This article is particularly exciting for me because it is one I plan to use on a daily basis! I MUST get myself into a regular exercise routine and this makes it easy for me to do so! I hope that this inspires you as much as it has me. Chanelle…the stage is yours!
Happy New Year! The 31st of December signals that the Holiday season is drawing to an end. The first day of a new year brings much anticipation and fresh perspective for another 365 days to follow. Many like to ring in the New Year with resolutions. This year, I am excited to set goals to live a fitter, fresher, healthier lifestyle that I can sustain long after the last turkey leg is simmered into Bone Broth!
As a mother of a young toddler, it is difficult to find ways to exercise that are entertaining for her and an actual WORK OUT for me. This past year, I’ve tried a multitude of tactics to hold my Young One’s mosquito-length attention during exercise. We tried Mama and Baby Yoga (where I just became a jungle gym. Then a Milk Machine). We tried Stroller Exercise (she got bored and quickly began throwing all her toys onto the ground. Then cried. Then I was a Milk Machine). I even hired a babysitter to come watch her for an hour so I could go for a nice long run (talk about expensive! And not very sustainable…)
Then, one day, as I was chasing my daughter around on the playground, it hit me: we were exercising and playing at the same time! I finally realized that there was no “secret workout”– the best and easiest way to make a healthy fitness change was to find a way to fit exercise in with our normal routine.
I began to find ways to strength training at the playground using the equipment around me. She was happy playing, I was happy working out, we were outside, and it was FREE. These little exercises are so easy and so contagious. Whenever I am doing them, I always catch other parents surreptitiously doing them along with me!
Don’t be shy, Mamas! Join me in this Playground Circuit Training that has become a staple in my journey to be fit AND present to my child.
The Playground Boot Camp
by Chanelle Henderson
Get into plank position with your feet on the swing. Pull knees into chest, then extend back out into plank. Repeat in sets of 10.
Stay in plank position with your feet on the swing. Lower your body in a push up until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Return to plank.
All Around Abs
These sit ups are similar to a crunch on an exercise ball. You can change the intensity by sliding the swing up and down your back. I find the most challenge to be right above my tailbone in the small of my back. You can also change up the challenge by the angle of your feet.
*I add in a cross-crunch to get the obliques in this one too. As you come up, rotate your body so your elbow goes to the opposite side (right elbow, left chain on the swing)
Adjust angle of your body for more or less resistance. Place elbows into the swing. Extend arms up over your head, leaning forward. Pull arms back down to return to position.
Place a ball between your knees. Sitting up straight, compress ball to tighten inner thighs. Relax, and repeat 10 times per set.
This one is my favorite upper body exercise. It is so easy to tailor it to the intensity you need—for less, use the top of the bench, for more, use the bottom!
This is great for your back and triceps. So simple!
Standard Pull Up
Just about any bar that is taller than you is perfect for practicing pull ups. (The playground is made for climbing kids! 😉 ) If you can’t do a full pull-up, try to hang for as long as you can! It’s still great for your upper body!
Straight Leg Raises (Abs)
Suspend yourself in the air using parallel bars. Raise your legs to 90 degrees, and return (without putting weight on your feet!) You can also modify this with bent knees to decrease resistance.
This is another great one that is so adjustable. Simply angle your body inward for an increase in intensity. Start with your arm extended. Slowly pull your body towards the equipment (while facing to the side) Re-extend your arm to complete the movement.
Suspend between parallel bars. Dip body down until arms are at a 90 degree angle. Push body back up to extend arms into straight position.
Anything with a step that lets your heels drop below your toes is great for the calves. Get up on those tip-toes and FLEX!
Balance on one foot. Lower body so that knee bends. Press to standing position.
Exercise Band Circuits
Exercise bands (like the theraband or something like it) are a cheap tool that is great for a number of resistance movements. But, in a pinch, a number of stretchy objects you probably have floating around can work as stand-ins.
- String together a number of headbands.
- Use a Baby Wrap.
- Grab an old pair of tights.
- Anything with a little give and that can knot easily will do!
Inner Leg Workout
Loop your exercise band around the equipment. Place one foot into the looped side. Extend one leg away from your body to about 30 degrees, then pull leg to close.
Same idea, but place band behind your standing leg so that the resistance is felt when extending your leg rather than closing your leg.
You can also use this same movement for your arms, triceps, hamstrings, and deltoids! Just adjust the height of your band to chest-height for arms
For cardio, I usually find a way to jog either AROUND the playground or TO the playground from my home. There’s this great little park about 2 miles from home with a fitness trail around a lake and a great fenced-in playground. Sometimes I’ll put her in the bike seat and pedal there too. That usually works out well!
My FAVORITE to do for cardio/strength when I don’t have a lot of space to run!
Get into plank position. Hop to bring knees to your chest. Spring in the air! (Extending your arms up) Return to crouch, and extend back into plank. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT! Whew!
The great thing about these exercises is that I can move around as my child plays. They’re a great opportunity to practice Natural Consequences for her, and they KICK my BUTT every time!
The next time you take your little one to the park, try a few of these moves instead of sitting on the bench. You’ll be a Fit Mama in no time!
Toddler Helmet (Grace has the yellow chick one)
Stainless water bottle w/ straw