italian stepdad, affectionately known as Pop Pop Joe used to run his own catering business and has made it his life’s mission to teach us what real Italian food is supposed to taste like, one course at a time.

After the first night of overindulgence, I made it a point to drag myself out of bed and hit the road for a morning run to burn off the extra calories from the night before, but what happened next inspired me to write this article. At first, the house seemed abnormally quiet, and I figured everyone was still sleeping, but as I hit the road I found that wasn’t the case at all.

As I rounded the first corner I saw my sister-in-law Sharon roller blading around the neighborhood getting in her morning exercise. As I approached the second mile mark I encountered my wife and younger brother Paul on the other side of the road on the return trip of our premeasured 4-mile course already on their way back to the house. As I continued on I began to make out the distinct figure of my sister-in-law Brenda heading toward me on the same side of the road, and as passed by, she reached out and slapped me high five and yelled out a few encouraging words. Later that day my brother John disappeared so he could get his workout in before it was time for dinner and to prepare for a 5K race the following week. It was at this moment that I realized how important fitness was to my entire family.

Just like everyone else, we enjoy getting together, eating good food, having a drink and relaxing. After all, who doesn’t but we have all found different ways to make sure we are keeping ourselves in shape by working out and staying active. In my opinion, fitness is contagious, and you have a much better chance of being successful if you surround yourself with people who have the same common interests. What better way to make that happen than to do it as a family?

When I was young, my friends’ parents seemed so old to me, because it wasn’t customary for the average person to go running or spend time in a gym lifting weights, but things have changed, and many families like mine have made fitness a part of their daily routines.

Recently we have taken it to a new level by joining local 5K races and running them together as a family. We start off the season with the Kelly J. Fritchman 5K in July to honor a family friend who passed away, and we end the summer with the Bottle & Cork 10-miler/5K. Both races have become family traditions. Events like these bring us together each year even though we live at opposite ends of the state. We enjoy rooting for each other and trying to beat previous times. We are all close enough in age that we remember going to high school together and playing sports, and I guess working out and competing makes us all feel like we are still in the game. I hope we will all be able to do it for a long time to come

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out