Parent Play

Appears in the April 2020 issue.

By Bill Waltzek

Illustrations by Ievgenii Volyk

The fun of childhood doesn’t have to stop when you become a parent. This spring take it back to the ultimate kid escape—the playground. But now, instead of sliding down the kiddie slide, you’ll be getting a workout while your kids play. Warm weather only lasts a few months in Illinois, and when it does, I like to take full advantage of it by taking my clients’ (and my own) workouts outdoors. The sun fuels us, and we all get a new physical adventure in the processes.

GOAL The workout can be done in 20, 30, or 40 minutes, which is perfect if you are strapped for time. See if you can outlast your kids by completing the most rounds in the time you have.

EQUIPMENT This full-body workout requires no equipment—just find a nearby playground and get to work.

With torso straight and vertical, and arms bent 90 degrees, run as fast as possible with arms pumping “hip to lip.” To mark off 100 meters at the park, think 10 school buses in length. Do a sprint after each of the five following exercises.
Jump up or stand on a bench and grab monkey bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width. Perform a pull-up by bringing chest to bar; pause, then lower yourself slowly to the start position. To modify: Find a vertical pole and plant feet next to it, with arms extended as hands grab pole at shoulder height. Pull yourself toward the pole, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top; hold for 2 seconds then lower. Do 5 reps.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart at a comfortable distance from the box (playground landing or bench). Drop quickly into a quarter squat, then extend your hips, swing your arms, and push your feet through the floor to propel yourself up on the box. Step down and repeat. To modify: Step up on the platform with right leg, then bring left leg up to waist height, then back down to ground. Return to standing position and repeat on other side. Do 10 reps.
Grasp and hang from high bar with slightly wider than shoulder width overhand grip. Raise legs by flexing hips and knees until hips are completely flexed or knees are well above hips. Return until hips and knees are extended downward. To modify: Bend legs. Do 15 reps.
Place hands at edge of platform, slightly wider than (and in line with) shoulders, supporting weight only on toes and hands (body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles). Brace core by contracting abs and lower chest to platform; pause, then quickly push yourself back to starting position. Do 10 reps.
Stand with feet far apart; one foot forward and other foot behind. The rear foot should be elevated and resting on the platform your performed your box jumps. Squat down by flexing knee and hip of front leg. Allow heel of rear foot to rise up while knee of rear leg bends slightly until it almost makes contact with floor. Return to original standing position by extending hip and knee of forward leg. Repeat. Continue with opposite leg. Do 5 reps on each side.