I was inspired to write a new active.com article after watching my students play at recess. I present Playground Fitness: 6 Cross Training Games. Please check it out. And then get out there and have some fun.
Normally, my work gets edited when I send it in. I understand, that's their job, they need to make my words fit their website. But I think, especially for this one, it would be fun to see the differences between what I turn in and what goes up. Again, I want to stress I'm not complaining about the edit. What went up is fine and I appreciate active.com running my stuff. But I think the original draft was a little funnier, a little looser. I think you'll agree that what my editor cut out should have been cut for mass consumption, especially if you're familiar with the rest of the site's content. So read active's, then the original.
So here is my original version of Recess Cross Training.
By: Doug Robertson
the same workouts over and over again is a quick path to burning out
and losing interest in your sport. When you feel that heat on your toes
it is time to switch it up. But how? By recapturing the essence of sport
in it’s most simple form.
As a child.
exercise all the time without knowing it. Children at play don’t know
about sets or reps or lactic acid thresholds or heart rate zones. They
know they have twenty minutes before the recess bell rings and they need
to get as much playing done as possible before the teacher makes them
learn more math. Visit a school, watch a recess (Disclaimer Steps- Have a
child at the school. Check in at the office. Don’t be the creepy
guy/gal at the fence. Active.com will not bail you out.), and notice the
joy and energy with which most children play. Realize that the
stereotype of “this generation just sits and plays video games” is as
true as any other stereotype. Then get some friends and steal those
is the easiest childrens game to adapt for grown-up purposes. You need a
group of friends and a field. That’s all. Tag takes less gear than
soccer. The rules are as simple as you remember. Someone is It. It is
not a desirable thing to be. Tag someone else, and make them It. Run
possible variations on this game are as endless as your creativity.
Multiple Its are a nice change so that no one, you know who you are, can
hang out on the perimeter of the play zone where it’s safe. Freeze Tag
defeats the purpose of constant movement but does allow for a nice rest.
Partner Tag, where everyone must hold hands with one other person, adds
difficulty and teamwork. Line Tag is played on a basketball court,
where all players must stay on the lines painted on the ground, so it
turns into a live action Pac Man game. A personal favorite, and a great
way to close out the game, is Kamakazi Tag. Kamakazi Tag is simple-
Everyone is It. The logic loop this throws children into is beautiful to
behold for a good two or three minutes.
Three Flys Up
Flys Up requires at least one ball and enough people for two teams of
however many people you want. The teams stand on either side of the
field, and the person(s) with the ball kick it at high as they can
towards the other team. The goal is to catch the ball three times. The
first person with three catches wins. As you can imagine, this easily
can lead to full contact bloodsport. Adults will have no one equipped
with yellow vest and whistle to hand out time-outs for rough play, so
everyone will need to reach an agreement about the level and intensity
of bump and run.
more balls in the air, the more active and chaotic the game becomes.
Kicking, sprinting short distances, catching, possibly tackling, and
shouting the whole time use muscles in different ways sure to have you
waking up the next day wondering what exactly you did to yourself.
needs more specialized gear than the previous two, but it balances out
by only taking two people to play. The joy in smacking a tetherball as
hard as you can found only in wildly wailling on a speed bag in a boxing
gym. It takes hand-eye coordination, fast twitch reactions, and core
strength to show you’re the King or Queen of the circle. Making the
choice between stopping the ball with your face or getting out of the
way and being that much closer to the final wrap will raise anyone’s
From ducking to dodging to twisting
up for an explosive effort, your obliques, thighs and lower back will
be firing on all cylinders to keep up with demands. Reaching for high or
low shots and blocks will have those shoulders burning before you can
say, “Nuh uh, you grabbed it and threw it! Cheater!” Watch out for the
metal ring at the top of the ball, nothing hurts worse than connecting
with a knuckle at full speed.
Kidding! Don’t do this. You’re going to rip your arms clean off your body.
Sharks and Minnows
variations to this. The first is the original game, the one played in a
pool. Everyone, the minnows, lines up on the wall. The shark stalks the
center of the deep end. The minnows must get from one wall to the other
without being tagged on the head above water by the shark. Like Three
Flys Up, this can be as physical as your group of friends want. Strong
swimmers beware of drowning your weaker swimmer friends. In direct
dismissal of the food chain, tagged minnows become sharks until it’s
everyone against one little last lonely minnow.
Land-Based variant involves a court or field of some type with the same
set up. Everyone on one border save for one person in the middle. It is
basically tag but you have to run from Side A to Side B. Fun
modifications are changing the gate of the players. For example- Zombie
Sharks and Minnows means everyone must move like a zombie (agree if
you’re talking Romero classic zombie or Fast zombie). Robot Sharks and
Minnows, Skipping Sharks and Minnows, Dancing Sharks and Minnows, Crab
Walking Sharks and Minnows, Backwards Sharks and Minnows. Creativity
abounds, limited only by what you really don’t want your friends to see
you do. With different modes and levels of movement, different muscle
groups are engaged. Not to mention the diaphragm workout you’re going to
get watching the guy who drops you on hill climbs struggle to do the
Worm across the field.
Lava Monkey Bars
have monkey bars. The ground is lava. You will burn and die if you
fall. Who can complete the most back and forth treks before falling to
their doom? Good natured mocking, taunting, and otherwise from those
is what happens when no teachers are around and the children have free
reign of the playset. Who needs a Warrior Dash obstacle course when you
have two slides, a fireman’s pole, a pull-up bar, stairs, a captain’s
wheel, a spinning tic-tac-toe board, and monkey bars all in one place?
Come up with the most complicated course possible, which of course must
include going up at least one of the slides, preferably the one that’s a
closed, twisting tube and the fireman’s pole. But don’t forget to slide
back down the pole because how often can you be Batman, old chum? Time
it, or not. Children wouldn’t time it, they would either all go at once
or use their highly developed internal clocks to decide that they
themselves were definitely the fastest because nuh uh, I was, duh,
you’re mean, I’m telling mom.
allow for infinite variety of course and options, making you use
different muscles in different ways all the time. You’ll also remember
just how hot those plastic slides get on your bottom. How was that ever
of these things will get you ready for any real race. Even a 5k takes
more training than daily Tag. But when the routine begins to grind you
down and your energy is flagging, make training fun. Like a nanny I once
had told me, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of
fun. Find the fun and snap, the job’s a game.”
Play hard. Watch out for lava.