Archive for the ‘Tween’ Category

Physical Chess

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

“Fencing is like playing chess with your body at 100 miles per hour. In competition, the only thing that moves faster than a fencing sword is a speeding bullet,”  explains Carla Corbit, the head coach for Caltech’s Fencing Club.

How cool is that? Physical chess!  Size up an opponent, develop a plan of “attack” with speed and high technique, and an intense game is played with such focus, it’s almost a meditation.Fencing

There are three traditional weapons in fencing (foil, épée and saber) as well as the gear to protect you. There are many places that teach fencing, and classes range in age from children to adults.

Recently, my kids went to a Star Wars birthday party and were taught to joust with a balloon light saber. Is this how it starts? Is Star Wars a modern version of fencing?

Pantomime or for real, fencing will get your heart rate up, your reflexes revived, your mind sharpened and your body strong. Give it a try and see if physical chess is for you.  At the very least, when you practice with your kid(s), you’ll crack up with laughter (which is my favorite way to work my “core”).

Swing into a Strong Core

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Strength in Numbers

How long can you hold a plank on a swing? What if the swing moves side to side? Front to back? Be sure your back and wrists stay in neutral.   Here are some ideas for more fun at the playground, and moves that are super effective. Compete with your kids, your friends, or yourself. One parent I know keeps track in his phone of how long he can hold a plank. Then he beats his number next time.

Try it the other way, with your feet on the swing.  Put both feet on the swing while your hands or forearms are planted on the ground.  Do moving tuck or pike crunches.  Or swing your legs side to side. Keep your feet up and do unstable push-ups.

Turn and hold a side plank with both feet on the swing, hand or forearm on the ground (relax your neck/throat).  How long can you hold this in proper position? Can you raise and lower your hips? It’s challenging which makes it super fun!

How will you get a great start on the New Year?

Hoola Monsters Contest

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

By Guest Family Fitness Mom Erica M.

Focus on Family Fitness is having a contest! We’ve learned about a fun hoola hoop & DVD program for kids – just in time for the holiday season.  Jr. Hooper Molly goes on a fun adventure to Hoolaville – a vibrant, funky village filled with super hooping creatures. Kids will play, laugh and hoop dance to original music.Hoola Monster Peaking

Check out a clip of the video here. http://hoolamonsterkids.com/

Since we celebrate family fitness – especially with all the temptations around the holidays – we are having a giveaway sponsored by the Hoola Monsters. Share a photo of your crew in action and you could win the hoop & DVD kit for a healthy new year!

Use the holiday vacation to take pictures and try new healthy activities together.  Best photo wins! Send pictures to Kim@FocusOnFamilyFitness.comHoola Monster

Contest ends January 1st. Photos may be used on website.

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.

Climb

Monday, October 14th, 2013

One of my favorite sports is rock climbing. I love rock climbing so much that I named my cat after the carabiner used to connect me to the rope. When I climb up the rock, focused on where to put my foot next, the day’s stresses disappear. I get to the top (or not) and feel like I can solve any problem beforeRock Climb me. Perhaps doing an actual gigantic physical puzzle makes everyday nuances easier.

I’ve discovered that all kids, of any age (1 to 108), gravitate toward climbing rocks. It doesn’t have to be an actual rock face that requires belays and harnesses; any pile of large rocks will do (even a big pile of hay, huge sand dunes  or super long stair cases do the trick). Walk a kid over to a pile of boulders and see what happens. Don’t stand there as a parent observing.  Have total engagement and climb too. Climb, scamper, scale, and clamber up the rocks. Get to the top and look around. Is your heart beating faster? Did you just have fun and forget everything else?

Try an official rock climbing class at a rock climbing studio or store like REI that offers weekend workshops. Don’t just climb indoors; get outside and try it, too. It’s different. Don’t use the excuse “I have no upper body strength” or climbing “is just for kids.” If you’re scared, that’s fine. Do it anyway! Be proud that not only did you try it, but also you role modeled being scared and going for it despite your fear.  As you ascend, you might just notice your mind soaring to new heights, too.

Zoingo Boingo

Friday, September 27th, 2013

One of the things I love about where I live are my neighbors. Every year we have a block party and close off the street so the kids can run around, have a bike obstacle course, jump rope, hopscotch, and play basketball. Zoingo BoingoThe kids favorite activity is the massive water balloon fight that the parents spend 2 hours preparing and cleaning up, even though the actual balloon fight and chase is about 30 minutes. It’s the highlight of the day for the kids, and joke for the parents that the prep takes so much longer that the actual game.

All the neighbors come out, bring food and random toys in their garages. This year, someone brought out a toy that I liked just because of it’s name, “Zoingo Boingo”.  Say that ten times fast.

It’s a simple toy, kind of like an easier pogo stick. And it’s fun. Any age and ability can do it. Just bounce, bounce, bounce, all the way down the sidewalk. Think of it as a mini trampoline you can jump around town on. No prep, no clean-up, just healthy, springy fun, family fitness. Yes, please!

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.