For the past six weeks we have made a point of doing family fitness on Sunday. We have not missed a week yet, except for one when Jim and I were away. One day is not enough to make a big difference, but what we've found is that the Sundays are so much fun that the girls are pushing for more workouts, during the week, after school. If a grown up is flagging, they push us. It helps to have all the horses pulling in the same direction.
Following is a list of the family fitness activities we have tried, mostly successfully.
1. Hiking with smartbells. We went 20 minutes into the foothills in one direction and turned around. The girls ran down all of the hills. The smartbells, which we were sometimes lifting and swinging around, attracted a lot of attention from other hikers. See www.thinkfit.com.
2. Wii dance. The girls led this one, for about 30 minutes. Definitely got our heart rates up, and was at times very very funny. Great for rainy Sundays, of which there have been too many this year.
3. Tennis. We bought kids' balls -- they are bigger and a little less bouncy than regular tennis balls, so the girls have a better chance of returning the ball. Picking up all of the un-returned balls meant lots of running around on the courts. And we biked to the courts, and back.
4. Kangaroo jumpers. These are weird shoes, like ski boots, with plastic arcs underneath so that when you run you actually jump, leap, bound like a kangaroo. Jim and India kangaroo jumped to school a couple of days in a row, first on earth-day, despite the fact that both were panting and sweating when they arrived. The attention from on-lookers is a big motivator.
5. Climbing wall. Also a huge hit. Jim and I learned to belay (sp?), and the girls went all the way to the top in a couple of spots on the wall, several times. The girls feel muy macho when they come down. They beg us to take them after dinner on school nights.
6. Bike riding. Ok I over did it on this one. Took the girls on a 7-8 mile ride into town to run errands. They were feeling great until about 10 minutes from home, after two hours of riding around, when they contemplated the hill to come and started to unravel. I called Jim (who worked out in the morning) and asked him to minivan to the rescue. He gave me a look. But it was great for them to realize how far they could ride. And we went through some incredibly beautiful Palo Alto neighborhoods.
We've been thinking about trying to build a family-fitness community too and have taken one small step in that direction. We invited one family to join us for family fitness a few Sundays ago. We were not as organized as we had intended but the kids had a great time playing football in the water. Next time we'll plan to start earlier and have a grown up or two get things started.
Another friend, a health and fitness-oriented mom, suggested when we talked about this that we should organize regular family-fitness get togethers, which she offered to host at her home, so that parents could rotate taking charge and thinking of activities each week. With multiple families we could organize soccer, football, softball, ultimate frisbee. This would also make it fun socially. I thought it was a fabulous idea, still do. Hoping to get some of that going once school gets out. Let us know if you want to be included.