Play date

How to juggle kids and exercise, Literally,

The day my twin boys turned 4, their 7 P.M. bedtimes and my evening workouts went out the door. By the time they’d conk out (around 9 P.M.), the only activity I was up for was diving into my fluffy duvet. I didn’t stop exercising completely–I broke a little sweat working with clients–but I missed concentrating on my own muscles. So I decided to get the kids in on the act. I figured they could have fun and I could get some exercise.

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Get moving, kiddo I pulled out my workout balls and mats and spread them all over the garage, along with the boys’ blocks and puzzles. Then I hopped on my stationary bike. To my surprise, the boys entertained themselves for 27 straight minutes. Strength training was a little more challenging: I let them count my biceps curls, but after the sixth rep they got bored and stopped. I gave them one-pound weights (no heavier, otherwise they could get hurt) and suggested a game of Simon says. Together, we did three sets of biceps curls and shoulder raises (all right, so they took extended rest periods). Then I churned out 10 bent-knee push-ups while piggybacking Cooper on top of me; that was hard–he weighs 30 pounds. I worked my abs by sitting on top of an exercise ball, holding Payton and bouncing 25 times. He giggled; my stomach burned.

Play games For lower-body work, I did a fun leg exercise that my clients love (see card trick description at right). I lined up 10 playing cards in a row on the ground and gave the boys the rest of the deck to play with. I squatted to pick up one, stood up, then lowered again to place it on top of the next card. I moved up the line, picking up one card at a time.

Take a recess The plan worked. So what if I’m not able to get a whole workout in all at once? Many times, I’ve stopped to throw a ball in the middle of a set. Remember, all activity counts at the end of the day. It’s more of a shame if you don’t have anything to add up.

WORKOUT

CHEAT SHEET

Just because you take a holiday doesn’t mean your muscles are entitled to one too. I give my clients who are going on vacation (or location) an effective workout they can do anytime, anywhere. For Penelope Ann Miller, who’s currently filming Along Came a Spider in Vancouver, I provided the following routine, which should be done every other day after 20 minutes of aerobic exercise. All you need is a deck of cards.

Card trick As previously described, line up 10 cards; squat to pick up each one. Works butt.

Push-up With body straight, bend elbows to lower chest. Straighten arms. Repeat 10 times. Works chest, triceps.

Leg lift Lie on left side, bend right leg and lift knee to shoulder level; lower. Do 20 reps. Straighten right leg; lift and lower 20 times. Extend right leg in front of you; lift and lower 20 times. Switch sides. Works butt and quads.

Oblique crunch Curl up, twist shoulders left; lower, Repeat, twisting right. Do 3 sets of 25. Then perform 75 regular crunches. Works abs.

A LIME TO GRILL

Before edamame and cactus salads, simple grilled meat was a staple in spa dining rooms. But as the marinades got fancier, the calories increased, The ones you pick up in the market nowadays have a lot of sugar (as much as 16 grams per serving). After the meat gets slathered with sauce three times–pre-grill, over the fire and again on your plate–you can’t even taste the original freshness. The secret to good, healthy grilling is really in the sauce. I like a tangy lime one, which consists of 2 tbsp. minced onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, a handful of chopped fresh oregano, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, pepper and salt. Season chicken or fish in this marinade for at least an hour before grilling. That ought to really light your fire.

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