Play like a kid.
Play like a kid. (illustration: Patrick Leger)

The Best Workouts Are Child’s Play

Being fit is about constant movement, and children are in constant motion during playtime at the jungle gym. Why not join their lead?

Play like a kid.
Will Cockrell

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Imagine a universe where exercise has nothing to do with heart-rate monitors or intervals. A place where fun trumps everything else. Such a world exists—it’s called childhood. “Being fit is about constant movement,” says conditioning coach Christa Pryor, whose clients have included the NBA’s Andrew Wiggins and tennis star Victoria Azarenka. “Traditional workouts are just one vehicle for expressing movement.” Children, of course, are in constant motion during playtime at the jungle gym. Why not follow their lead? Here, Pryor outlines a circuit that hits major muscle groups while only mildly confusing the kids you’ll be sharing the space with. No need to count reps—just keep moving.

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Monkey Bars Hanging Crunch

  1. Hang upside down with your lower legs up through the parallel bars, hooking your feet under the side rails or another bar for security. 
  2. Lay your arms across your chest, raise your upper body in a crunch, then lower in a controlled motion.

Split Jumps

  1. Find a pair of pedestals two feet high and two feet apart. Stand in front of them with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Jump up and plant each foot on a pedestal, landing on your heels first. 
  3. Immediately jump back to the starting position.

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  1. Grab two rings and raise yourself into a traditional pull-up position, with shoulders at ring level. Keep your neck extended—no ears to shoulders. 
  2. Hold the position for one full breath. 
  3. Lower your body down as slowly as possible, aiming for at least a five-second count. 

Slide Row

  1. Hang by your arms underneath a slide or other structure, so your body is just off the ground with your arms fully extended.
  2. Walk your feet forward so that your legs are long, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips, so you’re in an inverted plank position.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades down and back as you draw your torso over to the slide.  
  4. Slowly lengthen your arms to the starting position. 

Swing Knee-Tuck Push-Up

  1. Place the balls of both feet on a swing and walk your hands along the ground until your body is in an extended plank, with arms a bit wider than shoulders and elbows slightly bent.
  2. Do a push-up.  
  3. Pull your knees toward your chest, then extend your legs back out into a plank. 
From Outside Magazine, October 2016
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Lead illustration: Patrick Leger