It’s hard to fit in a workout when you have kids. So here’s a hack: As the little ones get older, you can start roping them into your training sessions by disguising the workouts as games. And it doesn’t have to be all cardio sprints and star jumps, either. Practising body-weight moves is an effective way to build functional strength and sculpt sexy, lean muscle tone without bulking. And your kids will have fun trying them out, too. In fact, they’ll probably be better at these body-weight moves than you are, but remember, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose and all that, right?
Body-Weight Moves You Can Do Anywhere
The great thing about body-weight training (or calisthenics as it’s technically called) is that you can do it pretty much anywhere with minimal equipment. That’s because you’re using your own body weight as the load and gravity to create resistance. These moves, from Tim and Jacko of the training community School of Calisthenics, are ideal for beginners looking to get into body-weight training. And all they require are a floor with a cushioned surface (like an exercise mat, carpet or grass), a wall and something to hang from. We’ve used gymnastic rings, but a straight bar at your local park will also work just fine. There’s a lot of balance and stabilising required in body-weight moves, so your core is going to work overtime (yay, abs!) and all the pulling and pushing you do with your upper body will sculpt your back, arms and shoulders. Sound good? Let’s give it a go!
We met up with Tim and Jacko from School of Calisthenics at Sandown Sweat in Cape Town during their recent trip to South Africa. They teamed up with trainer and Sandown Sweat owner Hayley Ryan to show us how to master these moves…
1 Frog Stand
This foundational move helps you build the upper-body strength and balance that you’ll need for more advanced body-weight moves like freestanding handstands. The kids will enjoy the challenge of trying to balance upside down.
2 Wall Walk
The chances of your kids beating you at this body-weight move are pretty high. As adults, we have a fear of going upside down, but for kids, there’s nothing more fun. Keep your core braced and only go as far as you feel comfortable, but aim to walk a bit closer to the wall every time. Let your mini-me show you how it’s done!
3 Dead Bug
This body-weight move from Pilates works different core muscles simultaneously, strengthening your stabilisers, lowering your injury risk and improving your coordination. Be sure to keep your lower back glued to the floor at all times.
4 Hollow-Body Hold
Kind of the upside-down cousin of a plank, this isometric body-weight move (one where you’re holding a single position; not moving) targets your whole core from multiple directions. It’s brilliant for building core strength, as well as body position patterning to protect your lower back in other exercises. The goal is to create a bowl shape with your body. Again, keep your lower back glued to the ground at all times. See how long you and your kids can hold it for. If you break form, you’re out.
READ MORE: 13 Bodyweight Moves You Can Do Anywhere
5 Hollow-Body Rock
This is a classic example of how a body-weight move can turn into a fun game. Once you can do the hold for 10 seconds without breaking form, the goal is to rock back and forth like a rocking horse, while in that hollow-hold position. Get your little one to sing Rockabye Baby as you rock back and forth and see how many time she can get through the song before your form goes.
6 Skin The Cat
Your kids will probably take to this one naturally, but you might need a few practice rounds. Active playing, like on monkey bars and jungle gyms, gives kids better core and grip strength than many adults. They’re also more open to trying new and adventurous things, like this classic foundational body-weight move. It’s a good idea to warm-up the old shoulders before attempting this one (check out this warm-up you can do with a broom). Then, see who can do the most reps. Spoiler alert: It’s going to be the kid!