Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Toddlers Make The Best Personal Trainers

Seriously. About two weeks ago our television broke. Just stopped working and we're trying to save up and so can't really fix it or buy a new one right now. Which means no work-out DVD's or Blues' Clues, among other things. And who am I kidding, I rarely used my work-out videos anyway, but at least early in the morning when I was exhausted and the youngin' was up and about he could watch Sesame Street while I cuddled with him on the couch and got awake. Not so anymore.

Naturally, I've had to start getting creative. The past few days have been filled with my son running up to me trying to snap his fingers and saying, "dahn, dahn" which means dance. So we go to his room, turn on his little radio to whatever radio station is playing a good beat and dance our hearts away for a good thirty minutes, sometimes forty.

And let me tell you, this little guy does not stop! If it were up to me, we'd probably dance for like ten minutes, then I would sit on the rocking chair and watch him dance, but no, he needs a dance partner, quitting is not an option. And this is why toddlers make the best personal trainers. They always have energy, will not let you give up, and are so enthusiastic and excited about whatever it is you're doing that they actually trick you into thinking your work-out is fun!

Other reasons toddlers make good work-out partners:

- You never feel self-conscious around them

- If you try something new, they think you're awesome not weird

- They can go for hours

- They won't give up on you

- They're great with improvisations (today T decided to use little blankies as props- genius!)

- Everything is more fun

- They seem to remember everything. Start a habit of working-out with them and try stopping one day, they will call you out on it! And not quit until you start up again.

- If you quit on a gym trainer, they're disappointed or say, that's okay, you'll get it next time.. Try quitting on a toddler though and you may very well get a full blown temper tantrum/meltdown!

- Afterward, you're likely to get your child worn out enough for a nap during which time you can shower and get ready for the day.

I highly recommend this newfound technique of having some fun with your kids and getting some good cardiovascular exercise. You'll save money on a gym, a trainer, and on child care! Win all around.

Here are some guidelines for getting started:

1- Tune in to the radio at a time you know they will start a 30 minute or one hour music block. Or, set up your media player to play a set number of songs for a designated period of time.

2- Rock out with your child! We do a mix of rock 'n' roll, salsa, reggae, hip hop, and country.

3- Get creative. If you've ever taken an aerobics or zumba class you probably have a good idea of moves you'll want to include for yourself. Silly things like swirling your arms slowly, marching, jumping jacks, hopping, and "gettin' low" will all pay off if you repeat them enough times and go at the right pace.

4- Don't be too concerned with what you're doing, nobody is watching except your kiddos and at this age, they don't know enough to know your dancing skills are less than par.

5- Have fun! Let your child do whatever they want as their dance moves, encourage them to be creative and follow suit. Include them in your own moves too, hold them and spin, pick them up over your head, just make sure you're not going too fast and that you have good clearance so you both stay safe.

Props are great too. For older kids, you can use hoola hoops which works wonders on your waistline, choreograph dances together, switch up dance partners etc., For younger children, small blankets, or even burp cloths are fun to hold in your hands and wave around as you dance, just be careful none of your props turn into tripping hazards if you're on a hard surface.

6- This is a great time to teach your kid rhythm and music as well. When we get a rock and roll song we air bang our heads and jump up and down, country music we slow down and do stretches, etc., You can also sing along to the song or repeat certain key words, increasing your child's vocabulary and encouraging them to sing!

7- Don't stop! If you have to slow down or march in place that's fine, but keep the movement going so your heart rate stays up.

8- Try not to make your child feel self conscious, if they try to copy you encourage them but don't worry if they're not doing it quite right. The exercise is all about having fun, and their coordination isn't the same as an adults.

9- Don't be hard on yourself either, sometimes our own coordination isn't what we think it is!

10- Have water on hand, and when you're done you and your child can feel proud of yourselves for a great work-out and a great bonding experience!

I know this is something I want to do more often with my son, we have such a good time and he is really good at not letting me quit. Today after our work-out, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and now he is napping which allows me type out this post! I can feel the work-out paying off and with any luck, over time my child will learn better dance skills and have more confidence when dancing than I do!

Feel free to share your own exercise tips with children in the comments section. I'll try to feature a new way to work-out every week!

No comments: