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Exercise Like a Kid!

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio

As a child I remember riding my bicycle to school, soccer practice or my best friend's house. We'd play baseball, basketball, kick the can, or make up some crazy game on the fly. We'd run in the creek, swim at a pool, climb trees and cruise down the slip 'n slide. Then at the end of the day we'd ride our bikes another 2-5 miles back home and fall into bed just after the sun went down. What a blast those days were.

We didn't need a Bowflex, an Ab Rocker, The South Beach Diet or a gym membership to stay healthy and fit; we did it by having fun!

What happened? Why do we as a country spend billions of dollars on weight loss and fitness each year? And why, after all that money spent, are waistlines expanding each year?

It's time to get real. I don't care how old you are, how little time you have, how much stress you feel or how technological advances are to blame. It's time we get off our gluteus and get moving. We need to stop making excuses.

I recently overheard a lady tell her friend that she "had to go to the gym today after work." What? Therein lies the problem, she feels like it's an obligation, a duty, or something to dread. This feeling likely stems from a boring exercise routine, a previously bad fitness experience, or a lack of benefit to her efforts.

It's time to exercise like a kid again. Seriously, go do something that is fun. Turn your "have to" into, "I get to" exercise today! Semantics? A play on words? No, you just need to find something that you enjoy rather than something you dread. Imagine having to see your dentist 3-4 times a week. Now that's something to dread! Make your fitness routine fun.

I can't tell you what is fun for you, but I can guarantee that you have been engaged in fun activities in the past that would be considered sufficient to elevate your heart rate and work your muscles. Get in touch with those activities and do them 4 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Hey, if it's fun, maybe you'll go even longer.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Dance to your favorite music in your living room. Invite your spouse and the kids to join in!
  2. Jump on a trampoline, leap around in a moon bounce (remember, think and act like a kid!)
  3. Go in the backyard (or basement in the winter) and chase your kids, they've got plenty of energy!
  4. Play Frisbee Golf, or just throw the Frisbee and go chase it!
  5. Try rock-climbing. Yes, you can do it, and yes, it's safe!
  6. Jump rope, play hopscotch, or get the hips moving with a hula-hoop. So what if the neighbors are watching, you'll inspire them!
  7. And just because you're no longer 14 doesn't mean you cannot go swimming, ride a bike, or play your favorite sport! Tennis, racquetball, soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, even golfing without the cart are all great ways to get your exercise in.

At our fitness boot camps, Total Fitness Makeover classes, and with some of our personal training clients, we incorporate the bear crawl, the crab walk and the wheel barrel walk. We ask participants to fly like superman or superwoman, become a banana, do the Icky Shuffle or Electric Slide, and a wide array of other activities that make fitness fun and work the body rather well. We listen to fun music and make exercise an enjoyable social outlet all designed to have a good time and forget that after all, we're "working out".

Have some fun, remember how you felt when you were a child and make fitness a consistent part of your lifestyle. We have plenty of time to be serious when we "have to" go to work!