Archive for the ‘Teen and Up’ Category

Desk Chairs are so Passe’

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Say goodbye to the desk and school chair. Thankfully! No more chairs

Pedal Power

Hamster Wheel Desks

Treadmill Desks

And for those easily intimidated, a standing desk.

Life is too short to sit and watch it go by.

International Games

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Some international twists to make games new again:

-Play a tag game from Pakistan called Oonch Neech.  The child who is “it” decides to be oonch (“up”) or beech (“down”).  Neech means the carpet or ground is safe and runners can only be tagged when conch (“up”) on a couch, pillow, rock, tree or other obstacle off the ground. Or play the reverse.

-Eskimo Baseball is like our baseball, but instead of running the bases, run back and forth between the pitcher and home base to get a point. International GamesIf you are in the right weather, play with a snow ball instead of softball.  This game seems like an alternative to cricket.

-Play Rock, Paper, Scissors the way kids in Sumatra do. The pinky finger is the ant (semut), the pointer finger is a person (orang), and the thumb out is an elephant (gajah). The elephant beats the person, the person beats the ant, and the ant crawls into the elephants ear and wins. For variation and dynamic movement, use your whole body instead of fingers.

-In Denmark, Tiger and Sheep is played on all fours. One tiger has to pull all the sheep down until their torsos touch the floor. The goal is to be the last sheep alive. I think my children play this everyday without having a name for it! The family fitness change is that I play too!

Want more? Check out the International Games  The games have a little flag in the corner so you can see what part of the world the game is played in, how many players, the age of the players, if it’s played indoors or outdoors, if materials are needed, and even notes for teachers. Excellent!


Friday, September 26th, 2014

I just played handball, well kind of.

Our game requires a ball of any size and a vertical flat surface – like the side of an apartment building, garage door or wall. Hit the ball against the wall with your hand or fist and accrue points when the other misses the ball. Handball

Alternatively, just take turns trying to hit the ball against the wall. We didn’t use points because both of us where having fun just practicing techniques. Besides the incredible hand eye and body coordination, we were using our bodies in all four planes of motion.  We moved front and back while lunging to hit the ball, laterally to squat and get the ball, and around each other in a funny dance where we kept running into each other. I’m sure it looked ridiculous, but we not only had fun, we had a great, dynamic workout.

Official handball is played pretty differently. However, our game was a good start for any ball game she (or I) might want to play in the future be it volleyball, handball or tennis. The moves are all similar.

I couldn’t improve on the bonding time and new ways of moving. Plus, being so focused on the ball and position of each other, we couldn’t think about anything else. We were truly in the moment.

Movement Toward Learning

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

As a school teacher, I’m always looking for ways to fully engage students in their lessons. This summer, while teaching summer school, I taught my students how exercise helps their brains. As a reward for doing great on a lesson, the children would get to run a lap around the playground.  For brain breaks, we would do push-ups, jumping jacks, etc. in the classroom. It was the first time in my life I had to tell people, “No, I know you want to do more push-ups, but let’s sit down now and study more phonics.” The fitness trainer in me was extremely conflicted!

Last week, I took a fabulous workshop about how a story can be read, told or acted out – the latter being the most memorable for children.  I concur completely. Children will remember a historical figure better if they acted out the person’s life, rather than just read a book or were told a story about the person. They will also remember a foreign language better with physical movements.Dance

Physical and theatrical learning work! For the last six years, there have been a group of scientists and athletes who explain their Ph.D. research in dance. It’s called Dance Your Ph.D.   There is prize money for five categories: physics, chemistry, biology, social sciences, and the best dance of the year. Think about this: math and science artistically explained through dance.

Check out a fabulous explanation here: Dance versus Powerpoint. This talk drives home the point that very complex ideas and lessons can be broken down and simply communicated through physical expression, not just pen and paper.   This very funny one is the 2014 winner of the year.  Scroll down to the middle of the page to watch the sperm competition.

What else could we learn, teach and communicate if we did it through dance? Think about turf wars in break dancing, passion in tango, and excitement in Lindy Hop. Emotions, new information and self expression, all through dance. Try it with your children and see…

Peek-a-boo walking planks

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The runner PattiSue Plumer said “Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.” Peek-a-boo

Like brushing our teeth, we play with our children daily too. Combine kid time with exercise time!  Try peek-a-boo walking planks!  Do the planks super slow, super fast, and side-ways. Really. Always side-ways too!

