Archive for the ‘Exercise Specific’ 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…

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!


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.

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).