Scenario 1: The sun is shining, the air is warm, and you’ve convinced yourself to sip sangria on a patio instead of being stuck inside a gym on a day like this. You know you should exercise but can’t bear to be in an extra hot, extra sweaty gym today.
Scenario 2: You’re taking your kids to the park for the umpteenth time this week. They gleefully go off and play while you sit on a park bench and chat it up with the other parents about how hard it is to find time to exercise in your busy schedules. If only there were a convenient time and place to do a workout.
Scenario 3: You completed your latest obstacle course race (OCR) last weekend and you found it tougher than expected. Those monkey bars and climbing walls are a struggle when you’re already gassed. Regardless, you’ve signed up for your next race and are looking for creative ways to train to make this one better than the last.
Do any of these sound familiar? Great news is that there’s a simple solution to all these scenarios. It is affordable, accessible, and most importantly, fun!
The solution is…PLAYGROUNDS! Yes, those colourful structures are free to use, easily accessible (they are everywhere), and offer all the necessary structures and equipment needed to get a sweat on.
Now the important question: What sort of exercises can I do on a playground?
Glad you asked. Below is a short list of exercises followed by a workout you can do on virtually any playground. Do it yourself, do it with your kids or a group, get creative, and have fun!
(Important note for safety: Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, dress appropriately, and pace yourself. Nobody likes heat stroke.)
Put both hands on an elevated surface (park bench or platform) in a push-up position. Perform a push-up by bending your elbows and lowering your chest toward the surface. Press back up by straightening your arms.
Tip: The higher the platform - the easier it is, the lower the platform - the more difficult it becomes.
Progression: Standard or Decline Push-up
For a standard push-up, place hands and feet on a level surface and perform a push up as described above. For a decline, put your feet on an elevated surface.
Using the same elevated surface from the push-up. Step onto it. Bring both feet up, step back down, and repeat.
Hop onto that elevated surface with both feet, hop or step back down to start.
Grip the seat of a swing so that your forearms are resting in the seat, hands are close together. Set yourself on an angle so that your weight is supported by the seat (elbow plank position). Extend your arms overhead, bracing your core. Bring your arms back down to plank position.
Progression: Hanging leg raises
Hold on to a monkey bar with both hands, allowing your legs to hang freely. Bring your knees up to your chest and lower them back down.
Swing Jump Squat
While standing, grab a chain of a swing in each hand. Lean back to put tension on the chains and support the weight with your arms. Squat down, bending at your hips and knees to bring your butt towards the ground. Jump up from your bottom position and drop back down into the squat.
Progression: Swing Single Leg Jump Squat
Set up the same as the squat. Put your balance on one foot and then squat down, extending your other leg behind or in front of you. Jump up using your planted foot and squat back down on the same foot. Complete reps on one side before switching feet.
Set up the same as the swing squat, standing position holding the chains. Perform a ‘row’ by pulling your chest towards your hands, driving your elbows backward. Straighten your arms to return to start.
Progression: Monkey bar chin-up (eccentric or standard)
Grip a monkey bar with an underhand grip (palms up) shoulder width apart. For eccentric, jump up so that your chin is at bar height, and lower yourself down to straight arms slowly (4-5 second count) swing to the next bar and repeat. For standard, pull yourself up so your chin is at the bar, and lower yourself down at a regular pace (1-2 seconds), swing to the next bar and repeat.
Start at the base of a slide. Run up to the top as quick as you can and slide down. Make it more difficult by taking a longer route each time
Pick a nearby landmark like a sign or a tree and sprint to it. Walk back to your starting point and sprint again.
Perform these exercises back to back with minimal rest (less than 30 seconds) for a number of rounds. Beginners: 2-3 rounds, Intermediate 4-5 rounds, Advanced 6-8 rounds
Rest 1-2 minutes between rounds.
- 20 Jumping Jacks
- 20 High Knees
- 20 Butt Kicks
- 30 Arm Circles
- Incline push-up – 8 to 12 reps
- Step-up – 12 to 20 reps per leg
- Swing Ab-Rollout – 8 to 12 reps
- Swing Squat – 8 to 12 reps
- Swing Row – 8 to 12 reps
- Slide Dash – 10 to 12 reps
- 3 walking laps around the playground
These are just some examples of the exercises you can do on a playground. Feel free to ‘play around’, get creative and have fun!
Liam Armstrong – PRIME Personal Fitness Training
PRIME PFT offers online and in person training for clients of all fitness levels. Online training programs are built for flexibility of our client’s schedule, abilities, and available equipment. Playground exercise is just one of many options that allows online clients to get their workouts in if they can’t get to the gym.
If you would like to know more about playground training, or other personal training services with PRIME, contact Liam at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect on Instagram and Facebook @prime.pft