Exaggerate the arms and legs while pulling your navel up.  Have speed and/or distance races.  Throw in push-ups in the middle for more challenge/strength. If you want to make it even more fun, try wheelbarrows.


Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Channel the excitement and enthusiasm about the World Cup into playing! Get out and kick around the soccer ball on the sidewalk, street or park. Practice every move you see. Try to pass the ball with the inside of your foot and the top of your laces like in real soccer. Pass it back and forth with your knees or head.A boy enjoys playing soccer

The point is to spend as long as possible playing. Make it a game. Bring out the neighbors and have them be defense or goalie.  Practice fancy moves like the bicycle kick or behind the back cut.  There are so many fun soccer moves to try!

Set up shoes or cones and weave the soccer ball in and around the cones like official soccer practice. Don’t be a soccer parent standing at the sidelines watching. Get in there and PLAY!  Your kid will be happy he/she is faster than you, and you’ll be happy you are all moving.

If you have older kids, each can pretend to be a country playing against each other.  Take it seriously, and slide into the ball.  Yell “gooooooal” in whatever language your ” country” speaks.

If you have space where you are watching the game, stand up and dribble the ball side to side.  Kick it back and forth between commercials.  Be a soccer player, if only for a few weeks. Chances are you and your kid(s) will want to continue long after the World Cup is over.

Some of the most Inspiring Athletes

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

The most common reason people give for not exercising is lack of time.  As a parent of two children who works inside and outside the home, I understand.

Some of the people I admire most are athletes who have to go above and beyond to exercise. Yes, they have to prioritize their time, but they also have to put on a prosthetic, change wheelchairs, and demonstrate amazing drive to bring fitness into their lives.Inspiring Athletes

One organization I really admire is the Challenged Athletes Foundation. For 20 years, they have helped people of all ages, wounded soldiers and “individuals with physical challenges who desire a balanced  life of work, family, friends and fitness.” They partner athletes with a mentor who has similar challenges, so confidence and skill is passed on.  They are an outstanding organization that truly partners fitness with family and friends and changes lives.  If you want a goal this summer, train for one of CAF’s many fundraising events.

Next time you are wondering if you have time to work out, feel like it’s too hot/cold, are tired, or fill-in-the-excuse here, think about the challenged athletes who go for it. Whether they compete in Ironmans (notice the range of ages in the pictures) dance,  go for a bike ride, snowboard (watch this one!) or compete in the Paralympic Games (there are 28 competitive sports from rowing to wheelchair fencing!), be inspired, be moved — figuratively and literally.

If you want more inspiration, some other great organizations for adaptive athletes are Adaptive Action Sports, Extremity Games, and Disabled Sports USA, and Athletes with disAbilities Network.

Bocci Ball

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Tonight, we finished dinner 30 minutes before the kid’s bedtime. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and it seemed like a bummer to stay in the house and do the never-ending dishes.

My son took out our Bocci ball kit and we started playing in the backyard. It was incredibly fun! While I was wondering how many steps I was racking up on my pedometer, my kids were running circles around me. I’m sure if I asked them to walk two miles they wouldn’t have, but running around after the ball in our very small back yard was something entirely different.Bocci Ball

Bocci ball made me think of the post I wrote called “Throw Something”.  It’s really similar except my game needs no special equipment. Bocci Ball is an actual official game.

However  tonight, there were almost no rules in our game. The first one who reached six points won. We tossed a white ball, then each of us took turns throwing our colored balls to see whose landed closest. For me, the point was to be outside, stretch my legs and have fun. For my kids, they were literally falling over laughing with their crazy ball rolls. They were so sweaty after 30 minutes they had to take a shower.

It really doesn’t take much to add fitness and family time together. When we play again (which my son declared would be every night),  I’ll add new rules, such as holding a squat in between my turns or lunging to pick up the balls. I could add three crazy running laps in the backyard between games. Actually, the kids did this automatically in excitement. Next time, I’ll promise to do it with them.

Incidentally, as a side note, we met two new neighbors as a result of playing. Any guesses why?

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?