By John Abdo
Many believe that adults and children should exercise separately and with their own (specialized) exercises and equipment. However, with today’s fast-paced lifestyles, convenient and group (family) activity sessions enables parents and their children to enjoy the extraordinary benefits the fitness lifestyle offers while creating lifelong bonding experiences.
Although there are plenty of formal, and expensive, machines and methods we can choose to strengthen and shape our bodies, it’s imperative parents become creative and improvise new approaches toward family fitness activities.
So as we’re affixing our thinking caps let’s reveal some (unconventional) paraphernalia we can utilize to improve our families’ health and appearance. There’s no need to fret if you don’t own any fancy equipment. I did mention we’d improvise, so let’s make use of typical household items. Here are some examples:
Get on the stick: Not the Wicked Witch’s stick from the Wizard of Oz, but rather a broomstick. This typical household item makes an awesome fitness tool. Use it to stretch the body and to mimic any barbell exercise by pretending it weighs 100 lbs, or more. The ‘pretending’ part is a unique method for training the brain that sends powerful nerve impulses to the contracting muscles without unnecessary overloads. Curl, press, pull, lunge walk and squat with the broomstick to realize terrific muscle-toning benefits.
Bottoms’ up: Instead of discarding those empty gallon cartons of milk turn them into dumbbells just like the fancy ones you use in a health club but these are shaped a bit more oddly. With six empty cartons you can make three pairs of dumbbells. The first pair is filled with water, dirt or sand to approximately three inches from the bottom. The second pair is filled halfway while the third pair is your heaviest set yet as they’ll be filled to the max. Like the broomstick, you can mimic any (dumbbell) exercise except this time there’s no pretending about the resistance because these weights are real!
Cushy Tushy: Grab a sofa cushion and squeeze it repetitiously. Squeeze it with your hands in front of your upper body to exercise your arm, chest and shoulder muscles, or place the cushion between your legs while seated to exercise your thighs, groin, hamstrings and buttocks. A repetitive squeeze-and-hold technique will deliver great results.
Squeeze Ball: Grab a ball; i.e., tennis or racquetball ball, or any shaped nerf ball, and squeeze it repetitiously to work the muscles of your fingers, hands, wrists and forearms. By strengthening these body parts you’ll have a much greater chance at succeeding with gripping events, like swinging a tennis racquetball, baseball bat or golf club. As a bonus, household chores like vacuuming, raking, window washing and opening stubborn cans of pickles, become easier too.
Family Planner: Keep a journal that your family frequents and makes regular contributions into. The mission is to record physical activity and eating habits for each day then sum things up at the end of each week. You can even insert newspaper or magazine clippings on nutrition and fitness, and also post success stories for inspiration. Periodically, have a family member read from this journal to reminisce and discuss forthcoming plans while motivating each other to continue to persevere toward achieving all your goals.
Team Captain: Once your family team is established select a new captain each week. The primary role of the captain is to take on the responsibility of holding the teammates accountable for their commitments. Responsibility strengthens character while teaching is one of the best ways to learn. As the teams’ captain, that role also requires that person (adult or child) to serve as the team’s motivator, mentor, drill sergeant and disciplinarian, characteristics that will improve dignity and dependability.
Max Out Day: Select one day out of the week that’s specifically designated for everybody in the family to push themselves harder than before. It could be something new, like a long hike in some unexplored location, or a familiar activity that’s applied with extra vigor, or completed in a faster time. The objective is to establish a healthy ‘competitive’ atmosphere between family teammates and to encourage each member to ‘out-do’ (or ‘best’) themselves as the conditioning process endures.
When approached creatively and enthusiastically, achieving and sustaining a healthy and in-shape condition is an enjoyable and rewarding process for parents and their children. The excuses of no equipment, no time, and no money are ‘no’ longer justifiable. Improvise your way to greater health and take your family along for the ride of their lives.
Most of all, enjoy the process and have fun!
John Abdo is an Olympic Strength & Conditioning Coach, Award-Winning inventor of fitness equipment like The AB-DOer® and Inductee into the National Health & Fitness Hall of Fame. John is also the co-developer of the popular male-performance formula Androzene®. For more information please email John at: firstname.lastname@example.org.