Archive for the ‘Cardio’ 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!



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.

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.

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!


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.