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Squat. Play. Lunge. (A fit mom's guide to family workouts)

Parents, I am going to improve your life with this one simple blog post...Want to know a great way to bond with your family, stay fit, AND get in touch with your inner child? Family workouts have you covered. Why not spend more time playing with your litttles AND breaking a sweat at the same time?

When my client Jessica Murphy, a fit mom of 2 who works in real estate, recently requested a family session I realized that I am not the only person in the world who wants to work out with their kids! I just had to spread the word! Jessica says she wanted to "include my kids in my passion for movement and have a new way to play with them in the evening (full disclosure - I mean to tire them out). Kids move and run and climb naturally. I wanted to stop saying "don't climb that" and "stop throwing pillows" for 45 minutes, and instead focus on things we CAN do with all that awesome kid energy."

So, I tried a session with her family as an experiment. I created a mix -- games I play with my own kids at home, a few toddler yoga exercises, and some good old fashion make believe. It was so much fun AND everyone was actually exercising. What was the best part of the experience in Jessica's opinion? "The joy, the silliness, and having something that all 4 of us (ages 40, 42, 4 and 17 months) can do together and enjoy."

Do you need more convincing? Here are some more reasons to exercise together, along with activities you can do in your own living room or front yard.

You will be bonding.

Interacting with each other in this way can feel more rewarding than sitting down for a movie or a chaotic attempt at family dinner. Playing some physically challenging games will force you to communicate, make physical contact, and work together towards a common goal. Plus, it's just fun to play!

You will be setting a good example.

The kids are watching, and the values we set for them early in life will stay with them. Exercise is a great way to teach them self-love and respect, as well as the importance of keeping their body strong and healthy. You can add many healthy years to your child's life by nurturing their love of exercise. You will be adding years to your life as well.

You will FINALLY get a chance to workout.

If you are the "I can't find the time to travel to the gym, change my clothes, workout, cool off, and drive back home because there are just not enough hours in the day" type of person, THIS is for you. If parenting is all-consuming, then make fitness a part of that world. You obviously want to spend those few precious hours with your kids in the evening, so why not spend the time doing something that will be fun (and healthy) for all involved.

You will work harder than you think!

Have you ever noticed how children play pretend? They dive in with total commitment and lot's of energy. Running from a bad guy? That means full speed ahead! Hopping like a bunny? That means get air born. No wonder they always get sweaty and want to take off their coats at the playground. No wonder they sleep better when they have played hard. They are exercising! If you approach these workouts with the same level of commitment as your child, you can expect to be sweaty by then end of it, BUT it will not feel tortuous like, say, a 30 minute run on the treadmill. Why? Because you are playing!

Want to try? Here are a few games you can try with your kiddos.

Sargent Simon Says:

It’s just like any normal game of "Simon Says" but Simon is more of a Drill Sargent! Here are some commands you can throw into the mix.

Jog in place

Do jumping jacks

Jump up and down

Do pushups

Hold a plank

Hop on one foot

March in place

Ice Skate (speed skaters)

Sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up....:)

Freeze Dance:

There's nothing like a good old fashion game of freeze dance. Dance like crazy until the music stops. Freeze like a statue. Unfreeze when the music starts again. Grownups, you will be in the comfort of your living room, so dance like no one is watching and get your heart rate up!

Obstacle Coarse:

Create an obstacle course with objects in your home. It’s basically circuit training! Here's an example:

Run around the living room 3 times

Crab walk down the hallway

Jump over a pillow

Do 5 push-ups

Balance one one foot with a stuffed animal on your head

Bunny hop back to the start


Animal Movements:

Take a trip to a jungle, desert, beach, forest, or zoo. Move like different animals you see in the given location. You can eat and sleep like them. You can even have animal races!


Gallop like a horse

Crab walk

Bear crawl

Take big elephant lunges

Cobra pose like a snake

Squat and hop like a frog

Climb a tree like a monkey

Kick your legs as you walk like a Giraffe

Swim on your belly like a fish

Push me over:

This one is kind of hilarious. The grownups stand up strong and tall while the kids try to knock them down. Stand on one foot to make it more of a challenge!

4 walls:

Using the 4 "walls" of a large room (with minimal furniture) or a yard. Label each wall with a number 1 through 4. One person is it. That person calls out a number 1-4 and everyone runs to touch that wall. Keep calling our numbers, and mix it up as much as you can. Talk fast and you will have everyone running like crazy in all directions.

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