Archive for the ‘playful fitness’ Category

A New Method of Transporting Kids

My son and I have a new method of transportation for kids. We did not play to develop this, in fact he wished to prevent my movement. He locked himself around my leg and I dragged him along as I went on my way mildly fettered by the 7 year old latched onto my lower leg. The almost 4 year old decided that this looked like so much fun that she joined in the fun by latching onto my other leg. So, there I was dragging my kids from one end of the apartment to the other wearing my 45 pound “shuffler” magnetic boot on one foot and my 27 pound magnetic boot on the other. This is an excellent balance challenge although an uneven workout. Next time I’ll need to switch the kids to opposite legs! It’s a good exercise for the kids too, maintaining their grip on a moving leg. And fun too!


The Wheelbarrow

Exercise of the week: The wheelbarrow

This is one of our new favorites and for some reason it is also very effective as a tool to get my children into the bathroom to take their baths.

Begin by having your child place both hands on the floor. Instruct your child to lift one leg while keeping their arms straight. (Yoga: downward dog split position). Hold that one foot and instruct your child to lift the other foot. Now you are holding both feet. Have the child begin to walk on their hands. Caution: go slow so you do not throw your child forward off balance.

To come out of the wheelbarrow instruct your child to lift their hips and belly (serious belly strengthening). As the child lifts, you lower their feet onto the floor and under them, they end on hands and feet.

Excellent for strengthening your child’s arms and abdominal muscles and more importantly, it’s fun!

A blank page.

Our children come into the world, much like a blank page but with personality. A blue page, or a pink or a textured page but blank. The underlying being is there but the words have not been written, and especially not engraved in stone. What do we decide to teach them? There are so many possibilities, important things like, numbers, letters, names for things, to get along with other kids, look both ways when they cross the street, and to not pick their noses in the middle of ballet class.

I believe that for me the most important thing I can teach my children is a love of physical activity. Except I didn’t need to teach them this, they were born with it. (The way I may have influenced my children and their physicality was by being as physically active as I could be while I was pregnant. I ran, I stretched, I did yoga, push-ups, lifted weights, and walked many miles a day. So, my kids came out running give or take about 9 months. Check my fitness pregnancy blog if you want more details. An excellent resource if you are considering being active during your pregnancy is the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James F Clapp III MD and remember to consult your ob/gyn or midwife.) I’m sure most, if not all children, are born with this love of being physical, the need to explore the world around them and the only way to do that is by moving.

Let the crawlers and toddlers be active, get out of their way, be close, spot the adventurous ones, but also let them fall, let them climb, pick them up, let them explore some more. And so quickly the toddler years are over. Preschool years begin and we, as parents, begin our anxiety about schooling our kids. Relax. Let the preschool years and early elementary years still be about motor skills, both fine and gross motor skills. You can focus on their “schooling” from first or second grade until they are through high school and into college. School will not keep your kids active, in fact it’s the beginning of a decline into adult sedentary living!

So let your kids be active! Have a cartwheel competition, a handstand competition, a jump on one foot competition, a bridge competition. Just do it with your kids! Let them see your love of being active, of sweating, of exercising, of playing a sport, and then give them an airplane ride or wrestle a bit.


Back to business

I am back! Feels like after the past year of very little structured exercise I am now getting a daily dose of exercise and what a difference that makes!

Since my daughter was born just over 2 years ago, it has really been tough to have any sort of regular exercise beyond basic survival activities. Tough to even find time or motivation to write in my fitness blog. After all if I wasn’t feeling fit, how could I write a fitness blog?I was in super amazing shape when I was pregnant with my daughter, (Check my Pregnancy Fitness Blog), but now, not so amazing. Still 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, not a big deal, but I have been feeling weak and squishy, not toned at all. My back has been aching every morning and I just haven’t had energy. But exercise does wonders for the energy and the motivation, my back doesn’t ache every morning and I hope soon I will actually let my kids climb on me without complaining that they are too heavy!

The best part was this morning: My daughter, remember she turned 2 in June, woke up early and decided to get out the yoga mat and “do yoga”. I was still laying in bed trying to sleep. Then later my son wanted to do yoga with me. We did tree pose separately and then holding hands helping each other to balance. Very soon there was a bit of a tussle; only two yoga mats and my daughter wanted to join us. I pulled out the other mat and all three of us were doing yoga (they also did somersaults, donkey kicks and cartwheels) together.  I guess even though I feel that my exercise routine has been super irregular over the past year or two, my children have seen me exercise enough to understand and believe that “exercise,”  yoga and all types of physical activity are normal activities that people do; may they continue to believe that for the rest of their lives!

