I just read an article written by a sports mom detailing her stream of consciousness thoughts during her child’s practices and games. Sitting in a lawn chair along the sidelines, her mind is filled with a relentless stream of negative self-talk from wondering if she will have the strength or energy to rise from her chair to multiple references to cankles.
As a fitness trainer and coach, I see many parents standing or sitting near the fields and courts during practices. This is hours and hours of time that could be put to better use, especially if parents take that time for their own physical fitness. Even on a game or tournament day, players usually have to be at the venue an hour or more before the first game.
Moms and dads, this is your hour to workout! Not only will you show your kids that you value yourself, you will also relieve stress and become stronger and more fit in the process. The bonus is you wont be able to have the post practice car ride critique with your child because you wont know anything they messed up! I call this a win-win.
Here are some ideas of how you can get fit while your child is practicing:
- Walk or run the perimeter of the park or complex.
- Find a private area of the venue and do a series of body weight exercises such as squats, lunges (front, side, back, curtsy), push-ups, planks (including side, rainbow, or elevators), squat jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, and inchworm.
- Using the same private area, do a series of yoga stretches.
- Find a playground and challenge yourself to do the monkey bars bending your legs as needed to keep all weight off the ground, try pull ups using any bars available, use any stairs within the playground to do step ups, step up to balance, and calf raises, and if there is sand, do standing long jumps, hops, plank walks, and lateral lunges.
- Find bleachers and do sets of stairs. Power up and walk down.
- Parkour Parent. Walk or jog through the park looking for obstacles to go over and under such as large rocks you can step up onto, narrow wooden edging you can make into a balance beam, tables you can crawl under. Be creative, have fun, and never worry if someone’s watching because they probably wish they had your guts!
- If the venue has a larger area of grass, a track or path, do a dynamic movement series such as jogging, running, slow to fast running, high knees, butt kicks, skipping, high knee skipping, backward jogging, carioca in both directions focusing on twisting the upper body to work the oblique, side shuffles, leaps, and cartwheels if you’re very adventurous.
Some of you may be thinking, this all sounds great, but I have a younger child with me so I can’t just go off and do a workout. For parents with a child 3 or younger, I highly recommend getting a jogging stroller like a BOB so that you can still get your workout in.
For parents with kids ages 4 and up in tow, get them a scooter or bike that they can ride along with you while you walk or jog. Another option is to stock your trunk with sports equipment like a soccer ball, basketball, kickball, and jump ropes and actively play with your younger kids while your older child practices. My daughter loves to challenge me to one-on-one soccer, which always starts with her kicking the ball out and us sprinting after it to gain initial control. This series of sprints is my workout! And she gains from having extra soccer practice that is totally for fun. Older kids can also play in the playground while you workout, and may even be interested to try to keep up with what they see you doing!
It’s time for parents to invest in themselves and their children by making adult physical fitness a priority. And, if nothing else, being absolutely sure we can still get up from that lawn chair.
Michelle Berkley is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Youth Exercise Specialist, Youth Group Fitness Instructor, and mom of two kids who play a variety of youth sports.