Look around—there’s a whole slew of gym-worthy equipment to break a sweat on. Here’s how to use it to get in a legit workout while you’re on mom duty.
When you have a little kid, spending quality time together and getting in a good workout feel like two things you just have to do as separate activities. Except, there’s the playground. “This is a perfect chance to have some parallel play with your child,” says Larysa DiDio, a celeb trainer based in New York who has worked with many mom clients. “Plus, you can do exercises you normally wouldn’t in the gym as you get a dose of the outdoors.” You simply need to see all those slides, bars, and swings the way a trainer does—as different circuit stations. Get in sets of exercises as you equipment-hop with your child, and you’ll rack up a total-body workout. “Keep an easy-going attitude,” says DiDio. “Sometimes your kids are going to interrupt you, and so be it. When your toddler bolts and you have to scoop them up, take the opportunity to do a few weighted squats or some overhead presses, Mommy-and-me style.” The key is just to keep your heart rate up and play happily—just like lifestyle blogger and CrossFitter Lauren McBride in these too-cute, mommy-and-me workout photos. Here’s how.
If you’ve worked out with TRX—those hanging straps at most gyms that intensify just about any body-weight exercise—then you’ll see some potential in that empty swing seat.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Stand with back to a swing, about a foot or two away, and place the top of left foot atop seat (sole facing up). Bend right knee 90 degrees (knee centered over ankle) to lower into a lunge, then stand up. Do 20 reps; switch legs and repeat.
Facing away from a swing, start in plank position with the tops of feet resting on the seat and palms on the ground directly below shoulders. Slowly pull knees in toward chest, then extend legs behind you to return to starting position. Do 20 reps.
Baby’s in the sandbox or taking five in her stroller? Use the ringside seats—bench, bleachers, whatever’s sturdy—for this quick total-body HIIT.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, facing away from a bench. Lower into a squat, tapping the seat with butt, then stand up, bringing left knee up. Return to standing, then repeat, this time bringing right knee up. Keep alternating for 20 reps.
Stand facing the bench from a couple feet away and place palms shoulder-width apart atop the seat to get into an inclined plank position. Then do push-ups, alternately lifting one leg as you lower. Do 20 reps.
Stand facing the bench (or on the lowest bleacher), then place right foot atop the seat and push through right heel to stand up, bringing left knee up toward chest. Step back down with left foot, then right. Repeat, this time stepping up with left foot and bringing right knee up. Do 20 reps.
Sit on edge of bench with hands by hips, palms flat and fingers curled over rim; walk feet forward and scoot butt off so that you’re balancing weight between heels and palms. Bend elbows 90 degrees directly behind you to dip, then press up again. Do 20 reps.
Going bar-to-bar like you did as a kid is itself a great arm and core workout. But you can squeeze even more serious upper-body training out of these bar exercises.
Stand grasping a single monkey bar with both hands with an overhand grip—chances are you easily tower over the tyke-scale equipment, so set yourself in the top position of a pull-up with elbows bent by sides and chin hovering above the bar. From here, lift your feet up and bend knees so you’re suspended, then slowly lower until arms are fully extended. Stand up again; start from the top. Do 10 to 20 reps.
Start by grasping a single bar with both hands with an overhand grip, hanging down with arms extended. Bring feet off the ground and curl bent knees in toward chest. Hold for 1 count, then lower knees back down and, without letting feet touch the ground, repeat. Do 10 to 20 reps.
This playground fave is also an ideal incline for an uphill sprint—try it and you’ll get a pop of high-intensity cardio and a targeted strength exercise for your butt and hamstrings.
Run up the slide and walk down (lightly hold sides for balance if you need to). Do that 5 times whenever you’re in the vicinity.