Scootercise with Purpose (one week until due date)

Saturday morning, 10 days before my due date I went for a jog. I’ve been doing this throughout the pregnancy (visit  for my activity log), but this time I decided to try something different: I would bring Mateo with me. He would ride his scooter while I ran. He has finally learned how to use the brake proficiently and listens (most of the time) when he is asked to stop or to slow down. I thought he would stay with me most of the time.

It worked really well, better than I expected actually. The pace was definitely not too fast for me, except on the down hills. The pace even ended up being a little slow in places. After 2 loops around Cadman Plaza Mateo was tired. He still did a third lap with me, I could have done another but he would not have been able to and he was so tired he almost fell apart, he wanted to go a different way and I wanted to get closer to home. But we chatted and then he went downhill to the playground (I ran down) and he played while I did pushups and pull ups. Not exactly pull ups, more of an equivalent exercise for the back muscles between the shoulder blades using my body weight while holding onto part of the playscape.

How will this work if we continue this? After I am no longer pregnant three loops at that pace will feel super slow and super easy. Mateo will get stronger and faster and maybe it will work out okay if I add in more interval training, jumping jacks and such, or I’ll just do that on my light days… And where will the newborn be?

5 weeks to go

Okay, second pregnancy really sucks. I can’t keep up with Mateo. He loves to play chase: I chase him. I used to always catch him, quickly if needed, or at least stay close to him. I can’t anymore. The last few weeks it’s become really tough, next to impossible. Now really it’s impossible. I can’t move that fast without hurting something: my abdomen, my thighs, my legs give out. I have 5 more weeks of this.

Mateo can no longer climb on me the way he loves to and the way that I used to let him. I liked being his jungle gym, but I can’t be his jungle gym any more. What’s worse is I keep on telling him that I can’t do things. “Mama can’t do this.” “Mama can’t do that.” It’s horrible. And I’m getting angrier at him than I ever have before. Mostly because I’m scared that he’ll run somewhere dangerous before I can catch him, but also because I’m so tired all the time. Really I don’t believe the human species was designed to raise children in isolation the way we do today in the “nuclear family”. It’s impossible to be a good mother when pregnant and needing to care for another young child. Maybe that is why children should be spaced 4 or more years apart? Or grandparents or other siblings of the parents should live close by, or as New York families and other wealthy families in other countries tend to do: hire a full time nanny. Or as the less well off do: drop the child at a full time day care, of course here in New York that is ridiculously expensive also. But I want to be an active and available part of my child’s life, I want to be able to chase him, let him climb on me, and not get angry at him for being a three year old who wants to explore and enjoy the world.

So, back to that first sentence: the second pregnancy doesn’t really suck; it offers unique challenges. I suppose you could say, as a woman said to me today, it prepares mother and child for the addition of a newborn and not being able to meet all the needs of the older child. He gets used to not having his mother at his beck and call, before the arrival of the younger sibling. Not what I want to have happen, but I suppose it is a bit of reality, unless I can create a different reality for my two children, where the needs of both children can be met, meshed together, not separated or placed in a hierarchy of who gets care and attention first. Oh, an extended family who lived nearby would be quite helpful then everyones needs could be met, including my own!

Third trimester challenges

It’s hard to play the same and keep active the same after entering the third trimester. My belly is in the way on everything, my feet have begun to swell, my pelvis aches in the morning and I can’t breath especially when carrying Mateo.  It’s tough this part of the pregnancy. I taught my last Creative Movement class for the spring yesterday. It was fun. Two new students, but so tough, the being a mother and being a teacher at the same time. The teacher and the mother had to compromise and reach a middle ground; take care of Mateo’s needs enough but also keep class going at the same time.

I am finishing to write this post two weeks after I began: Now my pelvis can ache at anytime of the day, unpredictably. I can’t breathe when I am sitting unless my spine is completely lengthened, any relaxation and my diaphragm muscle is squished and I feel short of breath. Walking, I’m short of breath. It’s constant. My feet aren’t so bad if I can get off them periodically. Super tough to carry Mateo so he is riding the scooter a lot or I bring the stroller. I think at this point in the pregnancy the Ergo is only good for carrying him on my back.  At least with him on the scooter, Mateo gets lots of exercise and I can just pull the scooter when he gets tired. But we can still play on the playground equipment together and I can still do somersaults with him and some jumping, so that is good. He is having a hard time getting comfortable when he sits in my lap though. There is very little space left for him. Nature’s way of making the older one grow up before the next one arrives?

