[photopress:family_Exercise_708.jpg,thumb,pp_style]By Marilyn Richardson
When it’s too hot (or too cold) to go outside, a half hour of indoor circuit training may be the answer. This can be especially fun if the whole family participates.
When my daughter and her five children came to visit, I had to forego my regular routine of walking every day and attending an exercise class three times a week. There were too many people to tend to. Then I had a brilliant idea: Plan an exercise circuit that was doable in the living room. Circuit training (moving from one activity to another) is considered by many physical trainers to be the very best way to exercise. The variety of activity keeps you from feeling bored and the fact that you only do each exercise for a limited number of seconds keeps you thinking, “This is easy.”
To begin with I tried to get the girls (ages 8, 10 and 12) involved in helping think up exercises. But, in truth, I mostly did it myself, alternating between upper and lower body strengthening activities.
The girls helped set up seven stations and we decided to spend 40 seconds at each station with 15 seconds to move into place for the next exercise.
We experienced moderate success. By this I mean we had to modify our plan as we learned from our mistakes. It was a mistake to expect the youngest to keep up with the rest of us. The second time around (once through the circuit takes about 15 minutes) we said. “Kenzie stop,” after 30 seconds. That gave Kenzie the break she needed and let the rest of us know we had only 10 more seconds to go.
Also, the two-pound weights that I own were too heavy for the youngest in our group. Something that weighed only half a pound (a soup can or a water bottle) would have been better.
Another mistake was deciding we didn’t need grandpa to time us. I felt it was more efficient to look at a clock with a second hand and do it myself. It was only after we started that I realized my husband had enjoyed being the timer. It would have been nice had he joined in the exercise, but since he wasn’t going to, he shouldn’t have been left out.
My daughter, who is still trying to tone up from her last pregnancy, liked the activity best and asked to do it the next day. Since a day’s rest for muscles is recommended, I made up a new circuit including mainly stretches.
With a focus on family fun, the exact exercises you do don’t matter so much. I modified exercises from my own routine. But examples are available in those free health magazines or in women’s magazines. By cutting out pictures of the activities, they will help young and old know what to do.
As this was a spur of the moment activity, I showed each granddaughter a different exercise and had them demonstrate for the rest of the family. Work with what is available.
As I write this, I keep thinking of new ideas that might make circuit training even more fun. Use moves from a variety of sports at each station: swimming, golf, football, or gymnastics. Add some cheerleader moves. Or consider a dance theme, from Hip Hop to the Hula, the Twist to the Tango.
Create a circuit with music to fuel the energy. If Dad is willing to try, the whole family may end up on the floor in laughter, which is good exercise in itself.
Although doing exercises incorrectly can lead to injury, you most likely aren’t going to be repeating the moves often enough to cause problems.
Next time my family gets together, we’ll try to include the baby and the toddler, maybe having the two-year-old sit on my lower leg for a horsey ride and hold the baby close while dancing. And we’ll have Grandpa do the timing. The goal is family activity, family fun and family health.
Sample circuit for strength:
1. Bicep curls – remind everyone to lift the weights slowly & keep the elbows close to the body
2. Leg Lunges – use the back of the couch for balance if necessary, take a long step forward and bend both knees, keeping the back straight
3. Triceps (the muscle at the back of the arm) elbows bent at the ears, lift the weights over head and lower them again
5. Run in place (for aerobics)
6. Push ups, (against a wall) – step back so the body has to lean forward
7. Side lunges – large steps to alternate sides, bending the knee and returning to a neutral position
Sample Circuit for stretching:
1. Star Touch – alternate hand reach for toes
2. Around the World – arm circles
3. Twist – upper body
4. Leg lifts
5. Aerobic step up (we used the fireplace hearth, a stair would work)
6. Give me Ten – (on the floor)
7. Squats – deep pliés