Archive for the ‘Balance’ Category

Standing Arm Wrestle

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Stand facing your teen, partner or friend, and place your right hands together palm to palm. (See photo)Arm Wrestle Palm to Palm Stand with right ankles touching and in a lunge position. Now push palms together in opposite directions, with the strength coming from your hips, particularly the obliques. Push hard at the same time, until one of you falls over from losing strength or laughing. Now try it again on the left side. If he/she is much bigger than you, have them stand up taller or on one foot while you lunge lower.

Start again, in the same position as above, but rather than push palm to palm, hold his or her hand as in the photo.Arm Wrestle pulls You can try doing a low lunge arm wrestle and “pull” him or her toward you. Don’t “jerk” your partner over, stand low and steady in a lunge, and both of you pull at the same time in opposite directions. Use your whole body as a muscle and counter weight, not just your arm. Keep your elbows bent the whole time.  Feel constant resistance as if playing tug of war, until one person can’t hold it anymore or again, you lose strength from laughing.Arm Wrestle

Stand facing each other in a low deep squat. One person has palms up; the other, has palms down on top, as shown in the picture.Partner Body Strengthener At the same time, one person curls up, the other pushes down. Continue steady even resistance as you both resist the other’s strength. If you are curling up, use your whole body, especially your legs to lift your arms. If you are pushing down (hands on top), aim to mostly use your core.

If your child is much smaller than you, have them partner with a sibling or friend their size while you wrestle both, or you wrestle your husband/wife.

These moves take five minutes or so depending on how into it you get and how many times you repeat them. They are effective full body strengtheners all while being very entertaining.  Experiment with other hand and body positions for a fun partner workout. What are your favorites?

Gymnastics Circus

Friday, April 26th, 2013

I was talking to an incredibly smart woman last week, who also happens to have been a client of mine for four years. She said she wanted her daughter to stay in gymnastics and was willing to pay extra for a good place so her daughter Handstand Chattingcould learn to cartwheel. The mom felt like it was one of her regrets, never learning how to cartwheel herself.

It made me wonder, why do we think gymnastics is for kids? Or even more, why do so many people think games are just for kids? OK, the Olympics are for adults, but hopscotch, jumping rope, just bouncing a ball, etc. is “supposed to be” for children. How did we get such a cognitive dissonance between the two?

With Screen-Free Week coming up, take each night that you’d watch TV, and turn it into an active night. Set up a gymnastics or circus circuit in your home instead. On Monday, put masking tape down in your living room and walk, jump, twirl, and cartwheel along the “balance beam”. If you live on a quiet street, go outside and use the curb.  Start small by just balancing on one leg along the line.

Pummel HorseOn Tuesday night, use the side of the couch, laundry basket or the bathtub as a pommel horse. Yes, you’ll need to allow yourself and the kids to flop and jump on the couch some, but it will be incredibly fun, memorable and good exercise. Think of what you see gymnasts do and try a smaller version. Put your hands on the edge of the couch and see how long you can hold yourself up. Do push-ups on it, or let your child swing both feet over the top while holding on with both hands.

Trampoline and or “floor” work can be Wednesday night. Bounce on the bed, or push back the couch and play. Walk your feet up the wall to try a head or handstand. Attempt a cartwheel even if it looks bad. It will get better. Do somersaults and crab walks. Attempt a backbend if you are really feeling brave.

The even (or uneven bars if you are female) is trickier to create at home. On Thursday, see if you can go to the playground and experiment at the park. It’s fun! Don’t let the excuse “I have no upper body strength” stoCircusp you. You have more upper body strength than you think. Really.  Alternatively, find a super sturdy dining room/office chair with arms. Sit on the chair, put your hands on the handles and lift yourself up, so nothing is touching the floor. It’s hard; it’s not you. Compete with your kiddo and see who can go the longest. Invent new ways to use your even bars. My kids are great at this, although I can barely do most of the things they create. Nevertheless I try, we laugh, I’m humbled and the game continues.

