Playground Workouts: Not Just for Kids
I recently observed a bunch of kids playing on the monkey bars – jockeying for position, swinging their legs around, doing pull-ups without even realizing it, and flipping over and onto the ground (this used to be called a “penny drop” when I was a kid). It’s fascinating to see what kids are naturally able to do before things like self-judgment and fear of public failure and cars and desks come into the picture. They make downward dog and penny drops and freeze tag look so effortless that I often find myself inspired to find more playfulness in my own workouts….to return to the mindset of a kid playing instead of an adult “exercising.”
I live very close to a park, and I sometimes end my runs there to stretch or attempt to do a pull-up or two. Being in a park on my own (this is usually too early in the morning for any kids to be there) feels freeing and fun, which made me think about starting to do more of my workout in the park and less on the concrete. I have seen “playground workout” articles over the years, so I recently tried to find a few online for inspiration. Here are a few great exercises I came across and have started to try out:
- Straight-Legged Swing: Keep your legs straight while swinging instead of pumping them. This is a great core workout!
- Monkey Bars: There aren’t any fancy tricks here, I’ve found it’s challenging enough just to make it across (especially if you need to hold your legs/knees up to avoid scraping the ground)!
- Swing-Turned-TRX: Because the swing is mobile and flexible, it can work like TRX straps. You can do many of the things you’d do with TRX straps with a swing – inverted push-ups, plank/side plank, and tricep dips are three easy ones
- Stair Calf Raises: Almost every park has a play structure with stairs. You can get a great view of the neighborhood while you strengthen your calves on the staircase (and slide down when you’re done)!
- Bench Jump: Find a stable bench and jump on and off of it, similar to plyometric exercises you might try in the gym.
- Wind sprints: Parks usually have wide open fields (or patches of concrete if you’re in a big city) near them. If you want to mix cardio in with your core/strength work, try wind sprints in between!
A playground workout obviously works best when the park is relatively empty, both because of our adult fear of looking silly and more importantly, so we don’t crash into any little munchkins. But if you have a park nearby (and don’t live in a place where there is snow on everything right now), it’s a great way to break up workout monotony and take yourself back to the carefree days of childhood. What do you think – ready to play?