No, telling them to run around the block doesn't count.

I’m all about plopping my daughter in the jogging stroller when the weather gets nice, but involving my older sons in the workout has always been a trickier proposition. Let’s just say my attempt to run (with the stroller) alongside them (on bikes) two years ago, well, let’s not say anything about that ever again.

But summer is here, and I refuse to let a 10- and 8-year-old cramp my fitness style for two months as they always do. Especially since those little gamers/future YouTubers desperately need to embrace the benefits of being active in the physical (read: non-Minecraft) world.

My goals are modest. We don’t have to run a 5K together. Baby steps are fine, keeping the focus on togetherness, fun, and some shared cardio and agility. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Tabata Training

I’m a big fan of Tabata workouts, which involve exercising for a short amount of time at super-high intensity, followed by a brief period of rest. (Who doesn’t love rest?) Because my kids are strangely obsessed with kitchen timers and stopwatches, I’m hoping they’ll jump (pun intended) at the chance to time our 30 seconds on/30 seconds off intervals of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, squats, side skaters, and burpees.

Jump Rope Contest

How is it that jumping rope came sooo easily to me as a kid—SO EASILY!—and now leaves me about to keel over after a minute? I hid my daughter’s jump rope all winter because no one could follow the simple instructions not to whip it around the living room, so I suspect everyone will rejoice and join me outside when it reappears from hibernation. I’ll bet they are all better at it than me, even though I run 15 miles a week.

Pool Sports

Some of my best summer memories as a kid involve playing pool basketball and volleyball with family and friends. For “volleyball” we just used a regular beach ball, and we had one of those floating basketball hoops, but this no-tools-required 2 in 1 basketball-volleyball combo has serious potential.

Diving for Treasure

I was underwater 85% of the time during the summer of 1986. I didn’t worry what I looked like in a bathing suit, or what the chlorine was doing to my hair, or if my mascara was running. Getting me to deep dive for pool sticks and rings and come up looking like Medusa would THRILL my children (while also giving me the kind of underwater workout I haven’t gotten since Ferris Bueller was in theaters).

Intra-hood Games

I grew up down the block from a public school, and summertime after-dinner hours meant neighborhood games of baseball, catch the flag, and something called “four corners,” the specifics of which now elude me. The fantastic thing about it—other than the fact that children were outside, being social, and getting exercise—was that we were playing just to have fun. There were no hitting coaches or speed clinics or parents wildly screaming, “C’mon Big D!” (Does the kid’s name start with a D? Does he mean DEFENSE?) on the sidelines. We have a new park walking distance from our home where I could try and organize some evening games. Parents vs. kids? It definitely sounds better than doing the dishes.

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