Iwas running behind Babyjaan, kicking my heels into my glutes, firm grip on the push handle of her red and blue tricycle, in the circular courtyard of our new apartment complex in Bangalore, when it hit me: I could create a Playground Workout for new mothers who are, overnight, playing at Boss Level difficulty in the game of life.
My pitch: As the initial shock of a new parent subsides, you begin to notice that your body hasn’t gone back to BB (before baby). But this is the most challenging expedition you’ve ever embarked on, right? Between going back to work, tracking those fast depleting infant supplies, introducing baby to solids (then cleaning up those solids) and ensuring she gets enough exercise in the park every day (even the British government said earlier this week that babies need daily exercise), there’s no time to schedule a monthly pedicure, forget a daily workout.
I thought the Playground Workout was bound to help you (and make me millions). It was an idea that went beyond the global stroller fitness phenomenon to include the swing, slide, see-saw and jungle gym. Alas when I googled my idea, I found that the cult of playground-worshipping parents far exceeds the number of Baba Ramdev’s followers. I even encountered Swingworkouts.com, a website that promotes three books written on the subject.
Even so, the next time you take your baby to the park, set her down on the grass and work your abs/stretch your back lying besides her (unless you live in Bangalore where stern signs in all the neighbourhood parks steer you away from “destroying” the grass). The difficulty level of these exercises automatically increases when baby decides it’s fun to jump on you.
Eureka! Even busy mothers frequent this gym. Thinkstock
I started by just playing with Babyjaan—trying to crawl as fast as she does, ducking behind furniture ever so often, springing up to surprise her, ducking again. You can crawl jungle style if you raise your knees parallel to the ground and move on your toes, but your predator pose might scare away baby. One online health website says crawling is great for a flexible back, but not that hot if you have a stiff neck.
If you can’t crawl, just play Ringa Ringa Roses for more than 10 minutes with your repetition-loving baby—it’s a killer exercise, especially if you squat low instead of falling down.
Squats are brilliant when baby is perched on jungle gym or the see-saw too; the slide works out your upper body and your sides as you heave baby up and guide her rush down; and the swing can target all muscle groups, according to the website listed above. I use it merely to strengthen my calves and to stretch my legs.
Baby’s ball has its own set of exercise opportunities. You could try the Frog Hop. Stand with the ball between your feet, jump gripping the ball with your feet, and spreading your knees outward like a frog. At the top of your jump, throw the ball with your feet and catch it with your hands. Okay, okay, just play solo football and kick the ball to her every once in a while. Don’t have so much fun that you forget she’s the reason you rediscovered the playground in the first place.
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