Archive for the ‘Infant / Toddler’ Category

Parent Playground #3

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

-Bouncing your kids up and down using your hands, arms, feet, knees and legs. Do this while standing, sitting, laying down, etc.  Don’t just do it for 30 seconds. This is exercise for you and fun for your kiddo. Make it last! Mother bounces her daughter on her thigh

-Do the above bouncing, and invent a story to go with it, like “Pizza Man”.  The videographer is 5 years old.

-Let your kids “clean” with their feet or upside down with their hands as you drag them around like in this video. I’m not sure if the parent or child is getting the best exercise here, but both are having fun!

“Skate” with towels under your feet. Give your kids towels and spray and let them help clean the floor/exercise with you. Sliding and/or cleaning exercise

-Put a laundry basket on a blanket, have your child climb in, and push and pull them around the house. I am surprised every time how high my heart rate goes the first minute.  It’s the same with pulling them on a blanket at the beach or on a sled in the snow. Super high intensity interval training!

 

Parent Playground #2

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

A lot of these games parents will do once or twice and call it quits. I say continue on, let your shoulders fatigue holding your child above your head, let your legs shake from exhaustion of letting your kids “fly”, allow your heart rate to soar playing together while getting exercise at the very same time. It’s crazy fun and super effective.

Some more parent playground games:

-“Wrestle” in whatever way that you (or they) create.  I hold my son between my legs and he has to get out. I’m not allowed to use my hands, so I just squeeze him with my legs.  I’m continually amazed at the variations of wrestling and all the rules and regulations that he comes up with.  Here is one adult variation.

-Rest your mini one on your shins while you lie on your back. If they are facing you, you take their hands. Count “1,2,3” and quickly fling them over your head in a flip onto their feet.  Watch this video so it makes better sense:

 

 

-Repeat above but have them face away from you. Or, if they are too young, just play “kissing crunches” and give them kisses each time you bring your knees close to your face. Pilates Prop

-Hand-slap plank games like I described here. So much fun!High Five Game

 

Parent Playground #1

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Currently, my kids are 5 and almost 7. They want to be picked up, carried, flung and thrown as much as ever.  When I sit them on top of my feet and “airplane” them like I did when they were just one-year old, they’d happily play until I couldn’t extend my legs anymore. I once played for 75 minutes —back and forth between them. I considered it my lower body workout for the day. When we finally stopped and I said I was going to make dinner, they begged me for more! I couldn’t believe it!

There is no end to the Parent Play Ground! Truly, no limits but your imagination and the stamina of everyone involved. Parent Play Ground

Here are some games to start the fun:

-Be the limbo stick. Let your child quickly crawl underneath you while you lower or rise up out of a push-up. It’s pretty hilarious to “squash” them.

-Play “parent push-over.” Sit on the floor, engage your abs and lean back a little bit. Have your kids try to push you backwards while you resist.  When they “win”, roll backwards and then roll up and start again.  Think of “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”.

Mom gives high five to infant while doing a plank-Try wheelbarrows together. 

-Be a bridge, in a plank on your back (hips lifted) and let the kids crawl under you and on top. Give them a ride as you raise and lower your hips, or do push-ups. Parent Play Ground

-Play “catch” and let them run toward you and leap into your arms. Feel free to swing them above your head or around in circles. I catch my kids mid torso rather than by their hands so I don’t hurt our wrists, elbows, shoulders and backs.

-Play “I’m gonna get you”  and then pick them up and kiss or tickle them. I can’t tell you how popular this is.

Stay tuned over the next few months for many games to play. I broke them into multiple posts so they’d be easier to digest, try and internalize. Be mindful of your back, wrists and neck while playing. It’s easy to get distracted playing with your kiddo and forget form. Oh, and don’t really squash your kid! Unless their tweens and up. Then it counts as wrestling (coming in parent playground #2).

Adult and Kid Playgrounds

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Vita-courseWhat’s a fun and free fitness activity you can all play together over Thanksgiving? The middle school near my house has a public exercise circuit, Parcourse or fitness trail — you know, the ones with the metal posts showing exercises like in this picture, and sometimes there are benches or bars where people can do exercises.

VitaCourses (a brand name of exercise circuits), Parcourses, and/or fitness trails are all around the country, so wherever you are on Thanksgiving, you can find one near you. Kids have formalized playgrounds. VitaCourses are kind of formalized playgrounds for adults that kids can do, too. Go try it, it’s fun!

I used to push my daughter to the school in the stroller for my warm-up, then get her out of the stroller, and she would do the VitaCourse stations witFitness Circuith me as a game. Now that she is older, she rides her bike to the track and challenges me to the circuit.