On Friday, have a gymnastics or circus show. Put down hula hoops as circus rings, put on costumes, and take turns performing the skills you practiced this week. Realize you didn’t miss the screen time (too much), and discover new muscles. Plus, you won’t regret not learning that cartwheel. You’ll know you are working on it…

Bucket Blast

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Lolo Bucket Blast is a group of 15 indoor and outdoor active games. The 6 buckets, belts, blindfolds, cones and 24 bean bags come with instructions for the myriad of games that range from Beanbag Basketball and True Partnership to Totally Wet and Shot in the Dark.  The games are for adults and children over 6.Lolo Bucket Blast

Try one of the 15 included games or make up your own. Play with 4 people or 20. Don’t wait until you are in the mood, just play! Or, simply stick a bean bag on your head and walk around the house competing to see who can go the longest without it falling off. Really, games begin in the simplest ways.  I like to pretend the bean bags are pellets in Pacman. The couch is the safe zone, we set a timer and go.  Who can gobble up the most bean bags (or any toy, book or block) before the timer goes off and/or is “eaten”? Try playing it the whole time in a plank, squat or lunge position for a strength rather than cardio variation.

You can make up any kind of game that includes your family’s interests, or play the 15 games they suggest. Use the bean bags for snow ball fights or throw something to improve your eye-hand coordination; get some cardiovascular exercise or balance challenges; (depending on the game you play), and have a super memorable family time all at once.  Not bad for some buckets and beanbags!

Partner Play

Friday, April 12th, 2013

I really like this video. Whenever I train couples, groups of friends or parents with their children, we do a bunch of partner moves.  I always thought I created them myself, but apparently I’m not the only “crazy” trainer! Partner Massage

Amusing family fitness couldn’t be easier! I don’t suggest all of these moves, particularly the Kettlebell Turkish Getup with a partner as the Kettlebell.  However a lot of these moves are really fun, effective and adaptable to people of different sizes and strengths, and can be done anywhere at anytime.  Like the wheelbarrow , hand slap and leg wrestle games I’ve mentioned before, many of the moves are related to that. The difference is, in the video, they go through the moves really quickly, whereas I have people hold the moves longer and make a game of it!  Try both and see what you like best. Then do it again!

Son MassageSkip the first 15 seconds of the video, something is wrong with it.

Check out the video and try some fun moves!

The two pictures that go with this blog are incredibly endearing to me. I teach this phenomenal group of 13 families on Tuesday afternoon. We’ve played with tennis balls before as massage tools and also just fun toys to add to our workouts. At the end of class on Tuesday, I noticed one woman helping another with her back pain, using two tennis balls along her spine. Five minutes later, I realized her son, was doing the very same thing, helping his mom as her friend had. If that isn’t exercise imprinting and role modeling being thoughtful, I don’t know what is.  SO sweet!

Active Play Date/Vacation

Friday, March 29th, 2013

With school spring break around the corner, plan active play dates, parties and/or vacations. It’s more fun, memorable, and (oh yeah), you’ll squeeze in exercise at the same time!

-Take a walking tour of cities and towns. Try a gourmet walk from chocolatier to bakery, a walking comedy tour (I’ve done it; it’s fun!) or make your own tour. Let your kids pick a destination and walk to it.

-Plan an active play date with another family.  Try some of the games on this website such as running Scrabble, a scavenger hunt, Letterboxing, Tri Day or go on a simple hike. One of our favorite things to do as a family is go hiking with friends. One Dad I know concocts intricate stories involving their kids’ stuffed animals as the children walk along riveted to his tale.AngryBirds

-My neighbor and his son are already on vacation. This morning, they were starting to play their home-made Angry Birds Game in 3-D. They are working on a slingshot to go with it.  Think they’ll have a blast and get some exercise chasing after the balls and boxes? His son will get the side benefit of a great day with Dad all while having a blast learning physics.  So fantastic!

-Regardless of whether you go away or stay home for a vacation, make it active (and therefore, much more fun and memorable)!  Rent bikes in a new town and just explore with no agenda. Or ask the bike shop for local bike trails.  Find a new pool, lake or beach to swim; snowshoe from hut to hut; roller-skate to the ice cream parlor or have a dance party.  By three, my son was able to ice skate by himself. So I just skated alongside.  If you can, “practice” your activity beforehand so you can ride/ski/hike/etc. comfortably for days in a row.

