How do you make a kid workout fun? Here’s one idea: Take your kids’ favorite foods and turn them into a movement!
Once upon a time, I was asked to come help our favorite nutritionist Margaret Floyd Barry with her older daughter Sia’s posture.
I inwardly shuddered.
I don’t like using the word posture, as it brings up mental images of people with books on heads and strict headmistresses holding rulers whacking them on tables and things.
Ugh. No fun!
If I didn’t think it was going to be fun, then fat chance we were going to convince a cute 7 year old to think it was awesome, either.
What’s a trainer (Or a mom! Or a dad! Or an auntie!) to do? What she really needed was just to move, and that was becoming a bit of a battle. She’s little enough that the “posture” issue might just sort itself out if we could get some multi-directional movement in place.
Now, how to make that fun. (True for adults, too! Not gonna lie! 🙂
Making conversation because I was thinking on my feet, I said, “Sia, what is your favorite food these days?”
“Sushi!” She said happily.
“What does a sushi look like, Sia? Can you show me?” I said, a glimmer of an idea rapidly forming in my head.
Thus the photo above! She quickly made herself into the shape of sushi (which for you yoga fans out there might recognize as child’s pose) and thus the workout began. We added in a little “wag your tail” to the sushi, and I asked if she had any Spanish speaking friends that she would like to talk to.
“Yes I do,” she said.
“Perfect,” I said, “then I’d like you to be a sushi and way your tail while counting to ten in Spanish so you can practice talking to your Spanish-speaking friends.”
“Okay!” She said as she proceeded to sushi wag her tail saying, “Uno, dos, tres…”
Talk about multi-cultural! Fantastic!
Margaret gave me a look I couldn’t quite decipher. She told me later she wasn’t quite sure where I was going with this. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure either. I sure hoped this would work! We had tried an animal name- based workout on the stairs once before with limited success.
“Next favorite food?” I asked.
“Pizza!” She exclaimed. I laughed. Even though she is the daughter of a nutritionist and a professional chef, she’s still a kid.
“Pizza it is then!” I said. “What shape is pizza? Can you show me?”
And so it went….
“Any other favorites?” I asked.
Without hesitation she said, “Chips!”
I laughed again. “What shape are chips, Sia?” This is what she showed me, after we discussed various ways to make a triangle.
“Any other favorites? What do you have for breakfast, for instance?” I asked.
“I love toast with avocado and egg and salt!” she said.
This gave us lots of shapes to work with. I quickly discarded avocado as it would give us more “sushi” shapes and she didn’t need more of that.
Here’s what we came up with for toast, egg, and salt:
We needed to “Crack the egg”, so we came up with “exploding egg” 🙂
I said, “Salt needs to be turned upside down on it’s head and shaken, so that’s what you’re going to have to do too!”
“Any lunchtime favorites?” I asked Sia, wondering what she would come up with next.
“Homemade Mac and Cheese!” Sia said.
I thought to myself….Aah, a chip off the ‘ole block, except that Margaret’s favorite is actually Kraft Mac and cheese. (This is her big normalizing factor. She really likes that orange stuff!)
Feeling like a game show host at this point, I said, “Show me the Mac and cheese!”
The key is to not make it too long with easy to remember names, and most of all, kid-driven. I didn’t come up with any of this other than to guide the movement and make sure we hit lots of directions.
I knew we were onto something when she came up with the kid version of yoga’s Cobra without any adult intervention or suggestion. Wasn’t the food theme but who cares! She’s moving!
Additionally, she had finally cajoled her little sister Sasha into coming over, and the two of them became sleeping snakes, and here they are demonstrating snakes waking up! Hiissssssssssssssss 🙂
Moral of the story: Time to quit when you are ahead!
I smiled, gave elbow high fives, and sent the photos to Margaret later.
The next day she texted me and said they had all done the food workout with great success, and then added in baby bears crawling to Papa Bear for hugs before breakfast.
Let me know in the comments below what you’ve done to cajole your kiddos into moving when they won’t or clearly need to!
(By the way it is Sia’s birthday tomorrow and she is the star of her own YouTube series “Yuck your Yum” so check her out!)