Balance Beam Walk – You don’t need a real balance beam to work it like a gymnast. To challenge your balance and strengthen your core muscles, find a curb or plank and try to walk the entire length (.10 point deduction for every wobble!). Tip: Once you’ve mastered walking forward, try going backwards!
Arabesque – Get toned like a ballerina with this classic dance move. Lightly grasp a bar in front of you at about waist height. Keeping your left leg straight, lift your right leg up directly behind you until you feel a squeeze in your butt. Pulse your lifted leg up to the sky 10 times before lowering. Tip: The bar is just there for balance (falling on wood chips can get sliver-y!) so don’t use it if you don’t need it.
Static Arm Hang – You may have nightmares about doing this one in gym class but trust me, it’s a lot better when you don’t have 20 classmates staring at your underarms. Holding the bar in either an overhand (pull-up) or underhand (chin-up, like our girl) grip, hang on as long as you can keep your chin above the bar. You’ll feel this one in your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back depending on your grip. Tip: Add extra work by lowering yourself as slowly as possible when you’re finished hanging.
Bench Push-Up – Push-ups are great for working your chest, shoulders, arms, and even core (hold it in tight so your hips don’t sag). If you’re not ready to do them on the ground, try an elevated push-up with your hands on a bench. Tip: Need more of a challenge? Put both of your feet on the bench and your hands on the ground to turn these into a decline push-up!
Calf Raise – Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Raise your body by pushing the balls of your feet into the step and then lower, extending your heels down. Immediately press back up as far as you comfortably can. Try doing 10 slow and then 20 quick pulses to really get those calves burning. Tip: You can add weight to these by holding a small child (preferably one you’re already acquainted with) or a backpack full of books to your chest.
Cardio Sprints – Mix a few sprints in between these body weight exercises to get a full-body circuit workout that will challenge you aerobically as well muscularly. Try sprinting up the stairs and down the slide (or fireman pole!), play tag with the kids, or even just run laps around the outside of the park.
Chin-Up – Playgrounds are the perfect place to work on your chin-ups (underhand grip, like me) or pull-ups (overhand grip), because they have so many different heights of bars. If you can already do one with proper form, use the monkey bars to do as many chin-ups as you can. If you’re still working on lifting your whole body weight, try our modified chin-up (see next slide). Tip: Use the different types of bars to try different grips—narrow, wide, palms facing inward, etc.