So, here’s the thing. I am a fitness instructor. Movement is my life. In fact, I would say (for better or worse) I don’t know how to stop moving. It’s not like I don’t realise the couch is right there, but I can’t bring myself to sit on it because I know that as soon as I do, someone who is not yet tall enough to ride most rollercoasters will be beckoning me off it. When asked to do a fitness challenge for my family, I tried. I mean, after all, I am a fitness instructor. As it turns out, even for a fitness instructor, motivating your children to exercise is far harder than it seems. I knew from that point on, things will have to venture into the land of hot glue guns, googley eyes, and makeshift obstacle courses. My challenge was simply this. Take anything and everything you have lying around you home and make it into a fitness fun game. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, let’s do this with the least amount of clean up and greatest amount of affordability possible. 10 Days, 10 fitness challenges, LET’S GO!
Day #1 – My friend the yoga block:
One rainy pandemic day my child was literally climbing the walls. For the record, I did use the word literally in the correct context because I found my daughter gleefully hanging from our staircase banister and then catapulting herself down to the couch. This fun game was only going to end poorly unless I found a way to redirect her energy. After much coaxing with baby shark and other suggested tunes which I hoped would get all my three children up and wiggling, I decided to look around for some friends. Since there were none to be found due to social restrictions, plan B was to make one. I took a yoga block, and glued googley eyes and rhinestones to it. Yes, I bedazzled a yoga block. After all, I did grow up in the 90’s. Lo and behold, my children LOVED it. They hoped, over the block, skipped over the block and took turns balancing on it. I tried to cool them down with some mindful breathing and pretend bubble blowing. Unfortunately, that was a fleeting moment, but the block sure was a hit.
Day #2 – The Hula Hoop Loop Game:
Before you get too excited about the title, spoiler alert, it’s like playing fetch with your kids. Spoiler alert #2, IT ROCKS!!! I got my hula hoops at the dollar store, one for each child. We went to a basketball court which was walking distance from my home. The rules of the game are simple. Roll the hoop at the starting line and have your child catch the hoop before it hits the ground. Caution, if you do this what felt like 1,000 times like I did, your child will either want to nap HARD, or possibly fall asleep while eating their mac and cheese at the dinner table. Either way, it’s a cardiovascular success.
Day #3 – We’re going in a bear hunt; we’re going to catch a RUUUUNN!!!
Again, another simple pleasure that goes a long way on the cardiovascular front. My kids love bear stories. We have read Goldilocks, Winnie the Pooh, we’re going on a bear hunt, Brown Bear Brown Bear, what do you see? And Corduroy. My kids believe bears will do anything for honey, like their porridge just right, and wear green overalls with a missing button while rummaging along a department store. Despite all the friendly images, my kids do understand that a bear encounter would not be a laughing or playful matter. So, naturally we pretend to go looking for one. We have a park by our home that has a big field and some wooded areas. We find a home base, and once we hike within the shallow wooden area, we scream bear and run back to our home base. This was done on repeat until sweat was dripping and from our brow and as an added bonus we run circles around our “base” just for fun.
Day #4 – Glow Party
When the regular ol’ dance party is just not inspiring enough, we add glow sticks to the mix. For this challenge my playlist consisted of Hot Dog, The Floor is Lava, and of course the ever so classic Baby Shark. To add a little variety, I slipped in some other party songs like Hound Dog and Jump in the Line. I also paired this challenge with a friendly game of freeze dance. We layered on themes such as “Now, dance like you’re in a snowstorm!” Or “Now, only dance on one leg!” They loved it and this challenge certainly got them moving.
Day #5 – The obstacle course
This challenge can admittedly get a little messy. Basically, you take everything around your home that can be jumped over or crawled under and lay it out in one area. Create a start and finish to the course, get your stopwatch ready, and off they go! Make sure to have additional supplies reserved for bonuses challenges after the kids have completed the course a few times. I also paired it with music and time challenges for more fun.
Day #6 – Let’s go Ride a Bike!
Not much to elaborate on here. Except to point out that kids love bikes! To keep things a bit more entertaining, I used sidewalk chalk to make lanes. We did races, or simply rode around for about an hour. It was GREAT!
Day #7 – Simon Says Fitness addition.
Have you every played Simon says? Well, instead of the usual “place your hands on your head” try doing 20 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, or squat exercises. For some reason unto which I cannot figure out, If I plainly tell them to do any of these things I am completely ignored. However, If Simon says it, it must be true. This game can be done inside or outside. If you choose to take it outside, feel free to add some sprinting into the mix. “Simon says to spring all the way to the end of the yard and back.”
Day #8 – The Parachute
I think this is my favourite because it excites them beyond measure. I ordered a parachute on amazon (here is the link https://a.co/d/hlY6tfj) This can be done inside your living room, or outside for more space. We danced on it, played colour games, and did a contest about who can bear crawl under it the most. This is basically a fun version of a plank for kids. After that excitement faded a bit, we draped it over some chairs to make a tent. Admittedly, by that point the kids began running the show and fitness was no longer the mission, but it was fun!
Day #9 – The Colour game
For this game you can get creative with what you already have at home. You can grab uno cards, flash cards, your colourful parachute, or even just designate a person to shout out colours when the music stops. Here’s how it goes. Assign a fitness move to each colour. This can be jumping jacks, bear crawls, rolling like a ball, or running in place to name a few. Play music so the kids can let loose and dance a bit, When the music stops toss a random color on the floor. As soon as the kids see the color, they have 20 seconds to do their fitness challenge. For additional motivation I gave stickers when I saw standout form. We had a great little fitness session with this one!
Day#10 – The Bosu Ball Challenge
Core strength is important for children. It promotes overall balance and coordination. In no way is it about how a child looks, but it’s more about getting a child to understand where their center of gravity is. The Bosu Ball (or spaceship) can be super fun. Of course, this needs to be done with adult supervision because this object is meant for adults and not children. We timed it 20 seconds at a time. We flipped the ball over and the kids took turns with their hands wherever they can on the flat area. With this position, the kids had lots of fun options to do ab work. They kicked their knees into their chest (mountain climbers), jumped their booty up and down, and jumped their legs apart and together. I had to hold the ball still, but even a slight unstable surface was challenging for their core.
So, there you have it. Our family 10-day fitness challenge. Some of these challenges only last about 15 – 20 Minutes. They certainly got the family moving and broke up tension in times of need. Plus, you will be surprised at how 15 – 20 minutes can really make an improvement to your child’s overall health, and yours!
Kim D’Agnese is a New York native, she studied as a summer enrichment student at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and later taught their junior division. Kim graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA in dance, and also became an adjunct professor. She received her Pilates certification through LindaFit Pilates and her Prenatal Pilates certification from the Center of Women’s Fitness. In addition, she holds a 200-hour yoga certification from LifePower Yoga. For the past 11 years Kim was a Master Trainer/Teacher Trainer at Physique57, she toured the world teaching Barre technique in places such as the Philippines, Columbia, and Bahamas. You can see her featured in their DVD’s sold Nationwide and online streaming videos. Kim was a company member with Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company in NYC for over 10 years. Under the instruction of Lori Belilove, Kim has performed and assisted with Master classes Nationally at institutions such as The University of Memphis, Kansas State University, Randolph College, Franklin & Marshall College, and The Duncan Dance Academy in Shenzhen, China. In 2020 Kim created her own business, The KIM Method LLC. She holds online group classes, private lessons and has an on-demand platform of over 100 workouts! A fun personal note, Kim is the proud mother of 3 children and a lover of all things chocolate.