Becoming a parent is undoubtedly one of life's most transformative experiences, and for many fathers, it can be an overwhelming journey filled with both challenges and joys. Ryan Carters, the founder of DadFit, understands the ups and downs of fatherhood. Having experienced the demands of balancing a professional cricket career with fatherhood at a young age, he recognized the need for a support system tailored to dads. Ryan recently shared with us his inspiration for starting DadFit, the mission behind the program, and the impact it has had on fathers across Melbourne.
Ryan's journey as a young dad while pursuing a professional cricket career laid the foundation for DadFit. "I became a dad when I was still playing cricket. Although I loved it, juggling a sports career with a young child at home was challenging," Ryan shares. Being relatively young compared to other dads at that stage in life, he often felt like he was figuring things out on his own. This sense of isolation and the observation that many dads navigate fatherhood solo inspired Ryan to create a platform that fosters camaraderie and support among fathers.
Making Dadding a Team Sport Again
The core mission of DadFit is beautifully summarized by Ryan: "Let's make Dad'ing a team sport again." The program aims to help dads connect with each other in their communities, sports clubs, and workplaces. It encourages weekly meetups for workouts and Dad chats, where fathers can openly discuss the challenges and triumphs of fatherhood. By creating a space for open dialogue and shared experiences, DadFit seeks to help fathers forge lasting connections, enhance their parenting skills, and support each other in the journey of fatherhood. DadFit is all about reminding dads out there that they don't have to navigate fatherhood alone.
A Glimpse into a DadFit Session
A typical DadFit session comprises two hours of physical and emotional growth. The first hour involves a group workout led by Ryan himself. While the workout includes high-intensity interval training and stretches, it also incorporates fun elements, such as ball games. This combination of fitness and play allows dads to bond over shared experiences while getting their workout in.
The second hour, known as "Dad chat," offers a safe space for fathers to delve into various aspects of fatherhood. Each week, a different topic is explored, ranging from family connection and supporting a partner to managing work-life responsibilities and focusing on personal fitness and mental health as a dad. Through open discussions, dads learn from each other's experiences and develop new perspectives on their roles as fathers.
Ryan notes that these Dad chats often lead to "dad challenges," where a dad shares an idea or solution, encouraging others to try it out and share their experiences the following week. This approach fosters a dynamic and supportive community among fathers.
Over the course of DadFit's existence, Ryan has witnessed numerous heartwarming stories of transformation among participating dads. One dad who had recently moved to Melbourne expressed how challenging it was to establish a new social circle, especially with young kids. Being part of DadFit provided him with an incredible group of dad friends with whom he could connect and have fun on a weekly basis.
Another touching account came from a dad who had been part of the program for five weeks. He shared that his kids were equally enthusiastic about DadFit, with his six-year-old even expressing a desire to be a part of DadFit when he grows up. These moments really highlight the positive impact DadFit has not only on fathers but on their families as well.
The Pony Award
DadFit incorporates a heartwarming tradition called the "Pony Award for A-grade dadding." Ryan presents a pink, sparkly My Little Pony award to the dad who demonstrated exceptional dadding skills that week, which is then shared with the entire group. This light-hearted yet meaningful gesture reinforces the idea that being an engaged and supportive father deserves recognition and celebration.
When asked about his favourite DadFit session, Ryan recalls a particularly moving exercise. In this session, dads were asked to imagine themselves 20 years in the future, looking back on their children's growth and their own journey as fathers. The exercise prompted them to reflect on the value of the present moments with their children, despite the chaotic and demanding nature of parenthood.
DadFit's impact on the lives of dads and their families is a testament to the importance of creating spaces where fathers can share their experiences, learn from each other, and celebrate the joys of being a dad. As DadFit looks to expand and partner with communities and organisations, it is destined to continue making a positive difference in the lives of countless dads across Australia and beyond.
Joining the DadFit Community
For dads interested in joining the DadFit movement, the process is simple. They can connect with DadFit through Instagram or visit the website, https://dadfit.au/ for more information. Currently, the program is available in Melbourne, with in-person sessions open for enrolment. Additionally, sporting organizations and workplaces looking to incorporate DadFit can reach out to Ryan via the website.
DadFit has already made a significant impact on the lives of many fathers. Ryan envisions an exciting future for the program, with plans to expand interstate in the coming years. By partnering with workplaces and sporting organisations as well as holding community group sessions, DadFit aims to reach as many dads as possible.