Time is one of the top barriers to starting or sticking with a fitness program.  Now that summer has kicked in it makes it even tougher to decide between working out or getting out!  The good news is that you can multi-task and combine a total body workout with a trip to the park. 

It may not be obvious, but if you take a creative look at a regular kids playground you can see some amazing fitness equipment that is functional, in the fresh air and, best of all, free!  With or without kids, you end up setting a great example for kids and you might even inspire other adults to follow your lead!

Here are just a few ideas for exercise options.  Throughout the balance of the summer, we'll be posting a variety of workouts each week on http://www.libbynorris.comour workout and activity tips page

1.    Benches and Bar Circuits

Body weight training is one of the most popular ways to workout whether it's in the gym, in a class or with a trainer.   It's "functional training" as it duplicates the demands of everyday life with lifting and pushing type movements.  It's also versatile as you can increase or decrease the challenge by changing the bar height or the length of the lever. 

A push-up, for example can be modified for a full range of resistance.

  • light weight - start with your hands on the back of a park bench
  • moderate weight - start with your hands on the seat of a park bench
  • more weight - start with your hands on the ground
  • increased weight - put your feet on the bench and your hands on the ground

Additional body weight exercises at the playground:

  • lower body - squats, lunges, curtsy lunges, calf raise, glute raises
  • upper body - push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips, shoulder presses
  • core - planks, tucks, curl ups

Putting a circuit together

ANY activity you do at the park will add up and be beneficial for your muscles and overall health.  Here are some quick tips, though, to put a circuit together that will help you to optimize your time and get a full body workout.

  • warm up- do some light to moderate cardio for about 3-5 minutes; this could be walking, step ups or a light jog.
  • exercises selection- choose 3-6 exercises keeping them simple so that you feel comfortable and safe; it makes it easy if you start with a lower body one (like squats), then do an upper body (like push-ups) and then one core (like seated tucks)
  • sets and reps- keep it simple and choose a number for either time or sets such as 10 of each or 20 seconds of each; start with a small number and gradually increase as you get stronger
  • time- you can customize your circuit ranging from 5-60 minutes; see our workouts and activity tips pagefor a formula outline that fits your time and fitness needs
  • stretch- even though you're at the park playing, take a few minutes to stretch all the muscles you worked holding those stretches for 20-30 seconds each

2.    Monkey Bar Barre Workouts

Barre workouts are one of the latest trends in fitness and can cost you $10-$20 a class!  Any bar or bench can serve as your personal studio to do sculpting exercises including leg pulses,Relevé plie,pliepulses and Arabesque lifts. 

3.    Swing Suspension Exercises

It's not exactly like a TRX trainer, but you can use a regular kids swing for a variety of suspension style exercises.  Like a TRX, it can provide support for positioning with exercises and being able to use gravity to change the challenge.  For example:

  • Squats- by holding the swing about chest height in a tall, upright position, you can then squat down/up keeping the knees directly above your ankles.  This reduces sheering forces on the knee and allows you to potentially do a greater range of motion.
  • Pull-ups -start in the same position but then walk the feet forward 1-3 steps leaning back holding the swing at either side of the seat.  Straighten arms and keep the body in a long plank position (avoid letting your hips drop).  Bending at the elbows, pull up and lower back in a rowing motion.  The further you lean back to start, the more of your body weight you have to lift, so the tougher it is.
  • Plank/core exercises- for a variety of core exercises, you can place your feet up on the swing and your hands on the ground.  Yes, it's a bit dirty, but the benefits far outweigh a bit of sand on your hands!  From here you can simply hold, add tucks, push-ups or circular movements.

Those are just a few of the exercises you can do.  Plus you have the added challenge of stability since your base is likely sand or wood chips.

We will have workout formulas and circuits posted for all times and fitness levels - from a 5-minute moderate muscle moves to full tabata and suspension training circuits.

If you have a specific question, visit http://www.libbynorris.com/- we'd love to hear from you.  We also have a quick survey to find out your biggest challenges to help plan workouts and support for our new challenge starting September/October 2015.