As families shelter in place together, keeping active is a great way to spend family time, decrease stress and improve overall health – not to mention that it burns a lot of energy. In a live panel, “Family Fitness During COVID-19,” experts shared tips to develop engaging and time-efficient programming to support clients who want to or need to exercise as a family – and have fun while doing it! Panelists included Brett Klika, CSCS, CEO of SPIDERfit Kids and international fitness leader; Anna Woods, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, founder and owner of sheSTRENGTH; and Kathleen Tullie, MBA, founder and executive director of BOKS (Build Our Kids Success), a scientifically-proven physical activity program for children.
Exercise has many benefits for youth from reducing anxiety and depression to improving concentration and sleep, shares Kathleen. During this time, it’s important to reimagine physical activity for youth so it stays a part of their routine. And, Anna adds, it’s important to keep your own workout routine in check.
To keep the family active, invite kids to join your workout if appropriate. Anna’s kids help her pick out the warm-up or cool-down so they feel more engaged. If your kids are not old enough to participate, Anna recommends having a “workout toy box” where specific toys are only shared during parent-workout time. In addition, there are many live-streaming exercise classes and recordings geared for kids. Brett hosts a daily class as does BOKS; these are great options to build in exercise as part of the family’s new housebound routine.
Get teenagers involved with a little creativity and flexibility. Host friendly family competitions, participate in social media exercise challenges, use a reward system (e.g., exercise time for screen time) or empower the teen to create the family exercise activity.
Overall, all of the ACE experts agreed: Don’t overthink it; have fun and be flexible! Some of the options mentioned may require some additional thought or preparation, but the important thing is to keep you and your family moving where it can simply be a family walk one day and a live-streaming class the next.
Obstacle Courses with Household Items
Create fun and engaging obstacle courses with everyday household items and some imagination. Brett recommends demonstrating each obstacle with kids so they understand the movement (e.g., run around the chair then do 5 frog jumps). As kids get more accustomed to the variety of obstacle course options, encourage them to create their own obstacle courses to challenge the entire family. Some ideas for obstacle course items are listed below, but feel free to get creative and use what you have available.
- Chairs – Go over, around or under chairs.
- Pillows – Practice balance by standing on pillows.
- Plastic cups and tupperware – Place on the floor for makeshift cones.
- Blankets – Use on non-carpeted floors to push and pull participants or objects. Blankets can also be draped over chairs for tunnels.
- Sidewalk chalk – Draw agility ladders, lines or arrows to follow, baseball bases or hopscotch squares.
- Tape – Can’t go outside? Use tape to mark areas indoors.
- Cardboard boxes – Create quick tunnels to crawl through or use small cardboard boxes to jump over.