**Disclaimer - Prior to engaging in any physical exercise program, please consult with your health care professional, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a long period of time.
We are busy. Kids, job, activities—oh god, the activities—you name it, we are busy with it. This means that sometimes we need to find creative places to exercise, shoehorned between life’s obligations. One overlooked venue is the playground.
Stocked with all the equipment you’ll ever need, playgrounds get you outside in the elements, and they come without a hefty monthly membership fee. Score! Further, once you learn some basic moves you can literally design a workout on the spot, limited only by your imagination. Kids seem like playgrounds too. Strange.
There is only one rule. Try to leave the phone at home. But wait, my super cute toddler might do the super cutest thing they’ve ever done, and I won’t be able to snap a photo. Face it, if your phone is there, you’ll check the scores while they’re playing anyway. Resist temptation by removing it.
Playgrounds: Land of Endless Options
Watch your kids play for a moment. I mean, really pay attention to how they move. Things like push ups and squats, moves we try so hard to master, simply transition them to the next jump, climb, or scramble. So a big part of playground workouts is rediscovering what it’s like to move like a kid again.
How long do we spend at the park? 45 minutes? 60 minutes tops? Ample time to get your sweat on. Further, I’ve found the best workouts are the simplest ones, using no equipment whatsoever. To show you what I mean, give this a try. Push your child on the swing. Then do one air squat. Push them again on the backswing and do another squat. Depending how long they like to ride, this could result in a ton of legwork, so prepare to hobble home.
Pump Those Endorphins
While powerlifters might disagree, nothing beats body weight exercises. Borrowing (stealing) ideas from Cross-Fit, we will combine full body moves with a reasonable level of intensity. This will target your strength and endurance systems simultaneously, meaning we get a ton of work done in a short amount of time. Objective nailed.
I won’t be the last to say this, but go easy on yourself, especially if you’re coming off a long exercise hiatus. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. Should you have the full range of motion and the endurance to do every rep, awesome. If not modify the movement and repetitions to fit, well, you. Don’t worry, your strength and coordination will improve.
First, check on Junior. They good? Excellent, let’s loosen any tight spots and prepare the body for what’s ahead. To warm-up, do 3 rounds of 10 jumping jacks (remember these?), followed by a quick 20 meter burst, be it a run, jog, or fast walk. That’s it.
- 1 Full Round equals:
- Air Squats (10 - 25)
- Chin-Ups (5 - 10)
- Sit-Ups (10 - 25)
- Push-Ups (10 - 25)
The goal is to complete 3-5 rounds of the above exercises with minimal rest between rounds. Again, do your best! The rep counts might look scary, but honestly, start with single reps of each exercise if necessary. Build up from there.
Say you can’t do a full range, ass to the grass, air squat. So what! Go down halfway or a quarter. It doesn’t matter, just get squatting. For some reason, as we get older, our bodies forget how to do this basic movement. For a refresher on what one looks like, watch your kids pick something up. Without even trying, they nail perfect form—straight back, hamstrings resting on calves, toes pointed out—each and every time.
Can’t do a chin-up. Fine, hang from the bar for 20 or 30 seconds. Same with sit-ups. Anchor your feet under a ledge to push past the initial sticking point.
Unless you’re well trained and injury free, push-ups are tough to do out of the gate. They look straightforward, but require a coordinated, full body effort. Placing your hands on an elevated platform or starting with your knees on the ground helps in those early days.
That’s it. Workout done. Feel those endorphins pumping through your body. You got moving, and did something out of the ordinary.
So now when someone mentions how good you look, you can honestly say,
‘I just take my kids to the park.’