February 27, 2012
Ever get a nostalgic feeling to run free and ditch those mind-numbing hours at the gym full of repetitions and tedious treadmilling? While I love a good sweat session at the gym, I have to break up my workouts with some “real life” activity. Tennis, skiing, hiking – the fun outdoorsy stuff. However, athletic equipment can be a pricey purchase, and not everyone has easy access to hiking trails or ski lifts. How else can we get outside and still burn some calories?
This may sound dreadful if you were one of those kids who just “talked” with friends at recess (ahem, me). But these activities are surprisingly more fun as an adult, so find a park, grab a guy friend or a gal pal and start playing outside. Yes, I’m serious. In case you have forgotten what to do on a playground, here are a few recess-inspired activities to get your heart rate up.
Jump rope – If you’ve worked with a personal trainer, you have the same feelings I do toward jump roping: It is SO much harder than I remember! Throw that boot camp training style out the window and make jump roping fun. Rather than doing 30 seconds of the hardest jump roping possible, just skip rope for a few minutes like you did as a cute little 8-year-old. It will still burn calories but won’t exhaust you for the rest of your work out. Use it as a warm up, a cool down or part of an interval workout alternating with sit-ups and push-ups.
Hop scotch – This may sound silly, but a little hopping is great for balance, cardio, and sculpting nice calves. It’s kind of fun, too, especially if you race your workout buddy (try best of five to really get the heart rates going).
Kick around a soccer ball – Most parks have a field or open green space, so this is an easy way to workout. My husband and I took a soccer ball to the park before the weather turned chilly here in Northern California. After about 15 minutes, I was wiped. Not only was I running, but kicking, side-stepping and shuffling. Soccer players are some of the most fit athletes out there. Have you seen David Beckham or Hope Solo? Check them out for a little inspiration.
Monkey bars – Hello, upper body workout. If you’re like me, you haven’t even laid eyes on a pair of monkey bars since 7th or 8th grade. But I can imagine they are an ass kicker. For starters, monkey bars require you to hold your own body weight. Add to that some swinging action and extra force to get from one bar to the other, and we’ve got a completely challenging way to strength train the triceps, biceps, shoulders and pectorals.
Exercise doesn’t always have to be in a serious, hardcore gym setting. I’m sure there’s a park just down the street that’s starting to sound kind of fun right about now. Go play!