Summer is here and the kids are at home — all day. The time you had during the school year to go to the gym or get out for a thirty-minute jog is not likely to present itself again until September. But taking a vacation from your fitness goals is not an option.
Getting a babysitter for every workout is expensive and unreliable. Working out at 5:00am is a possibility, but if you’re like me, by day three you’re more likely to be hitting snooze and going back to bed. What’s a mom to do?
The answer is simple and fun: work out with your kids. There are lots of activities you can do with your kids that will be fun and challenging for the both of you.
Here are my top ten ways to workout with your kids this summer:
1. Go for a Jog or Bike Ride
Tie up those running shoes and get a helmet on those kids. Riding your bike at the same pace as your kids can be fun, but jogging alongside them is a much better workout. I can jog at the same pace my five-year-old can ride her bike.
Simply find a fun destination one or two miles away that will be exciting to reach, like the park, grocery store, or library. Although you might be able to do four or five miles without stopping, be mindful that your little ones might need to break it up. Once you’ve reached your destination and taken some time to re-hydrate and have a little snack if necessary, then head back home. Throughout the summer, work your way up to longer runs and/or a quicker pace.
2. Tread Water While They Swim
It’s safe to assume you will find yourself pool-side with your kids several times this summer. Swimming is a great way for kids to stay active, but moms tend to find themselves under an umbrella sitting, eating, drinking, watching, and waiting. Instead jump in and tread water.
As the kids jump and splash around you, set a timer for twenty minutes. The only rules are you can’t touch the sides or bottom of the pool. Treading water can be an incredibly effective exercise for calorie and fat burn, it is easy on the joints, and it is much more challenging that you may imagine.
You can engage with your kids as you tread water by having them join you for three-minute bursts, play catch, or shoot each other with water guns while you work. Trust me, you will welcome anything to stay distracted while you tread.
3. Family-Style Tabata: 20 for You and 10 for Them
Tabata intervals are an ultra-popular form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A cycle of these intervals consists of doing eight back-to-back rounds of twenty seconds of all-out effort followed by ten seconds of rest. That means each round is only four-minutes long, and depending on the exercise chosen, this can be done without any equipment.
To do these with your little ones, your work-to-rest ratio will be 20 seconds to 10 seconds, and your child’s will be 10 seconds of work with 20 seconds rest. You work while they rest, and they work while you rest. It is great motivation to go first and have your child watch you do the exercise correctly and with intensity. At the end of each cycle take a two-minute break then start again. Start with two rounds and work your way up to four. Be aware this kind of activity, when done correctly can be very challenging, and possibly too challenging for little kids.
There are hundreds of great free Tabata workouts on Pinterest and YouTube to get you started. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily create your own workouts.
4. Create a Park Obstacle Course
Just like going to the pool, a trip to the park can be a great workout for your kids — and a potentially lazy, disengaged hour of Facebooking on a bench for you. So, try making up an obstacle course for you and your kids.
For example: start at the bench, run up the stairs, over the bridge, down the slide, up the ladder, slide down the pole, jump over the swing, and then touch the bench again. One by one take turns trying to go through the obstacle course as fast as possible. Having a stopwatch for this part is strongly encouraged.
When I’ve done this in the past, we’ve had other kids at the park ask to join in and play, too. It’s not a traditional workout by any means, but you’ll be breathing hard, competing, and laughing with your kids.
5. Pick a Sport and Play It
This is a great way to get physically active without feeling like you’re actually working out. My kids and I spend almost every day playing sports. One-on-one basketball, passing a volleyball back and forth, or playing catch with a football or baseball, are just a few of the sports my husband and I enjoy doing most with our kids.
If athletics is not something you and your child do regularly, pick a sport you’d like to try together. Spend thirty minutes to an hour every day for a week practicing some basic skills. If you both like it, great. If not, try another sport. Chances are there is something out there that will get you both excited to get outside and do work, together.
6. Go for a Hike
Simple enough, right? But be smart about this one. Don’t start with Half Dome. Find a kid-friendly trail that is a safe and steady trek. Make sure everyone is wearing a hat, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes. Take breaks when necessary. Have a plan for bathroom stops.
And remember what goes up, must come down. So carefully gauge how your kids are doing as you hike; you don’t want to be carrying three kids on your way down. Despite these warnings, I strongly encourage hiking, as the combination of physical activity and the great outdoors are good for the body and the soul.
7. Do Bodyweight Exercises Using the Age=Reps Rule
If you’re someone who already works out at home, it’s not too difficult to make your kids your new training partners. At my house, we follow the Age=Reps Rule when it comes to the little ones. If I’ve given myself 10 burpees to do, then my seven-year-old does seven burpees, my five-year-old does five, and my three-year-old does three.
This method is a great way to introduce strength-building movements in reps that will gradually challenge them as they get older. Your kids will be excited to show off “how strong they are” and you will have abundant opportunity to roll film on these moments.
8. Hit Play on a Workout Video
I am a sucker for a good workout video. I can remember doing Jane Fonda videos with my mom and sister when I was a little girl. Workout videos are a great option for summertime because they can be done indoors, out of the heat, and are ready to go in a minute.
Grab a towel and water for both you and your child, pop in your favorite T25, yoga, or aerobics DVD and get moving. Allow your kids to take breaks while you push through. Encourage and high-five them throughout. The more you motivate them, the more likely they are to hang in there with you until the end.
9. Throw a Dance Party
Close the blinds, move the furniture, and pull your hair up in a ponytail — it’s time to get down. Find your favorite station on Pandora or make your own playlist on Spotify that both you and your child will love. There are many options that exist between The Frozen soundtrack and Straight Outta Compton.
Then expect to be exhausted, your kids will want to be spun, held, twirled, dipped, and lifted for much of this. You may feel like tapping out three or four songs into your party, so have a set length of time you plan to move. Commit to thirty minutes to an hour, and stick to it.
10. Swing a Kettlebell
I saved my favorite workout for last. My husband and I both love working with kettlebells. At least three nights a week, we head out to our driveway and do a minimum of ten sets of ten two-handed kettlebell swings. Over the past year, we’ve been joined by our seven-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. Having seen us swing thousands of times, they picked it up very quickly and they love getting to do legitimate exercises.
To do swings with your kids, try taking turns. Do your ten swings, then let your child do their swings (the Age=Reps Rule works great for kettlebells, too). Take a quick thirty-second walk and return to immediately swing again. Our kids love keeping track of what round we’re on by making tally marks on the sidewalk with chalk. Some nights the kids are the ones getting us off the couch to go outside and get our swings done. I love that they are keeping us accountable.
Note: the kettlebell swing is a very technical move for both adults and children. Do not attempt without proper training.
Which of These Summer Workouts Will You Try First?
Go through the list with your kids and pick out a few favorites to get started on. Not only could this be the added momentum you need to stay on course this summer, but it can help set in motion a lifetime of healthy habits for your children.