Tag Archives: Play

Fun toys to get you outside this summer

Summer is officially here. It’s time for pedicures, beefing-up on barbecue skills, and generally doing anything that calls us out into the fresh air and sun. It is the best time to take fitness outdoors too, and I don’t mean lugging the treadmill out of the backroom to the porch. In case you forgot, there’s no age limit on playing outside.  Bikes, roller skates, skateboards, and jump ropes are great go-to summer toys, but here are a few other fun outdoor ideas you might have forgotten:

Trampolines

My parents claimed this was the best investment they ever bought our family. We used it regularly, every summer, for 15 years, with lots of giggling, lots of exercise, and luckily, no broken bones.

Kites

Kites are beautiful, artistic, and fun to run around with in the hopes of setting aloft. Make it a DIY party and gather some friends, craft your own, and have a kite-flying contest. Here’s a cool do-it-yourself kite from Popular Mechanics.

Water Guns – or better yet, Water Balloons!

Personal politics about warfare and guns aside, this is a great way to cool down and laugh when it’s hot. Play capture the flag with teams of friends. Or have a little one-on-one couples therapy. Loser makes dinner.

Unicycle

Not only a mode of transportation, it’s a great way to work on balance skills and impress friends. When starting out, a good spot goes a long way. Be patient and you’ll soon be speed cycling with the best single wheelers out there.

Pedalo

A wooden German toy that’s been around for decades, it’s a slightly safer variation on the unicycle. The pedalo builds balance and body awareness. Preparing you to be a natural on the…

Tight rope

Go to the local hardware store and get a strong, thick rope. Tether it, securely to 2 points, starting at just a few inches to a foot off of the ground.  Have tight rope walking competitions. See who can balance the longest, walk forward and backward, maybe even jump up and down. If you’re an adult at a barbecue with friends, watch out for “beer confidence”. No sprained ankles, please.

Retro Toys – Pogo Sticks, hula hoops, and Slip n’ Slide?

These were all popular for good reasons…except maybe slip n slide, with personal memories of grass stains and elbows burns. A lot of the flash back toys are silly mayhem for adults and kids alike. As a parent, you might be able to show off your impressive muscle memory skills to the young ones.

What are your favorite outdoor toys? Send us your ideas!

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Juggling for fitness

Yup. It counts. And it’s much more fun than juggling your to do list. Contact juggling, in particular requires physical demand and overall muscle control. What is contact juggling you ask? Think David Bowie in the Labyrinth.

Or watch this guy.

Get some exercise. Have fun. And be the life of every party. It’s a triple win!

If you live in Saint Louis, contact juggler extrordinaire Peter Schroeder is offering an 8 week contact juggling workshop beginning in January on Saturdays from 12:00 – 1:30pm. Registration is required at Bumbershoot Aerial Arts.

(Psst. If you were looking for a unique holiday gift, this could be it!)

I hate to exercise. Now what…

Look. You get it…you are supposed to do something more than move between desk and couch. But “exercise” isn’t fun…at least in your opinion.  You can continue sporadically riding the treadmill to nowhere, but maybe the time has come to try another approach. It’s actually possible to sneak fitness in like vegetables into a kid’s dinner…just hide it really well.

Here are your general options:

#1. Go standard: Do the gym

Ho-hum. Exercise and health, blah blah blah. Who hasn’t tried this? We sign up for a gym membership in a moment of inspiration, usually in January and then it languishes into one extra payment on the ol’ checking account. Some people thrive on routine. If you can psyche yourself into being accountable at the gym 3 -4 days a week, for 2 or 3 weeks, then this might be the option for you. Gyms offer convenience for fitness and a great fall back when all else fails, but little else that can often be exciting.

#2. Go Group: Join the team…or start your own.

Maybe you need a team effort to get moving. Lots of local sporting leagues exist: softball, basketball, bowling, kickball, dodgeball, you name it. Join in. Finding a buddy to join could make the move easier. No groups you like? Start your own action adventure team.

