Playground Fitness

[I published this last year on another blog, but have been doing some tidying up and feel it is better placed here].

codieandiI’m a mother of 3 boys, currently aged 2, 8 and 10.  I now home school them too.  This means my personal free time is usually very limited – this doesn’t stop me wanting that ever elusive balanced life.

I’m no role model, but I want to have a balanced life. Get back into my old jeans. Get fit enough. Eat good, real and mostly unprocessed food.  Whilst raising a family and making a living alongside my husband.

My 3rd son took a toll on my body.  I always suffered during pregnancy with SPD, but my 3rd was the worst.  I could barely walk for half of my pregnancy.  It was painful.  I thought it would all go away post birth, but no.  Whilst I could walk, it was often painful. Short walks and simple trips into town were hard work, full of hurt and they left me knackered.  Chiropractors visits were helpful, but the results never lasted.  I knew deep in my heart that I needed regular exercise to help me get better.

It was hard to get started because anything faster than a walk really hurt my hips.  I truly felt like I had the hips of an old woman 🙁

As my youngest was approaching 2 years I decided I need to take action.  There had been some improvements, but for goodness sake – 2 years of SPD was driving me nuts. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and get in shape.  I started by running.  Over a course of a month I worked up to running for 30 minutes – I didn’t manage more than 5 minutes on my first attempt.  I was so proud of myself!  For me this is great progress!

But then life got busy and I struggled to find the time to do the running on my own.  I didn’t stop exercising though.  I was making sure I did things with my son(s) 2-3 times per week.  It has been a mixture of playing tennis, basketball, football, rollerblading and hanging down the skate park.  My main focus was to keep my body moving.

Throughout this time my hips got so much better.  This made me happy!  I still have a lot of work to do, but I know that what I am doing are having positive effects on my body.  I just need to keep it up and make it a habit.

I didn’t do exercise for a week and my hips started hurting again. 🙁

One morning I went to a playground with my 2 year old.  We were the first ones there or so I thought.  I spotted a man there working out, using the playground as his gym.  Now I’m sure I’ve seen this before, but something clicked in me.

“I should be doing that!” I said to myself.  Infact, why haven’t I seen other mothers doing this?  We’re always down the park, yet we all tend to stand and watch or sit, chatter and sip on coffee.

So I started working out at the playground (after the man left).  I ran. Did press ups. Played on the monkey bars. And did some tricep dips.  It was a proper work out, I even got hot and sweaty!  And my boy joined in with the squats and the running!  I can confirm that I run faster than him, but he squats much better than me.

I love this idea of working out at the playground and I’d love to make this a habit of mine.  I’ve done a bit of research and have come up with a list of exercises that can be done.  I’m not really going into detail about how to do each exercises, there is google for that.

Most times I go down the park now I make sure I have the right clothes and shoes to do some exercise.

Perhaps use this as a guide to build your own routine, that’s what I’m using it for. And just because I have mentioned something here it doesn’t mean I am quite fit enough to do them (yet)!

Running Exercises:

  • Run around the playground
  • Try a mixture of walking and running
  • Try quick sprints
  • Running on the spot
  • Running on the spot whilst lifting your legs up high in front

Monkey Bars:

  • Hang and hold
  • Hang and L Hold (life your legs up to be horizontal)
  • Swing across the monkey bars
  • Chin/pull ups
  • Hold your chin above the bars for 10-15 seconds
  • Hanging knee tuck – whilst hanging tuck your knees towards your chest
  • Hanging crunch – hang upside down, use your abs to pull your top body up

Bars:

  • Tricep dip
  • Assisted pull ups on a low bar (with body at a near horizontal angle, get under a bar and pull your body up whilst feet are touching the ground)
  • Can you do body planks on any low bars?
  • Press ups on bars

Swings:

  • Just swing!
  • Push ups with feet on swings
  • Hold on to swing with hands, lean back then pull yourself back towards swing
  • Try to do a plank with arms on swings, great for strength and balance
  • Suspension lunge – rest one foot behind the body on a swing and do a lunge
  • Swing crunch – feet on swing, hands on ground, crunch towards chest, repeat

Slides:

  • go up and down the slides!
  • lie on the slide and do a sit up (head at the bottom of the slide!)
  • run on the spot on the slide (whilst holding on the sides)

Open space:

  • Running as above.
  • Jump!
  • Jump and try to tuck knees towards chest
  • Legs: supported lunges, knee towards ground
  • Bring a jump rope, or play imaginary rope jumping!
  • Jumping jacks
  • Body squats
  • Hip extensions – lie flat, arms on the ground, lift hips up into the air and hold for a few seconds.
  • Hip rotations – standing up straight, lift leg up, then move out then down, then up and back around
  • Leg swings – swing leg back and forth
  • Side leg swings – swing each leg sideways
  • Spiderman steps – in a pushup position on the ground, bring one leg close to your hand then move back down. Repeat.
  • Are there any beams, low fences or barriers? Trying balancing on them.

Benches:

  • Step up on to benches, lifting the leg not on the bench towards your chest
  • Jump up onto benches
  • Press ups on benches (do at different heights according to your strength)
  • Reverse crunches – lie flat on bench, lift legs up towards chest
  • Straight leg reverse crunch – lie flat on bench, lift legs up until vertical

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