How often do you take your kids to the park a week? Once? twice? You have THE PERFECT opportunity to get some training in for yourself, while your kids are busy playing.
Training outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air, have plenty of space to move around in, and gives you variety as you can go to many different locations.
If you thought that the playground was just for kids, think again. There is so much at the park that you can incorporate into a training session that will leave you sweating. If you are lucky to live near a park or green strip that also has an assortment of outdoor gym equipment, then you get even more variety. There is nothing that excites me more than going to the park and trying out the playground and surrounding equipment, but I’m just a big kid.
While your kids are having a play, you have a great chance to look around at what is close that you can use to train with. A park bench makes a great spot for incline push ups, dips, step ups or bench jumps. Find a grassy spot for squats, lunges, froggers, get back ups or planks, just to name a few.
Any sort of rise or hill is the perfect spot to practice some hill runs or my favourite… CRAWLS!! If you don’t have hills or slopes, never fear, an open area will also make the perfect spot to run or crawl.
If that feels a little too awkward at first, why not start on the playground with your kids. Nothing will get your heart pumping more than climbing ladders, sliding down slides and poles, running up ramps or swinging around. What’s more, your kids will LOOOOVE the chance to play with you too.
If you have ever taken a moment to watch the way your kids move, you will notice that they can get themselves into some pretty interesting positions. They can jump up and down, get their feet up around their ears, bend, squat, twist and crawl without effort. All of our bodies are designed to move this way. Years of sitting and inactivity have left many adults without the ability to move their bodies with freedom, ease and without pain.
By getting out and getting active in the park while your kids are playing, you will be giving your body the opportunity to learn to move the way you could as a child. Now, I am not saying this movement is going to come back quickly. If you are consistent with practicing to move, you are going to find within a matter of months that you feel looser, stronger, fitter, and more able to move with much less pain.
Getting out and moving about should be fun. It should make you smile and laugh, when you squat down and crawl about, or when you climb on top of something, just to jump off. Being active should not feel like a chore or something else added on to the bottom of your ever growing list of things to do. If you don’t enjoy it, it will always be a fight to fit it in to your day.
This is the reason that spending your time in the park with your kids, is the absolute BEST time to have some mummy “play time”. Having said all that, if you are sitting there trying to think of things to do on your own, it may not be very motivating, at all. If you don’t have a plan on what to do BEFORE you head out, chances are you are not going to have much more of a plan to follow once you are already there. This is why planning your park adventure is super important.
The best training session should be simple. Contrary to what you may have heard from the mainstream fitness industry. You don’t need a bunch of different exercises every time you train. You can alternate between just a couple of sessions that each have only 4 or 5 movements that will drastically improve your fitness, mobility and strength. If you spend every session learning a new exercise, you are never going to get the opportunity to master ANY movement. Repetition equals quality.
A nice basic park circuit might look a little like this.
Squat x 10
Push up/Incline Push up (on park bench) x 5
Step up (on park bench) x 10 Each leg
Plank x 30 seconds
Brisk walk/Jog/Run x 60 seconds
Repeat 5-8 times. Resting only as needed between each exercise and each round.
By starting with fundamental movements like squats, push ups and planks you are going to give yourself the right start by strengthening your natural movement patterns before jumping in to anything too complex. There are no hacks for your fitness.
Re-learning how to move your body should be fun, inspiring and leave you feeling energised and ready to face anything.
Being consistent in getting active and moving will help you to not only keep up with your kids, but also set you up for the future, to keep up with your Grandkids too.