#3. Go to school: Please grade my fitness

Maybe teams aren’t you thing, but personal exploration and trying new things are. Sign up for a class.  Try something totally new. All kinds of sports, movement arts and activities are offered through local colleges. Community, state and/or private universities usually have offerings for the public. Since collegiate classes go in semesters, it is a doable committment for those of us who get bored. This option keeps your brain supple too.

#4. Go Big:  Spend a lot and do as little as possible

Invest in the most expensive home gym out there that touts the fastest way to perfect fitness…4 minutes a day. Afterall, if you pay $14,615.00, it must really work. Although, who we kidding, eventually it will languish in the basement and become the worlds most expensive laundry drying rack…ever.

#5. Go Bizarre: Extracurricular odyssey

If you are like me, you need to be entertained. A stationary bike sounds worse than the dentist. Maybe it’s time to give up the Dungeons and Dragons game in the back room of the comic book shop and take up jousting outdoors instead. There are an endless array of activities that classify as fitness. Gym is not required and creativity is by all means allowed. Possibilities are endless!

Find something that inspires you. Even if it’s a dvd or book, a self created 10 minute workout at home, reading my blog for fabulous ideas…whatever. Try to do a little more. I’m still working on the ultimate ab pulverizing couch and desk workout.  I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Food for thought

We could talk specific foods ingested, numbers of times a day, eat this-not that, caloric intake, etc.  Sure. Dissecting nutrition makes a difference. Knowledge is power, but over-think it, and you might end up neurotic about food. The Puritanical roots of our all or nothing culture places food into good and bad categories, fostering patterns of emotional eating, binging, guilt complexes, eating disorders, etc.  It’s no way to live and eventually we all crash and burn.

Truth is lots of things lend to well-being. It’s not just calorie counting on a plate and minutes counted at the gym. We need activity (unplug more often), natural nutrition (processed foods sparingly), stress regulation, and an understanding of societal ideals on daily life.

BUT…

If you are looking for one big universal answer on how to best handle food and nutrition, I have it. Going back thousands of years, when it comes to food, it’s the real secret to a healthy, fitter you, in mind and body:

Relax. Take pleasure in your food.

Love food and all the ceremony and community that goes with it. Adore wine, meat, bread, chocolate, avocados, whatever. It’s fine. Heck, it’s healthy!  Relax already about calories. And please! Stop forcing down quick bars with everything you need…you don’t really need it. Invest time into real food as much as possible. Use mealtime to celebrate seasonal delights. The appreciation comes from the same place, whether it be the perfect granny smith in October or the perfect bite of a dark chocolate. Taking pleasure in food creates a magical experience where flavor rules over quantity. The need for more diminishes.

This is not to say it is necessarily an easy switch. It’s a lifestyle change. Mealtime, food, and even community must be given more space in our daily routines. To encourage such dietary shifts, there’s a growing movement building awareness around food called mindful eating. I reserve a certain amount of reticence with regards to the introduction of new diets and food rules.  With the best of intent, such guidelines can paradoxically create more anxiousness over food and, ultimately, failure. It’s a strange conundrum, but just letting go and trusting our own instincts often makes the biggest difference. If you do require more reading on this topic,  here is an essay on tuning into your own eating instincts. Humans are social creatures, where community and food have played a role throughout time. The learning curve should be small.


The most used cultural food case study, looks at the French.  A Guardian article from 1994 quotes stats from the French government’s Committee for Health Education (CFES) which found that eating is still very closely linked to a national heritage of consuming good food for pleasure. In France, (in 1994) 76 per cent ate meals prepared at home, with 75 per cent eating at the family table.  The French typically spend two hours over lunch and they don’t eat in front of the television. The French eat slowly, enjoying both the food and the company.

In fact, most Countries have some cultural heritage in and social connection to their diet. Notable places include Japan, China, Greece, and Italy.

