Still working out from home? Yeah, we feel you. Kids still home? We get it. Even as gyms and schools reopen, we’re all largely remaining at home, which is good for health and safety reasons...but not so good for our routines. How are you supposed to effectively work out when the kids are always asking for a grilled cheese or demanding to put on cartoons while your livestream is playing? Ruthless situation.
But I think I may have cracked it.
At least while the weather is still warm, you’re likely bringing the kiddos to the park pretty often, letting them run off some energy while you enjoy some vitamin D. But it’s time to multitask! The playground isn’t just a youngster’s wonderland -- it’s also full of prime workout equipment, and you may not even know! You can get a full workout done with your kids distracted but still in sight, and your subsequent trip to the ice cream shop will be that much sweeter.
Next time a sunny afternoon begs for a trip to the park, lace up those Nikes, pull up those athleisure leggings you’ve been using more for the “leisure” than the “athletic” parts and make your own workout.
First, you know that bench you always choose to watch your kids run around from? Maybe you listen to a podcast or catch up on your Instagram feed while you’re there? Well, that bench is about to get so much more useful.
Grab the edges of the bench, feet out in front of you, for some tricep dips, or flip around and use it for standing push-ups. A few sets of those and you’ll already be feeling it.
If you need more upper body burn, head to the monkey bars (or any bar in the jungle gym) and practice your pull-ups. Bodyweight exercises never felt so effective.
Still on your bench? Good, because we’ve got some more work to do. First, try some bench jumps, where you start on the ground and launch yourself as high into the air as possible, landing lightly with your feet fully on the bench. Step (don’t hop!) back down, and repeat until your quads start complaining.
Then, stand sideways alongside the bench and step up with just one leg, lifting the other until it’s perpendicular to the ground, lower and repeat. Switch to the other side, giving your glutes, quads and hamstrings some rest in between these lateral step-ups.
All done? Time to hit the slide -- but not for what you think! Face away from the bottom of the slide and scoot the toe of one foot up onto the edge. Bend both knees to 90-degree angles for a reverse lunge, then pop back up. Do a few decent-sized sets per leg, keeping the weight in your back glute. Oh, and watch for kids trying to come down the slide!
The options for core are endless at the park. From the slide to the jungle gym to the swings, you’ll be running around this playground as much as the kids.
Head to the top of the slide and act like you’ll be going down headfirst and backwards. Hook your feet to each side of the lip of the slide, and start your decline sit-ups. Who needs a machine at the gym?
From the monkey bars, you can do some leg lifts or knee tucks, adding twists if you so choose. Just hang down by your hands and lift your legs -- consider those abs fired up. You can also find a bar to hang from, but upside down, by your knees. Crunch up and burn it out!
To the swings! First, place your toes on the swing and face the ground in a plank position. Using just your abdominal muscles, pull the swing toward your chest while you send your booty to the sky. You’ll end up in a pike position and your tummy won’t know what hit it. You’re just using the swing to replace sliders at the gym! You can then spin around and place your palms on the swing and simply hold a plank. You’ll feel like you’re on a Bosu ball as you try to keep still.
Cardio is a necessary evil, but you could at least try to make it fun. Aside from doing laps around the playground or, you know, chasing your kids, you can use your surroundings to get your heart rate up.
Every jungle gym has platforms, so find one that the kids aren’t using and use it as a step. Start with plyo step-ups, where you add a hop in between your power steps, switching legs after each step. Then you can hit some toe taps, jogging in place and just brushing the step in front of you with your toes as you go. The faster, the better!
From there, back to the slide, where you’ll grab onto the sides facing in and up and start running in place in pseudo mountain climbers. You get to reward yourself with a slide down once you’re sufficiently burnt out.