It’s easy to stand there and watch her play, so I remind myself that it’s more fun and healthier for both of us to move through the circuit. Her step-ups and push-ups are as hard for her as they are for me based on our weight and size. She thinks these are the most fun things in the world because we are doing it together. I’m not talking on my phone. I’m not checking email. I’m outside with her; we’re doing the exact same thing – making up crazy movements around the course, creating lasting memories for both of us. Oh, and we’re also getting a great work-out. Family fitness indeed!

Can’t find a circuit near you? Try some of these games over the holidays instead: active vacay, object race, hand slap plank game or scavenger hunt. Have a game or activity your family loves? Take a picture! Focus on Family Fitness has a contest coming up for the best active family photo.  Details are coming!

Board Meeting

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Tonight, with just a few hours notice from a peer (not me), several families showed up at a public city meeting to speak about how important our Family Fitness class is to them and their families. They were asking to be allowed to use a local park for classes.  Even two five-year-old children spoke in front of the board. One woman said she’d lost over 50 pounds taking my class twice a week and now her children were learning to love fitness from her role modeling.

I was moved to tears.Board Meeting

If ever there was a question that family fitness has an impact, I no longer wonder. Here is a photo of one of the five-year-olds speaking up.

I can list all the benefits of exercise. I can proselytize how important it is that families take time to have active play together. Or I can look at this picture and realize that kids get it. They understand family time; they understand how humans need movement. The positive and dramatic changes taking place each time a family focuses on fitness together is immeasurable.

Yoga Month

Friday, September 6th, 2013

I’m tired. I don’t know if I know anyone who isn’t. Maybe it’s the news; maybe it’s the endless dishes; or laundry that grows like a amorphous blob, but I’m tired. September is National Yoga Month. Seems like a good time for some restoration, relaxation, and Child’s Pose among the back-to-school chaos.Yoga for Tween Girls

Yoga Mommy is a BakerI like yoga. I’m not a crazy-over-the-top fanatic like some Yogi’s I know, but I respect it as an ancient practice that brings incredible mind-body awareness, inner and outer strength and peace, and a discipline that improves over time.

I don’t want one more thing to do. I do want high quality time with my family that doesn’t involve technology, that does involve health and fitness, and is interesting and challenging for us all.

Recently, I borrowed some yoga books from the library. I was already doing some basic poses with my children but, since they are four and six, the visual books was helpful. Plus the provocation was coming from the book rather than Mom.

yoga5 yoga4 Yoga Books for ChildrenGoing to the library can feel like one more thing though, and the point is simple. Easy. Soothing and refreshing. There are tons of websites that detail yoga poses, but to start, pick one or two. Make it your pose. Have your kids find their favorite. Kids usually  love downward dog. My children love tree pose, but pretend there is fruit on the tree. They like to do their own variations. There are books for young toddlers, and books for teens. I like The Girls Yoga Book by Michaela Caldwell by for Tween Girls.

Do it after school when you haven’t quite moved into an activity. Try it while the toast is browning for snack. Try it daily or whenever the mood strikes. Just, well, as the saying goes, just do it.

Imagine if the whole world was taught from a young age a go-to exercise we did for calming and comfort, for settling our mind and strengthening our bodies.  Imagine if that same exercise was our go-to quick exercise for our whole life. Perhaps the news wouldn’t be as depressing. Perhaps resolution would be found in other ways. Yoga GamesMany people have seen this video of the man who can’t walk without the help of crutches, who practices yoga, and then… watch it here if you haven’t seen it. Start practicing yoga. Like all exercise, it’s a great use of time.

Five Senses

Friday, August 30th, 2013

I can’t help it — the back of my mind is always thinking of new ways to inspire people and families to exercise. I also have a quiet love affair with TED talks, and watched one recently about how if the five senses are incorporated into product design, the product is much more effective. (This talk is meant for adults.) See it here.

Stream WalkIt started me thinking about how exercise can incorporate the five senses, and can easily be a top experience of our day or week. Think about a fall hike in the woods after a light rain. How does it effect our five senses?  A scenic hike is incredibly fulfilling visually. After a rain, the wet earth smells fantastic, the crunchy leaves beneath feet are full of sound, the feel of the your body exercising and sweating goes from our head to our feet, and the cold water and snack mid-hike taste refreshing. All five senses stimulated in a simple, free mountain hike. How about a bike ride/skate board to a local coffee shop?

