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Make gym time play time to keep kids entertained while you break a sweat

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s about that time, folks. Time to get in shape for our favorite summer outfits and time to lose the extra quarantine pounds ASAP! But getting in shape for summer usually requires a few focused exercise sessions weekly – except you might have canceled your gym membership because of quarantine (just as many others have). Also, now that your kids are home (*all* the time), it looks like there may not be any ideal workout hours open. But don’t lose heart! We’ve got some ideas.

If you can carve out the time, 3 workouts of 30 minutes each during the week is a great place to start — and the great part is, they don’t even have to feel like workouts! We’ve got some ways in mind to make gym time play time to keep kids entertained while you break a sweat:

Go for a Jog or Fast Walk with Them in the Stroller

This is usually stimulating enough with the breeze rushing by and the colorful neighborhood passing quickly on both sides to entertain the littles — or, actually, the both of you! Choose a time of day when you won’t need to stop often for traffic lights, people wanting to chat, etc, and you’ll be sure to keep your heart rate up for the whole 30 minutes. If it’s a cooler morning, you may also want to bring a light jacket to wear in the beginning and a t-shirt or tank underneath so you can peel off a layer when you warm up. Baby might need the same, although they won’t be sweating as much as you so the jacket can probably stay on. Make sure you’ve got plenty of water with you for when you get thirsty, and a sippy cup for the baby. Snacks can wait until you get home, but a teething ring or toy may not be a bad idea to bring along.

Make sure you stretch out before and after, even if it’s just a walk, and do a few minutes of a gradually slowing cool-down before you stop. It’s also good idea to keep track of your time, but don’t get too worried if the baby cries or your workout ends for some other reason and you’re off by 2 or 3 minutes. Just do a few extra minutes next time, and it’ll all even out.

Mommy/Daddy and Me Workouts

YouTube has a multitude of these videos, and most public libraries have both books and videos, ranging from ideas of exercises you can do while holding an infant  to a mommy and me yoga class to an online class full of moms and elementary age kids dancing.

Involve your baby in any safe way possible with your workouts. If they like to be lifted, and you can safely lift them several times on each arm, they can be your “weight” as you do arm raises. Same with leg lifts. But do (of course) make sure you hold them securely so they don’t fall as you lift and lower.

Still need some more ideas? This dad has some excellent exercise ideas for Daddy and Me, as does this dad. Just be careful not to do too many reps or lift too many pounds as you’re adjusting to your new routine. A few on each side should be good for starters.

Family Bike Rides

When your littles get old enough, family bike rides are the best! Take off for a ride to the park with a picnic lunch packed or just head out around the block for starters. And bring along anyone who wants to come, as long as they can keep up or you can slow down for them! The more the merrier is basic rule with family (or neighborhood!) bike rides.

Not into bikes just yet? Mix and match or switch it up then! Wear your roller blades, while dad jogs, and your 12-year-old pulls your 5-year-old in their wagon. Or you walk the dog while dad pushes the stroller and your littlest 3-year-old gets used to their new tricycle. As long as everybody gets moving and stays together in a group, you’re golden!

After every 8th set of leg lifts, take a break and twirl them around the room like Supergirl (or man) flying

If your toddler’s Pack n Play (or other type of playpen) still works for them, try it, or get out the wind-up baby swing, or plush baby rocker, — or anything that can hold them safely in one place while you move around. Give them some of their favorite puzzles and toys. Of course, the minute they see you working out, they’ll probably want out, too — but you can try. From here you can jog around the room, flip on the treadmill, or join in a bonafide ballerina workout like this livestreamed customized class from world-renowned Mary Helen Bowers.

Then, depending upon which type of workout you choose, stop about every 5-10 minutes, or after each set of 8 leg lifts, and take a break to twirl them around the room like Supergirl (or man) flying. This gives you a bit of fun, gives your muscles as break, and lets your baby know you haven’t forgotten them while exercising.

And if the little won’t stay in their playpen, you could always strap them onto your body like this and try again:

Image used with permission by copyright holder

So now that you’ve got some basic ideas of how to entertain your kiddos while you work up a sweat, which ones do you think you’ll try? Maybe a nice mix of several workouts, swapping them in or out throughout the month are ideal; that way, if you have bad weather or don’t feel like getting the bikes out one day, you can still get a decent workout in. The key is consistency and remembering to involve your little in the routine. Getting yourself in shape while teaching them good healthy habits simultaneously — there’s not much better than that, is there?! Happy workouts!

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