-Try the jumpy places that have walls and floors made of trampolines. They are all over the U.S.  Or go to your local park for free and jump on all the wobbly bridges and bars. I know I’m not the only adult who does it because I’ve seen others play along too. Make the park active time for all of you, rather than sitting and watching your kid play.  You’ll get a workout, and your kids will feel like you really played with them and didn’t just “watch”.  Bring balls, discs, jump ropes, kites, skateboards, and other friends to join in running around. Think of childhood games you liked to play and do them. Remember Kick the Can?  Four Square? Wheelbarrows? Hopscotch?

Sounds like a memorable play date/vacation, doesn’t it?

Planes of Motion

Friday, March 15th, 2013

So our bodies move in multiple planes: think front and back and side to side. Create a game – either oral, with cards or dice that challenges the other person to move in all directions.

A simple version for toddlers to kids (and their parents to join in!) is a dice game such as the one featured here.  This is an excellent game you can make as easy, creative or challenging as you want.

For older kids and adults, you can have fun learning anatomical terms to describe planes of movement by making a card game.  If you exercise and have never thought about how your body moves, it’s pretty interesting!   Put the cards in the middle of the table and turn over two cards.  The person who moves correctly at their turn according to his/her card, keeps the cards. Alternatively, race, and whoever can do the move the fastest keeps the cards.  The person with the most cards at the end wins the game!

What goes on the cards? A body part and one of the four planes of motion. The sagittal plane divides the body into right and left, so every time you take a step forward or do a bicep curl, you are moving in the sagittal plane.  You can even add a more difficult layer to the game by talking about flexion (curling your arm up for the bicep curl) or extension (the lowering phase of the curl). Can you challenge each other to come up with new movements for each one?

The frontal plane divides the body into front and back, and within this plane you can move your arms and legs away from you to the side (abduction) like a jumping jack, and back towards your center (adduction) completing the jumping jack, bringing your legs together. If you have a high schooler, add in elevation and depression, like your shoulder blades moving up and down. There are deeper and deeper levels to go here, of course. You can add in more anatomical terms or more anatomy. Why stop at the scapula (shoulder blades)? The goal is to develop awareness, moving through every plane, challenging each other’s creativity and having an interesting, dynamic, active discussion with your kiddo that carries over into day to day.  One of you will be getting cereal one day and suddenly say “Hey, what planes am I moving in?”

There is also the transverse plane that divides the body into top and bottom. Motion in the transverse plane is rotational around the axis of your spine.  Think of swinging a baseball bat.

The last plane of motion is circumduction, which is the combination of all three planes above, such as drawing circles with your arms or legs. If you get really into this, there are a lot of other terms to explore such as how the foot moves (dorsiflexion and plantar flexion), the ways the wrists move (pronation and supination), etc.

The goal is not to get overwhelmed, but to explore the movement of your body with mindfulness, appreciation, and a sense of fun. If you are still reading this, bravo! You are on your way to super body awareness!


Friday, March 1st, 2013

The simplest things can add fitness to your days. Think of fitness as four legs of a chair:
All four make your chair (body) very strong and stable. Balance exercises are great for your awareness of where your body is in space and controlling it, decreasing your chances of falling, and turning on the smaller, underutilized muscles of your body (like in your feet, legs, knees, hips and core). Balance challenges are easy, simple games you can add into your day that really add up without taking much time.

Play flamingo with a child and compete to see who can balance on one foot for the longest. Now switch feet. Try balancing on one foot with your arms above your head, your head rocking side to side and/or your eyes closed. Closing your eyes makes balance challenges super fun and hard! Balance on one foot with your opposite leg high in the air, in the front, side or back. Try it while “swimming” in the air or moving your arms in every direction around you. Experiment with your shoes off for greater feedback and results.

While doing dishes, folding laundry, talking on the phone, watching kids do homework, reading emails, etc., just stand on one foot and balance. Sneak in one foot standing while watching your child play sports. Pushing your baby on a swing? Balance on one foot through the whole push and try not to touch down. Fun, isn’t it?