Even an aerobics class can stimulate our fives senses to different degrees. Our hearing, vision and touch senses are all high. Smell, well, hopefully that’s the sense least stimulated, unless the drink you are hydrating with has a good smell. Taste? That water bottle hits the spot. When I taught spin class last week, I brought them all chocolate. All five senses activated and great fun.

While not every sport can rouse all five senses perfectly, the more senses involved, the more pleasurable the experience. And all this doesn’t even take into account the incredible bonding time with your friends and family, the conversations, the feeling of playing on a team, the endorphins from movement, and the thrill of a new sport or winning a game!

A Puzzle

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Someone in my family is an incredible puzzle master. He can solve almost any puzzle, and does it with joy. He doesn’t really like exercise though, and while he understands why he should exercise, he doesn’t gravitate toward it.

As I watched my children in gymnastics or kicking a soccer ball, it became very apparent to me that exercise is really a puzzle. Instead of manipulating a little wooden piece into a peg, or a metal ring through another, athletes turn their bodies in different ways to get them to “fit” into a cartwheel or kick a goal.Hockey Puzzle

As I teach different age clients about how to exercise, we measure heart rate, quantify times, chart successes, tweaking the “puzzle” so their bodies can go faster, stronger, quicker or more efficiently. What starts as a body-puzzle of a successful lunge, becomes a real-time, highly individual math equation, statistics and science game all at once.

Putting aside for a moment that exercise is the only way to grow more brain cells at any age, and that exercise makes our bodies healthier, happier and an infinite of other positives, why are sports, physical education and gross motor time being taken out of schools? How come we teach the map of the world but not the map of our own anatomical and physiological bodies? Why do parents hire math tutors for their children, but disregard the free teachable times of everyday movement?

What if parents triedhopscotch hiccup for teaching addition, subtraction, and multiplication, playing it with their children, everyone moving and learning together?  How would weekends look if parents had jump rope contests alongside their neighbors, so all were moving their bodies through a dynamic, fast-changing puzzle? Imagine the educational and fitness possibilities of running scrabble, creative scavenger hunts, or Letterboxing.

The teachable moments are all there for ourselves and our children; we just have to start. Maybe that’s the hardest part of the puzzle.

Strong Shoulders, Happy Babies

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Sing “the cute little babies go up and down…” , etc. to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”.  Babies LOVE it! And Mom gets stronger shoulders! Yay!

Happy Baby, Stong Shoulders

Be FITT

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

When you are exercising, no matter what activity you choose, think about varying it to keep your body from stagnating. How? The acronym “FITT” sums up what to do to continually grow stronger and healthier. The “F” stands for Frequency. How often are you exercising? You want to move as much as possible and all movement counts! Additionally, if you can, you want to work out so hard you are sweating and out of breath at least three times a week. I realize this sounds crazy, but I’m talking “ideal”.  If you do it as a family, you’ll have exercise and family time all together!

For example, the mom in this picture regularly went running with her son in a stroller, did strength training with me, and went on a reality tv show less than a year after child birth. Oh, and she works full-time as a biologist too. Mix “FITT” exercise with family time and anything can happen!Rows Plus

The “I” stands for Intensity. This couples with what I said above about sweating and being out of breath. How intensely are you exercising? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest, you want to be sure you work around level 6,7,8 and even 9 sometimes -depending on what your goal for the workout is.  Short bouts of REALLY intense exercise can be incredibly effective!  Think jumping rope or super squat jumps (doing a squat, then jumping in the air landing back in a squat). It can be just for a few minutes, but interspersed throughout your day and week, you’ll have some real cardiovascular and metabolic improvement. Sometimes short super intense bursts are great, sometimes a long sustained walk/jog is great. Know that they all have wonderful attributes and you can weave them into your fitness plans to keep your body changing. Click on cardiovascular activities on the blog for more ideas of what to do.

“T” stands for Type. What type of exercise have you chosen? Walking, swimming, biking and dancing are great!  But what if you don’t have time/resources for anything other than the chair or bathtub exercises?  Then just vary the type of things you do, such as lunges, squats, push-ups, step-ups, step-downs, sideways jumps, etc.

The last “T” stands for Time. How much time do you have to spend on your activity? Five minutes? Go hard! Five hours? Enjoy the movement! Vary the speed you do squats or jumps or whatever the move is. Fast squats are great for a cardio challenge. Slow squats are great for muscle work. Keep changing the timing (or tempo) of your exercise.

Vary any of the Frequency, Intensity, Type and Time and you’ll have the recipe to keep your workouts interesting, your body challenged, and your mind happy!