Growing Up (Too Quick)!


Toss Your Toddler dance class

Toss Your Toddler dance class

Today I taught a creative movement class for preschoolers, 2 1/2 years to 4 1/2 years. I do this on most Mondays. The class used to be a Toss Your Toddler dance class which was a lot of fun and both parents and toddlers participated. (I still teach this class but it has now been moved to Wednesday mornings at 10:30 am). In this class there is a lot of running, jumping, falling, rolling and partnering with your toddler. Mateo and I loved this class; loved the partnering parts, the rolling together, climbing on top of me. I miss not having him participating in the class when I teach it on Wednesdays, but he’s getting too old, he’s growing up, the other kids are so young. He’s a preschooler now, not a toddler. But we have the Creative Movement class now….


It’s not the same. It’s me and a whole bunch of wonderful other kids and Mateo, who I have to treat as just another student. Which I can’t do of course, especially when he says, “Mama, I want to eat.” Luckily that was just two minutes before class ended. But today was difficult, sad really, even though it was a great class and I had a blast teaching. Mateo wanted to partner with me; he wanted to ride on my belly when we did the crab crawl, he wanted to come up and waltz with me for the waltz music, he wanted to roll with me instead of by himself, and a couple other times. It was sad to have to tell him that we couldn’t do those things together.

He understands that I’m the teacher and that there aren’t any other moms in the class, but soon he will really understand and stop asking me to partner with him in the class. Will we make enough time or the effort to do those things at home? By ourselves? Without the dance class? As my belly gets bigger and bigger?

Ah, but we did slither on our bellies this week. I kept my weight mostly on my arms and knees to keep the pressure off the belly, but it worked. For how many more weeks?


We returned from a short vacation on Monday. After four days of riding around in a car, it felt great to be moving again: right back into a whole lot of walking and teaching the Toss Your Toddler dance class, with all it’s running, jumping , falling and rolling, stretching, and then walking more; this was the same day that we spent on an airplane coming home.

On vacation it was really difficult to keep active. It was hot and not at all like here in Brooklyn where we walk to get everywhere; Miami was all about driving. Driving to the beach where I did light exercise: Mateo and I jumped in the waves, ran from the waves, swam in the waves (well I sort of swam with him firmly suctioned onto me like a starfish.) One day we went to a pool and I swam a bit more, both with Mateo and without. Mateo challenged both myself and Guillermo by having us dive to the bottom of the pool and retrieve a toy. He thought that was a lot of fun, Guillermo also enjoyed it. I however, am a bit fearful of my head being under water and get a bit panicky, so I only dove to the bottom twice.

The day before the pool we didn’t get to the pool or the beach, we got lost on the Miami highways and  went many miles out of our way. Mateo had a nice long nap, but woke up ready to get out of the car and run around. We decided to pull over and let him out for a few minutes at, what I believe was the Ziff Ballet Opera house. Mateo wandered around a bit, then I started doing a little jumping to get him jumping. It was a brick sidewalk with names of patrons every few bricks in a predictable pattern, so we jumped over the names of patrons. Then Guillermo joined in and we began to compete to see who could jump the furthest from a standing still position(Guillermo). Then added a run and jump. We did this as a family for about 15 minutes, maybe more, we had a great time and then Mateo sat in the car so we could go to a restaurant and eat delicious Cuban food at Versailles.

The Problem with Independence Day

The problem with independence day is now we sit when we go to the park, which is nice; usually we are tired, the mamas, not the toddlers. So today I met my friend and the kids played and we sat. Cadman Plaza park was full of kids and nanny’s. The nanny’s sat, benches and benches full of nanny’s, some sat on the steps surrounding the plaza, and yes, here and there, were mothers sitting. Not all, but most. We sat.

What kind of an example are we setting as we sit? What kind of role models are we? Playing and running around is for kids. Adults sit. Oh sometimes the adults exercise, but that is the time for the child to leave the adults alone so they can do the all important EXERCISE. Exercise is something adults have to do, not so much something that is fun to do. Something they have to do to make up for all the time adults spend sitting. Running around a park and having fun, that’s what kids do.

But then I noticed kids sitting all in a row, 6 or 8 of them. And what were they doing? Watching. Watching some adults play tug of war!

Later we did stop sitting, we joined our children in a game of jumping off a tall wall, one by one, two by two and four by four. That was exercise and a whole lot of fun.