Game On: Skip the Gym and Hit the Playground!

by Joel Matalon on 02/24/2012

Let’s face it. If you’re a parent, then there will be days when there truly is NO time in your hectic schedule for some exercise. Well, there are great parks and playgrounds in just about every community in this country, so if you have children who still enjoy going to the playground, why not use the resources that are already available to you? Game On!  You DO have time for a workout!

This past weekend I took my girlfriend’s son to the park with his scooter. We arrived to find about eight other kids who also had their scooters in tow. Within minutes, I had organized relay scooter races, short distance scooter races, as well as laps around the big loop. These kids were working out…and hard…but they were also having fun! Since I wanted to get a workout in too, I ran alongside the slowest scooter operator, and as I cheered her on, I wound up getting my daily cardio in!  How’s that for multi-tasking?

After that, we used the park’s jungle gym to host a little friendly competition to see who could hang the longest. Our exercise-in-disguise was drawing a lot of positive attention from other parents, and an enthusiastic cheering section soon assembled. So, I wrapped up our outing with the gold standard of playground activities: sprint and relay running races! I can still hear the kids’ voices in my head, shouting, “I want to go again!” “I won! I won!” And, “When can you come back, mister?”

Keep in mind, as important as it is to help you kids get up and get moving, I participated in these activities, too. In fact, many of the adults who were sitting on the benches watching the children play wound up joining in the relay races. While the kids ran themselves into the ground, laughing and wanting to go again and again, I made sure everyone stayed hydrated and didn’t over exert themselves, and we all got in a healthy dose of cardio activity. And we played until the sunlight faded.

Make the most of your local playground by not just using it to watch your kids play. Get some exercise in, too. And while you’re at it, why not create your own neighborhood network, too, by inviting other parents and their children to join you?  You’ll be creating a real sense of fun and community, and doing something good for absolutely everyone involved.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

zevi March 28, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Thank you joel.
I am inspired to take my two little ones to Prospect park and run around. It is time for me to reconnect with my kids by playing with them where they choose to do it. YUMMY!


joel matalon March 28, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Hey fitness and fun is for everybody!!! Keep following my articles for innovative idea’s on family fitness!


Elissa Hyman March 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Wow, what a wonderful idea…everybody benefits, the kids have a great time, get exercise in a fun way and the adults get cardio in as well as quality time with the children. It’s a win win all around! The kids win, the “adults” win and the community wins!!!!


g March 29, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Joel, great article and love the image. Will be sharing on FB with my pals, esp those who have kids!


Julia March 29, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Great article Joel and very important work!


manik March 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Great idea. It sounds a a good workout, and even better, a LOT of fun!


Scott Cohen March 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Nice piece it resonates well for its spirit, comraderie and fun amongst kiddies and bigger kiddies but i’d offer more “body” to it or more descriptive text as to how you can utilize the jungle gyms, the types of bodyweight movements you can do



joh March 29, 2012 at 11:22 AM

I don’t have any kids (yet) but love playing playground games. Learnt how to hula hoop 2 years ago and you can carry that to the park anywhere.
Took about 6 months to get the hang of it, so don’t give up…the kids love it and so will your waist line.


John March 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Truly inspirational. I can believe that this really happened because you are truly a enthusiastic person. Keep your spirit alive…


Carla Smith March 29, 2012 at 12:57 PM


So inspiring and really a great way to share your life with children any time and any where! Look forward to the next article!


loren March 29, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Hi Joel,
I really liked the playfulness idea.
Do you ever come to NY playgrounds to help parents get a break?



celeste desrosiers March 29, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Its so great that you are sharing your enthusiasm with every-one for fitness! and yes, its so important to keep children active. We tend to get so wrapped up in our list of “things to do” that we find ourselves putting our children in front of t.v’s mac’s etc. so that we can get things done or simply have a break. or! we put ourselves infront of t.v. and macs etc. to have a break… its wierd but when i am tired the last thing i want to do is be active and oddly enough when I jump out of my excuses to “rest” I feel so much more energized after excersise and fresh air! Thank you for holding the torch and cheering us all on to get our heart rates up! :)

looking forward to your next article


audrey rogers March 29, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Great idea. Now that the spring is here I’m hoping for some great opportunities to make the most of the park. Thx!


Vince Vaccaro March 30, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Nice article.


work-out anywhere dot com March 30, 2012 at 8:52 PM

Thank you Joel, so much, for reminding me of how it is so easy to integrate a workout into almost any environment. Just the other day, i started doing chin-ups off the scaffolding around a building, followed up by some lunges while doing laundry, and i’m currently doing a sit-up with my feet in a sewage drain.

Ok, i’m off to do some yoga while tying my shoes.


Lila March 30, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Great to see how lil’ joe’s “in-JOEL-nuity” brings fitness and fun to family and friends, just as you bring it to KismetBliss, with your Chi-Camp, on Fire Island. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!


Glenn and Ligia Rodriguez March 31, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Great job offering a win-win situation for both parents and children, Joel!  As a new parent, I am already creating ways to combine “daddy time” with “baby time”.  Your ideas are helpful!

Glenn Rodriguez, Owner/Director

Grapplin’ Gorillas


Loren Lockwood May 7, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Fantastic & inspiring Joel!
I also love how much fun you had with it!!!!


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