A gym membership is not required in order to be fit. You can get a playground or park work out with or without kids. It’s a time to have fun and be a little creative with an outdoor work out.
There is a ton of great equipment at any local playground or park. All you need is a little creativity and a thick skin so you’re not embarrassed about using the park as your fitness facility.
But before you dive right into the exercises, prepare your muscles for the work ahead by getting them warm. Take a brisk walk around the perimeter of the park (or chase your little one a few times through the equipment) for about three to five minutes and you’ll be ready!
Exercises for your park work out
Alternating Step Ups
Step with one leg, explode the other knee up towards the sky. Step back down, and switch legs. If you can’t explode the other knee up yet, just come to a full standing position on the top of the bench – that’s more than okay!
I switched back and forth between the right and left legs. You could also do what’s called a static lunge, meaning you complete all reps on one side, then switch legs. Alternating lunges require a little more balance and stability, and raise your heart rate more than static lunges. The most important thing to notice is that my front knee is behind my toes.
Stand in a lunge position with your back foot up on the bottom of the slide. Lower down, bending your front knee to about 90 degrees, being careful not to let your front knee to jut out beyond your toes. Push back up to your starting position, focusing most of your weight through your front heel (rather than your back foot). Be sure to keep your body erect and to keep the movement going up and down rather than forward and back, which would place undue strain on the knee. After your first 30-60-second set, you’ll need to switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Playground Push Ups
Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the back of a bench to do your pushups. Keep your abs and butt tight and your elbows at your side. Keep your body straight and slowly bend your elbows until your chest just about touches the bench, then push yourself back to your starting position. Be sure to avoid arching your back or sagging through your midsection and for the most benefit, make a good effort to go through the full range of motion.
Note: The great thing about playground push ups is that you can make them harder or easier by varying the height of the surface you use for your hand placement. If you’re a beginner, choose something fairly high, so that you are standing almost straight up for the starting position. For a real challenge, choose the seat part of the bench or a low platform so that your body is much closer to horizontal, as with traditional push-ups.
Park Bench Dips
Sit on a park bench and then lift your body weight up and out, palms on the edge of the bench and facing out and your elbows straight. Your knees will be bent and your feet flat on the ground. I prefer to stretch my legs out. Bend your elbows and then straighten to dip down and up. Be sure not to rock back and forth away from and back to the bench. Instead, keep your back very close to the bench during the entire movement and limit the movement to up and down.
I truly love going to the gym but a change of scenery is sometimes necessary. It is also good to have some fun with lil people at the same time.
Do you ever exercise with the kids at the park? What’s your favorite playground move?