Tuesdays and Thursdays are still for swimming, but I think we're in the last week of that. The boys have made so much progress that they can no longer be Rays masquerading as Eels. So they're moving into the Ray class, which pretty much requires that I move them to the Saturday morning class. The boys had fun in class today, but were disappointed that Chris (who came along to spend quality time with the treadmill today) and I wanted to go right home afterwards. Tuesdays are also the day that one of the job boards posts new listings and so the next thing I knew it was 3:10 and time to head over to Max's school.
Max's school has free after school activities as part of its charter. It is widely used as free after school daycare, which creates some discipline issues and a never-ending need for volunteers, but the program continues to produce some winners.
As part of Max and my Spring Fitness Challenge . . . Omigosh, you know what would be fun?!? I should totally open this up. Are there any other other-sons/mother-daughters/father-sons/father-daughters who want to do this with me? We'll made a button and everything!
Here's the general guidelines: we have to have some kind of workout together every day but Sunday. Now, once we're through this last bit of winter-like weather, that's mostly going to look like biking to school in the mornings or doing a workout using free weights, plus a round of pushups and crunches. There is no weight-loss goal. It is simply a fun fitness for the sake of fitness thing. The goal is to be in good enough shape at the start of the real summer that we don't avoid shorts or swim suits or summer-fun activities because we feel too tired or too flabby or somehow inadequate in some way.
These fitness activities should follow the guidelines outlined in Trim Kids.
I'll summarize it for you. I loved the book. It's the sanest approach to healthy eating and activity levels I've ever seen for kids, so if you have a kid who has slid into the overweight category, I do recommend checking out the book from the library. But for our purposes, the point is simply this: kids don't benefit from the same kinds of exercises that adults do--but they do benefit from exercise. Kids have a metabolism and nervous system that likes big activity in short bursts. Think tag. Think hide and go seek (where there is a base you have to run to). Think Red-Rover and Red-Light/Green-Light. Think biking around the neighborhood--where you bike as fast as you can to Lackey's house and then everyone stops and argues over where to go next for ten minutes. Then you bike hard over to the playground where everyone assumes Koala and sloth-like positions on the monkey bars while discussing exactly what constitutes a "good dog" and who has the better dog in the neighborhood. Then you bike hard to the convenience store where everyone buys a twinkie (or whatever) and then you sit around on the stone wall (or whatever) outside the store and discuss what to do next. (You decide that everyone will go home and change into their suits to meet at the pool where you will play . . . Sharks and Minnows. Or Marco Polo.)
So when you "workout" with your kid, that means that you pick kid-friendly activities. Biking to school is fine. The workout I did last night with Max works fine because it's a) short--only 20 minutes and b) constantly changing. It doesn't stay on one muscle group for more than a dozen repetitions without changing the exercise in some way (and it returns to each muscle group more than once). Tuesdays are very long days for Max. This makes it really hard to fit in anything to the already packed day. BUT one of Max's activities is the after school walking club. So after school I showed up and offered to walk with the club. This club is led by the Assistant Principal, which I love because she keeps a firm reign on the kids. There is a "fast" group and a "slow" group. She gave me the "fast" group, briefly explained the procedure, and then we were off.
For the first few minutes I was genuinely worried that I couldn't keep up. Luckily the kids have to stop at every cross walk and wait for the rest of their group to catch up. Then the "kid metabolism" thing kicked in. Their starting pace wasn't one they could keep up either. Soon I was keeping up just fine, and for the last half, I was leading and egging them on.
It. was. so. much. fun!!
Max apparently usually walks with the slow group, but I told him if we were going to count this as our exercise for the day (and it totally counts because it's more than 20 minutes of fast-walking) that he had to do the fast group with me. He surprised himself by keeping up with me--which means that by the end he was also leading the group. He was proud of that. I was proud of that, too.
The frequent stops and mini-rests that take place at each curb are part of the club's success. It allows kids to be fit in the way that kids are designed to be. They surge ahead as they step off the curb to cross the street, and lose speed the further they get from that point. Stopping even for 30 seconds while waiting for the stragglers to catch up is all the break they need. It's also a blessing for the less-fit kids because it gives them a chance to catch up. Since these breaks are always there, if they stay with the club, they will gradually gain fitness and get to be one of the kids who waits for others to catch up.
Anyway, I definitely enjoyed myself, Max did, too, and we'll definitely take advantage of the Tuesday Walking Club for our Tuesday exercise.
So. Anyone else want to commit to playing/exercising with their kid for four to six days a week through the end of your school year? (It's six for us, but I can appreciate that others might have scheduling issues that require them to scale back.) Our goal is to do this till the start of swim season (June 13th) when swim practice will give him an hour of exercise five days a week.