What’s the most important component of exercise for our clients – they have to love their work-out! Makes sense right? If they like their training, you’re going to be a rock star, and they’re going to see and feel results. So turn back the clock and go to the playground for a fun body leverage work-out!?
This Ain’t No Swing Set
If you’ve seen the new playground equipment, you’ll think you’re in a multi-purpose gym. We’re talking mini-climbing walls, crawl tunnels, horizontal ladders, mini-ropes courses, stand and spin rotational Sol Spinner, free standing boogie boards, SwiggleKnots Bridge, Tight Rope Bridge, Skyport Climber, and of course the standard equipment like swings, titer-toters, and slides. For a playground work-out, the opportunities are endless. Landscape Structures have some of the most unique playground equipment - http://www.playlsi.com/Explore-Products/Featured-Products/New-Products/Pages/New-Products.aspx. To quote from their web site: “ . . . reinventing the common playground! These new playground products lead the way in encouraging kids to play outdoors…”
Climbing Wall Free Standing Boogie Board
We always want a push and pull of the upper body. We especially want the pull for our female clients to recruit the scapula adductor muscles, which pull on the tendons, then pull on the thoracic vertebrae and stimulate bone growth to prevent osteoporosis.
The hardest “pull” exercise is the pull-up, like the saying goes: “Pull up, because everyone’s jaw drops when they see a girl bust them out.” So get your clients to “bust out” some negative pull-ups with your assist pushing on the feet or with a foot assist on an elevated surface. Next is a full pull-up with one foot on an elevated surface giving a little assist with the leg for more reps. Easiest is with both feet on an elevated surface and doing an endurance set of 15 – 20 reps.
Another way to “pull” is a little more acrobatic. Hanging from a horizontal ladder with feet on another rung and pulling up. This one is a little easier and will give our clients a tremendous sense of success to be able to “bust out” 10 – 15 reps while hanging almost upside down. And this is the classic pull on the thoracic vertebrae.
For the push, we have the push-up which can be done on the knees, toes, or feet elevated on a bench to make it easy, moderate, or harder respectively. We can also have different hand placements for varying levels of intensity – very wide hands to recruit more of the pecs and anterior deltoids – normal hand placement for normal recruitment of pecs, triceps, and anterior deltoids – and “V-push-up” with fingers and thumbs together recruit a lot of triceps and pecs. Depending on the difficulty of the push-up we can get our clients to do and endurance set of 15 – 20 reps, a strength set of 8 – 12 reps, or a power set with 5 reps.
Almost anything we do at the playground uses the muscles that support the core. For a push-up the client has to contract the ab’s to maintain a neutral spine. For a pull-up the client has to contract both ab’s and especially the erector spinea to maintain a neutral spine in order to accomplish the exercise.
But, the client wants more core than “core incognito” right!? They want a hard target exercise for the ab’s. There’s a piece of playground equipment called “stand and spin rotation Sol Spinner,” the whole apparatus rotates and the person on the equipment makes it spin by holding onto rails and moving their core side-to-side. Guaranteed you and your client will want to puke when you get off, but it’s a heck of a neutral spine core work-out, especially the faster you go. No reps on this, just have fun.
Ok so you don’t want to puke, no problem, we can get the core with horizontal ladder swings. Hanging from the horizontal ladder, get your client to swing his or her legs up as high as possible. It’s kind of a Crossfit move, but really focuses on a superb contraction of the ab’s. This is a hard exercise, so probably 5 – 10 reps will do it for the ab swings.
And while we’re on the horizontal ladder (my favorite) holding onto a rung and feet anchored several rungs away so the body is almost straight. Then have your client pull his/her hips up so the body is straight (neutral spine) and do this for reps of 15 – 20. This is an awesome exercise for the back (erector spinea), hamstrings and butt.
Let’s start with jumping while holding the hand rails of the slide. The client is holding onto the ladder of the slide, and jumping similar to a squat jump, 10 – 15 reps. Holding the ladder can give the client a feeling of being able to jump higher. Next exercise is over to the picnic table or bench for slow single leg step ups. In order for most of our clients to accomplish this exercise they’re going to have to lean forward to get their weight on top of the pushing foot. As such, a little momentum is required. But once the movement is initiated, the movement is slow and controlled, especially going down. This one is more of a power move, so let’s go 5 – 10 reps with each leg. And the third leg exercise is plyometrics “box” jumps. We can do it two ways: 1) explode off the ground onto the platform or 2) jump off the platform, land, and explode up. For jump training the recommendation is 5 – 10 reps of max intensity.
Play tag on the climbing wall or move up and down with distinct and safe movements. Not only can this improve agility, but it can have a huge impact on the confidence of a client who may need a little push to try exercises and movements that are a little more risky. It’s also awesome for grip/upper body strength.
Move fluidly through a ropes course. Again this can be risky, but fun and rewarding for clients. Also improves balance and grip/upper body strength.
One of the coolest pieces of equipment is called “free standing boogie board” (http://www.playlsi.com/Explore-Products/Product-Lines/Freestanding-Components/Kids-In-Motion/Boogie-Board/Pages/Boogie-Board.aspx) so that your client has to stay on the board using balance. You can help the balance by having your client hold the end of a towel while you hold the other end. Or you can stabilize the board by holding the attachments on either end. This is good for balance and leg strength.
It’s been a long winter, so as soon as the snow melts, get your client into the fresh air and give them a killer fun playground work-out. Or do a Playground Boot Camp Work-out.