As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I’ve managed to acquire a rather impressive collection of portable exercise equipment. Assorted dumbbells, various yoga blocks and straps, skipping ropes, stability balls, Bosu, ankle weights, elastic tubing and (my personal favorite), a TRX.
Usually these objects reside in the trunk of my car, waiting to be ferried to the home of a client. Or the aerobics studio, on days when I know I’m going to need extra equipment. Or the backyard, when I’m desperate for a workout and can’t get to the gym.
Recently, however, I emptied my overly stuffed trunk (Cub Scout camp requires an awful lot of gear). Every last piece of exercise equipment was carried into the house. Before I could lock the car, let alone decide where to store things, my children pounced.
“What’s this for?”
“Look what happens when I wrap this rubbery thing around my waist”
“Ooh, Mommy, it’s a baby trampoline”
“Watch me, watch me, watch me!”
“Those are huge balls” (7-year old boys are obsessed with balls)
I started to tell them to leave ‘mommy’s work tools’ alone, that they were expensive and could be broken, that they were for grownups only, but stopped when I saw how much fun they were having. (More fun, I might add, than any of my clients or class participants has ever demonstrated while using them…)
Jumping on the Bosu. Rolling over the ball. Swinging the skipping rope around. Pulling on the ends of the elastic tubing. Balancing on the yoga block. Balancing on the yoga block on the Bosu. Balancing on the yoga block on the stability ball on the Bosu(don’t try this one at home). Creating their own circuit of objects over which to navigate across the ‘red hot lava’ of the floor.
Before long they were giddy and out of breath. Giggling with the enjoyment of exertion. Exhilarated with the feeling of fatigued muscles. Collapsing on the floor for a moment before doing it all over again. (Note,I did not have my camera handy when the above events took place and had to persuade my son to repeat the episode so ‘Mommy can take some pictures’. My daughter, older and wiser, refused to feign spontaneity; ‘I’m not faking it’ were, I believe, the words she used.)
And then I remembered, a long time ago, when they were very small, the naked, post-bath games of Bosu-follow-the-leader they played every evening before bed. The pure joy they experienced flinging themselves off the bouncy surface and on to the bed. Jumping, spinning, kicking and falling down exhausted, ready for PJ’s and a bedtime story.
I can’t remember why we ended these evening games. Perhaps I felt that they’d gotten too old. Maybe someone fell and bumped their head. Probably they got bored with it.
But I’m resurrecting the game. Anything that motivates them to unplug and get moving is fine by me.
I’ve put the dangerous things away (dumbbells, TRX, yoga straps; anything that could be used as a weapon), but left the others in an easy-to-access cupboard in the playroom. For a rainy day. When they’re bored. For when they just need to move.
Just don’t call it exercise or a workout. Those are for grownups who’ve forgotten the most basic reason to challenge their bodies through movement; because it just feels good.
You can find Tamara’s blog at Fit Knit Chick.