Food is not ingested for energy alone, but a source of personal and national pride, with time and care taken to prepare meals.  Rich or poor, this pride is for everyone. Due to seasonal ingredients limited quantities and time available the focus of meals is on little plates with big flavor, encouraging one to savor every bite.

Now here’s your food for thought:

Why not create your own personal culture and traditions around food. Be creative and enjoy all the pleasures it offers year round. Food should be fun. Your waist might respond in kind, so go ahead and feel free to play with your food.

Cheers


Most Workout in the Least Amount of Time? – Jump Around

This is Buddy Lee, Crazy pants owner and founder of the Jump Rope institute

Guess House of Pain had it right. (That’s right. I went there.)

Jump up and down for 20 minutes in the morning and you are set for the day. It can: up your metabolism, get your heart pumping, your lungs in shape, your brain working better, and it doesn’t take hours.

According to research The Jump Rope Institute a minimum of five minutes a day can improve physical fitness and when you build to ten minutes of nonstop jumping at 120 RPMs it can provide the same benefits as the following:

  • 30 minutes of jogging
  • 2 sets of tennis singles
  • 30 minutes of racquet and handball playing
  • 720 yards of swimming
  • 18 holes of golf

Pretty impressive huh?

According to various sources, jumping rope is pretty darn safe, if not extremely challenging. (After trying to jump for 2 minutes straight I began to wonder how kids can do this for hours) It’s less impact on the knees than running…since both knees can land at the same time. You can also control the amount of impact by jumping low, lifting with the core, and staying forward on the balls of the feet.

But what if jumping rope is simply not an option for you? No way. No how.

It’s true. There is no perfect exercise for everyone. Jump rope prep exercises can get your body moving and accustomed to the bouncing movement. Put on your favorite music and try bouncing on a mini trampoline (a rebounder) or even bouncing around and playing with your balance on a large stability ball.

Maybe not like this...

And definitely not like this...

While these options are not nearly as intense they are still great cardio options that can be fun, and really that is what is most important.

This is more like it. He's "king of the world"...

Celebrating Spring, Movement, and Fashion

Spring fever is in the air in Vanessa Bruno’s 2010 Spring Collection video.  It’s a frolicking romantic piece, swelling with lightness that’s oh so French.

Featuring Jane Birkin’s daughter, Lou, whose character in the video celebrates not just the movement of the gorgeous clothes she wears, but the beauty of movement in general, as Spring awakens with new life. It makes me want to stomp in chalk and roll down hills in big dresses.

Here’s to Spring, the French, dreamy fashion, and the beauty of movement!

100 Years of Galloping Fitness Machines

It’s in the expressions worn by the people in Zander’s advertisements that the real distinction between workouts of 1908 and workouts of 2008 can be found. Take the horse rider. She sits casually astride the machine, one arm out holding the “reins” on her anthropomorphized device. Her body leans slightly back. Her eyes gaze up at the camera, almost ecstatic, head thrown to the right a bit, a slight smirk on her face. She wears hose and heels, and the strap of her dress has fallen off the shoulder.

– “The Origins of Cybex Space” by Carolyn de la Pena for Cabinet Magazine

Wait. Has it really changed that much? At least our advertising has not.

Let’s compare.

One hundred years later we have similar smiling and provocative ads for the igallop and we wonder, does history not repeat itself? Or do we not at least learn from our mistakes?

Personally, I find the local Singapore ad below to be much catchier. Sticks in your head much more effectively, annoyingly so.

Now whoa there fella. Before wrangling yourself some sort of mechanical riding apparati, I offer you this observation from my pilates years; The two bodies I’ve come across with the most injuries, tension and pain are:

1. Dental Hygenists

2. Horseback Riders

The igallop isn’t exactly like a horse, of course. Just thought you might want to know before jumping on the bandwagon… or any other type of mechanical mountable fun.