How to stay active with kids at home!

One of the most common barriers to exercise for women is not being able to get time away from children. This has never been more true than now.

During the lockdown of COVID-19. How on earth can you keep exercising with 2 and 3 year olds running round your ankles, your other half trying to work from the kitchen table, or coping as a single Mum without any of the relief of nurseries or relatives having the kids for an afternoon?

Kids love to move!

Whilst it’s not ideal, the great thing about being with kids is they do love to move! You will be surprised at the types of exercise you can do where young kids especially will happily watch or join in: dancing, aerobics, hula-hoop, piggy backs, kids yoga on YouTube.

The traditional approach might see you turning to Joe Wicks (I’ve done far more of his sessions than my 7 year-old!), or (quite understandably) putting them in front of the TV whilst you sneak in a Zoom Yoga class. There are lots of ways to be energetic in your home, with a bit of imagination, planning and open-mindedness about what ‘counts’ as ‘exercise’.

Get outside

Make the most of your outdoor daily exercise time. Maybe you can get some jogging done as the kids go up and down on their scooters. Or you can have ‘races’ with them to the end of the street and back. And let’s not forget skipping. Competitions to see who can get the most jumps without stopping really appeals to a child’s sense of competition and challenge. And it’s much harder than I remember it too!

Blend it into your routine

If that’s not enough. there are also ways to make housework into a fitness routine. Rather than carry out your chores as simple jobs to be done, look where you can inject more movement. Speed walk around the house. Race the kids to see who can put the clothes away the fastest. Go up and down the stairs more times than you really need to, and wiggle your hips to the music when washing up.

Recognise what you’ve acheived

At the end of the day what you do doesn’t really matter, along as you are staying safe and well. that is your most important job. Recognise that you have made that extra effort to take care of yourself and notice how it makes you feel. Then make plans to repeat it the following day, and see if you can do a little more.

I tried online P.E. with Joe Wicks today, and here’s what I found out.

As the UK schools closed, and the nation were told to stay at home, Joe Wicks (aka the Body Coach) self-appointed himself as the nations P.E. teacher. As he explains in his first video, Joe originally wanted to be a P.E. teacher in his younger days, but life took him down a different route. If you have come across him before it is most likely through one of his ‘Lean in 15’ recipe books, or his You Tube channel packed with HIIT workouts to do at home. I’ve tried his stuff before, but I prefer outdoor exercise to HIIT routines, so didn’t stick to it for long.

It’s not just for kids

So this morning, in an attempt to encourage my 7 year old to exercise I decided to do one of Joe’s P.E. workouts myself, if for no other reason to set a good example, but also because I was really feeling the need to get some more exercise myself. By the end I felt great. My mission to encourage my son to join in had failed, but I had got my heart rate up and felt energised and much more positive about the day.

It’s very simple

I was initially put off by the lack of music, but soon realised that Joe’s constant chattering was enough of a background soundtrack. His encouragement, light heartedness and self-depreciation make you feel like it’s ok if you can’t always keep up, and that you can get some exercise without taking it too seriously. The sequence of exercise, break, exercise, break means you’re never far away from the next break, which makes it easier to keep going. Joe also provided plenty of options of harder and easier versions so if, like me, you’re not as nimble as a 7 year old. There was normally an easier version you could keep going with.

This is what P.E. should be like

I know from my own coaching practice that many women have developed an aversion to exercise due to experiences at school. To me this is a tragedy, and I’m pretty sure Joe would agree. He has been working with schools in recent years to try and promote physical activity to children in a way that is fun and engaging. He also takes the time to explain what’s going on with the body and the feel-good benefits it creates. I would have loved him to be my P.E. teacher – and why not. Maybe this is an opportunity to try again. Yes, these workouts are aimed at children, but the level is suitable for adults, you can work at your own level, and even Joe got himself out of breath!

Here is an opportunity

So, to anyone who falls into the category of hating school P.E, I would say – give it a go with Joe! Especially if you have time on your hands, and you’re avoiding going out of the house. This is a great way to start your day and create a new experience of being active.

And if you’re used to being active but have found your usual workout venues are closed, these workouts will be great for you too. You can work at the more intense level, get as worn out as Joe, and feel refreshed and ready for the day.

How to get involved

Joe’s P.E. workouts are streamed from his YouTube channel every weekday at 9am. You can watch the life streaming or play one of the previous recordings. I’m lucky enough to be able to play YouTube directly on my TV, but if this isn’t an option for you a tablet or laptop would also work well – and would even give you the option of taking it into the garden! If you’re new to this type of technology, persevere and ask friends for help if needed, it will be worth it.

Stay Safe, Stay Well.

Diane x

www.fitbee.co.uk

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s January… and I’m running in the park

How is it that I came to be running in the park late one January evening? With temperatures hitting sub zero and badly lit streets, at first it seems quite unfeasible, except I’m not running outside, I’m running indoors, in my own living room!

Yes, probably for the first time since the 90s aerobics class I went to as a teenager with my Mum, I’m actually jogging on the spot. And I’m enjoying it too!

It started at the in-laws house, where after a delicious Sunday Roast, someone decided it was time to get the X Box Kinnect out and have a go at some sports. For the uninitiated, this is essentially a computer game where a camera watches the position of your arms and legs, as you flail about trying to mimic some sporting activity, and thereby a computer version of you (your avitar), actually does the sport on the screen.

First up was bowling – fairly gentle – where astoundingly I turned out to be quite good and won! Next was a football shoot out game. This time my talent seemed to be more enthusiasm than skill, but I was still able to win the day. Finally we had a go at javelin throwing. It became rapidly apparent that co-ordinating legs, arms and timing was a bit too much multi-tasking for me. My final throw was ruled out as a ‘foul throw’. I was just pleased I’d not hit the crowd.

Apart from being lots of fun, these types of indoor activities can also genuinely get your heart rate going, and are a great family entertainment.

I was so enthusiastic that when we got home that evening, we decided it was time for the annual outing of our Wii Fit! (A rival and predecessor of the X Box Kinnect which has been gathering dust in our home for many years).

We loaded it up and were gleefully informed that we had been missed since the 350 days since the last time we used it! Obviously January is a popular month for indoor computer fitness! At first the intention was to encourage my son to have a go. He watched us for a while and then decided he would attempt some Yoga poses. Then it was his bedtime, and I was left on my own. ‘I’ll just have one more go’ I thought.

20 minutes later I was jogging through a park, up and down hills, and suddenly realised I was working up a sweat! It was cold and dark outside, but here I was jogging in the sunshine past animated green grass and  blue waterfalls. In the end, through a variety of exercises (“catching fish dressed as a penguin” is my favorite) I did 30 minutes exercise on the Wii Fit, and now of course I have plans it will be out every day and there won’t be an excuse to not exercise ever again!

Well, that might be stretching it, but I did manage to get a lot of fun activity into a day where I might have otherwise just sat around after Sunday lunch, driven home, and then sat around all evening. Maybe indoor computer games aren’t the answer to all our exercise needs, but they certainly add some variety and a flexibility. Maybe you have one gaining dust in your cupboard? Why not get it out and have a go? You might enjoy it. You could even be the next “catching fish dressed as a penguin” champion. Maybe they’ll include it in the Olympics soon!