Olympian Bryan Clay: Get Active to Be a Good Dad


Carey Casey explains the importance and benefits of engaging in physical activity with your kids.

Bryan Clay was the gold-medal winner in the Olympic decathlon four years ago. He missed out on this year’s competition after an unfortunate slip in the U.S. qualifying meet, but he’s still one of the best all-around athletes on the planet. I know it took a lot of determination and self-discipline to get to where he is.

What’s even better, from everything I've seen, Bryan approaches fathering his three kids with that same dedication. He commented, “I try to always make sure that my wife and kids know that they are a top priority in my life. I try to be the best dad that I can be, ask forgiveness when I make mistakes, love them unconditionally, pray for them, discipline in love, and have fun!”

Bryan wrote a chapter for our recent book, The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge, focusing on how to “walk through life” with your kids. Being a world-class athlete who trains for hours every day, it makes sense that Bryan would make fitness part of his fathering. Most of Brian’s father figures during his youth were related to his sports pursuits, so physical activity is one thing he associates powerfully with bonding and sharing life.

He tries to do something physically active with his kids every day. Because they’re young, that often means taking a walk or going for a jog with them. But there are many similar activities we can do with our families: hiking, playing tag, swimming, bike riding, basketball, playing catch, or trying out a new sport.

Bryan says the important thing is to get everyone off the couch and moving. Engaging them physically helps him engage them in other ways. Once they’re involved, he stands a much better chance of having a great time and building memories.

What are some benefits to getting active with your kids? For one thing, you’re modeling a healthy lifestyle and building good habits. You’re also creating opportunities to talk and share life together in an atmosphere that’s easygoing and non-stressful. As Bryan writes, it’s a great way to “walk through life” together. A regular routine brings you together and helps you stay connected and current with what’s happening in your children’s lives.

So dad, if you don’t already, try this idea soon. Get involved in a regular physical activity with your child, whether it’s a sport or something else. Remember to make it enjoyable, not a chore.

Dad, do you agree that you need to “walk alongside” your kids more often? Maybe today can be your day to start taking that literally.

Action Points to help you be a good dad:

  • Think of your children as your personal trainers—or training partners. Get engaged in active pursuits with them. Take up a sport or start a new habit together that includes physical activity. (Let them have a big say in what you choose to do.)
  • Call a family meeting and discuss changes your entire family could make that would contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Hold each other accountable for the results.
  • Are your other health-related routines up-to-date—health screenings, doctor visits and such? Give your children (and grandchildren) the gift of a healthy dad … for many years to come.
  • One “slip-up” can jeopardize everything you've worked so hard for—in the Olympics and in life. Guard your integrity! And if there’s a part of your life that’s out of whack, do something now to change your course.


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