Want it even harder than with your eyes closed? Turn to your kiddo and, while balancing on one foot with your eyes open, toss a ball back and forth facing each other and sideways next to each other. Which foot can you balance on for the longest? Balance on a big fluffy pillow, while throwing a disc or flying a kite.  Try kneeling on the pillow and balancing on one knee instead of your foot.  Go to the playground and find uneven sand, moving bridges, etc. and experiment. Kneel on the swing and balance, play hopscotch all while hopping on one foot.  Who is the one-footed wonder and flamingo champ of your household?

Sit on a Ball

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Sit on a ball. Big or little. Seems funny, but it’s a great way to strengthen your core.

With a little ball, sit on the ground, with the ball almost under your tail bone as in the picture on the right. Sit up tall and lean back over the little ball. Let your abs turn on, and keep your lower back turned off. Tilt back over the ball as if you are doing a sit up, except on top of the ball so you have much more range of motion and challenge. Experiment with your arms over your head, moving through the sit up or holding still.  If your core is shaking, you are doing it correctly.

With a big ball, roll slightly forward from a seated position with the ball supporting your lower back, while your feet are flat on the floor.  Put your hands behind your head, and just find your center of balance. Enjoy the unstable horizontal position — it’s fun! Plus it activates your core. Be sure you have no tension in your back. Experiment with all the interesting ways you can sit on the ball.

Once you find your balance, keep your feet on the floor, and try crunching your chest up and down as if doing a traditional “crunch”.  Now turn on your side and do it again. Try the other side. You’ll suddenly remember where your obliques are and how they lift you sideways! Put your belly on the ball and lift your chest up and down to strengthen your lower back, glutes and hamstrings as in the picture on the left.

Now stand up and play. Big ball, small ball – think of the zillion things you can do! Pass it around your hips, under your legs, over your head, back and forth with your child; squeeze it between your knees and jump; create ball dance routines like in the Olympics; bounce it around the house; and then see who can throw it the highest, fastest, farthest, curved, in the air, to a target, or into a basket. The list is truly endless. Get on the ball and play!

President’s Challenge

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Some people start the New Year with a resolution. How about a family resolution to move more? How about one that has you exercise five days a week for six weeks, and then your family (especially your kid(s)!) will earn an award from First Lady Michelle Obama?  Think about it – start now and by Valentine’s Day you’ll all have healthier hearts! Plus, you’ll have six weeks under your belt of improved habits, which will make it much easier to keep up the momentum.

It’s easy! Sign up here and print the activity log or do it online. You can also start a group, so family and friends anywhere can do it with you. You can all watch your progress together, or compare yourself to others who are taking the President’s Challenge.

While you’re registering, explore the Let’s Move website for some great ways to raise healthy kids. You can apply these ideas to everyone in your house, not just your children. Kids move, you move, everyone eats healthier together, and you create a happier, healthier household. Now that’s a happy New Year!

Active Scavenger Hunt

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Partner two different teams together and create an active scavenger hunt. Instead of “find something”, “do something” and take an action photo or mini video to show you’ve completed the clue.

-Balance while walking across something (masking tape, sidewalk curb, tree limb, a line of pillows…use your imagination)

-Crawl under something on your back then front: a bed, sheet tunnel, couch fort, shrubs, low clothes line, etc.

-Jump on top of something (bed, ottoman, rock, pillow, etc.) in all different directions (up and down, sideways both directions) for a predetermined number of times.

-Lift something heavy 20 times over your head or just up and down, depending on what it is. For example lift each other up, a barbell, a dog/cat food bag, two bags of flour, a big rock, a huge ball of snow, etc.

-Hurdle over something. Line up six items spaced out well and leap over them three times, taking pictures each time – pillows, cans, plants, books, rocks,  snow mounds, etc.

-Stand for 1 minute on each foot before earning the final clue, or hold a plank position with good form for at least a minute

-Walk, run or sprint a certain distance in between each clue, as well as to your final challenge. Add in GPS coordinate destinations for an extra challenge.

– For fit players, make it half a mile or more between clues. For new exercisers, keep the game layout smaller, but play quicker.

There are scavenger hunt apps you can use to create an “official” game for parties, play dates and family events. Alternatively, just make a scavenger hunt list that each team competes to finish.  String together enough movements and your scavenger hunt becomes a fun and memorable workout!