A great way to draw parents into your group exercise studio more often is to provide innovative opportunities for parent-and-child “quality time.” At Rome Athletic Club in Rome, Georgia, we offer “Buff Bodz ’n’ Little Bodz.” This class provides a moderate level of physical activity for parents and their children, while incorporating lots of giggles, cross-generational bonding and behavior modeling, plus a little mental exercise to boot. Since this is a parent-and-child workout, the instructor has a lot of help keeping the children focused, which makes teaching the class a snap. Almost all exercises are modifiable, so you can increase or decrease the challenge to match the age and ability of each participant.
Little Bodz Details
Format: Depending on the ratio of participants to instructors, you can teach this class as a circuit, with one or more parent-and-child teams at each station, or you can set up the games for individual work. Choose a range of dance and athletic movement patterns to target all major muscle groups; and emphasize cardio, strength and coordination.
Total Time: 35–45 minutes
Equipment Needed: Keep it simple. Use (8-inch) lightweight balls, a deck of playing cards, short pieces of rope or jump ropes, and the handout for the active puzzle game Dot Dot Dash. You may download this handout and directions for additional activities at www.leighcrews.com/pdf/idealittlebodz.pdf.
Music: Play upbeat, motivating music (130–140 beats per minute). The class is not choreographed, so the music is used only as background and to energize the atmosphere. Since the class involves children, make sure the lyrics are clean, upbeat, positive and not distracting.
Class Setup: Depending on your location and the weather, the class can be performed either indoors or outdoors. If you are outdoors, think safety first: block off the area from traffic, make sure you have plenty of water, and encourage the group to bring and use sunscreen. Allow plenty of room for running, as most games require some space.
(approximately 5 minutes)
Standing Cat/Cow. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hands resting above knees on thighs. Keeping shoulders relaxed, flex your spine like a mad cat, then extend your spine like a swaybacked cow.
Frog on Tiptoes. Squat and try to touch the floor between your legs, then stand and reach for the sky.
Climb the Ladder. March in place while reaching up with one arm at a time, as if you were climbing a ladder.
Twist ’n’ Reach. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and do torso rotations horizontally, then in diagonal patterns. Bend one knee and lift the foot behind you. Reach back with the opposite arm to touch the raised foot. Switch sides.
Knee-Highs and More. March in place, slowly increasing intensity to lift the knees to hip level. Run in place, “kicking your biscuits.”
Piggy Relay. Have parents stand at one end of the room and kids at the other. Kids race to their parents, then each parent carries his or her child “piggyback” (age and size of child permitting) to the starting point.
Choose two or three interactive parent-and-child games from the following:
Dot Dot Dash. Give participants a short message encoded in the dots and dashes of the Morse code. They race letter by letter to a decoding station, where a copy of the code is posted. They decode one letter sequence per turn until they find all the letters. The message is scrambled, so guessing is difficult until all letters are decoded.
Card Game. Spread a deck of playing cards face down on the floor. Print a set of “challenges” on separate cards lying face down next to the playing cards. (For challenge examples go to www.leighcrews
.com/pdf/idealittlebodz.pdf.) One parent chooses a card out of one pile, and one child chooses a card out of the other pile. Together, the class must perform the number on the playing card multiplied by the task on the challenge card. For example: The child draws a “10” playing card, and the parent draws a challenge that says, “Do six times the number on the playing card of sit-ups while passing a ball back and forth.” The entire group must perform a total of 60 sit-ups. If there are 10 people in the group, then each person does six sit-ups.
Dance Add-On. Have one person start by making up four beats of dance steps; for example: step, together, step, tap (clap while tapping the foot). The next person repeats what the first person has choreographed and adds on four beats. Keep going until everyone has added a dance segment. If a person forgets, the team starts over from the top.
Chinese Jump Rope. Place ropes around the legs of two chairs, forming a long rectangle. Create jumping patterns in and out of the ropes. For example: face sideways to the rope and jump both feet in; straddle the rope with both feet out; then do lateral jumps, ending with one foot inside and one foot outside. Try jumping while clapping, or jumping in and out on one foot.
All Hands on Deck. Establish three
areas: one side of the play space is a ship; the opposite side is the shore; in between is a marked area called “the deck.” The instructor is the captain who barks the orders. “All hands on deck!” means all must run to the deck and sit down. “Attention!” means all stand in military style. “Salute!” means all salute in unison. “All hands on ship!” means all run to the ship. “All hands ashore!” means all run to shore. Vary commands by asking for different skills: “All hands skip to shore!” “All hands bear-crawl on deck!” or “All hands snap their fingers to shore!” Additional skills can include riding on the parents’ backs; facing each other and holding hands while doing grapevines to the target area; and others that you come up with yourself.
Partner Ball Toss. Parent and child each have a small ball, which they toss to each other in the following progression:
1. One tosses high, the other low.
2. They alternate tossing high and low.
3. They add a bounce when tossing low.
4. They hold one ball between them and walk, tossing the other ball back
Tree Pose. Parent and child stand next to each other. They each place their outside foot on the inside of the opposite leg; their inside hands come together in a partner namasté; and they hold the pose for 15 seconds before switching sides.
Downward-Facing Dog. Parent and child both place hands and knees on the floor, straighten the spine and lift the tailbone toward the ceiling, bending the knees if necessary to keep a neutral spine.
Partner Staff Pose. Parent and child sit facing each other in staff pose, feet touching. Using yoga straps—the child holds one end and the parent the other—they assist each other in a forward fold.
Butterfly. Parent and child sit facing each other with soles of the feet together and knees bent. Participants gently press the outsides of the thighs toward the floor.
Until a couple of years ago I was still attacking my workouts with the same intensity I did when I was a young competitor with...
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