graphic of sport silhouettes against a yellow background

I walked by a soccer practice the other day and witnessed a coach yelling at his players. The children seemed to be about 10-12 years old, certainly not yet teenagers. He was pretty demanding, I’d hate to say foaming at the mouth, but it definitely seemed that way. As the coach shouted at his players, he prompted them to do various calisthenics and exercises. I was only walking by so I wasn’t able to take in too much, but in my observation I heard commands such as:

“Give me 20 push ups!”
“That just cost the team 20 squats!”
“You just earned 50 sit ups at the end of practice”

It didn’t matter what the exercise was or the number of repetitions, the look on every child’s face was always the same…pure agony. I have always had a belief that the best way to achieve results, regardless of what aspect of life, is to make the task as enjoyable as possible. The more fun you add to something the less it feels like work and thus more like a game.

With the growing epidemic that is childhood obesity I feel this is more important now than ever. Yes, children need to add exercise to their daily routines. But even more vital is their desire to actually want to exercise. This is the reason I am so passionate about using a “play-based” fitness approach to all of my sessions. Through games and functional activities, exercises can be applied in a multitude of ways. Half the time the children won’t even be aware that they are actually exercising!

What is “play-based” fitness?

“Play-based” fitness is an approach that allows children to have fun while exercising. Rather than the traditional approach, which probably had you run a few laps and then participate in drills that included the aforementioned “drills”, we use play as our foundation to movement. By taking traditional exercises and adding a few simple layers, games and enjoyable activities are created. Through this approach we often sneak in some learning too! By communicating with a teacher and/or parents, we are able to adapt exercising with knowledge based activities.

Game Examples:

Puzzle Race: A Fitevo Puzzle Race is the true combination of a mind and body experience. Teams compete against each other in various challenges. Once a challenge is completed, they receive an envelope. After all challenges are completed, teams open their envelopes and begin solving the puzzle. Puzzles could include trivia questions, brain teasers, and various other types of “outside the box” thinking.

Scavenger Hunt: This isn’t your traditional type of Scavenger Hunt. A perfect program for a Birthday Party, or team event that allows kids to complete both physical and mental challenges, puzzles, and have a whole lot of fun.

LCR: The fun and addictive dice game takes on a whole new twist. Rather than using poker chips or dollar bills to play LCR, children pass along exercise cards. This is an activity sure to spark some laughter as well as some exercise!

These are just a few examples of how the play-based fitness approach can be applied. All of these games give children an opportunity to play and have fun all while exercising!

Scott Wysocki

fitevo-photo Scott Wysocki is the owner of Fitevo.

Scott is available for Homeschool classes on Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

~ Certified youth fitness specialist through the AFPA.

~ Former soccer coach and trainer with the HBC soccer club

~ Graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a degree in Elementary Education

~ Coordinates a supported employment program for adults with learning disabilities.