Recess was my favorite period in school. After lunch (my second favorite period) it was time for the playground and tag. Sprinting, screaming, telling stories of close calls and reviewing the tactical use of home base, escape and pursuit strategies. Red faced, out of breath, and begging for more. It probably only lasted 20 minutes, but it seemed like hours. It was awesome.
Fast forward 20 years and all those energetic kids who used to play tag are bland adults running on a treadmill. When was the last time you screamed (in delight) or told someone an excited story about your 20- to 45-minute moderate pace jog on the treadmill?
How did the greatest part of our day, recess become essentially a hamster wheel?
Most of our day is on auto-pilot. We do the same thing day in, day out and accept that this drudgery is part of growing up or being an adult. We take the routine of our jobs and extend it to our physical fitness. This routine turns into three sets of 10 reps of bench press, curls and tricep extensions. Two weeks of the same thing every day or the moderate three-timers per week is boring. You should enjoy being in shape. Not punching the clock at the gym like it’s factory work.
I’m not saying that running on the treadmill or lifting weights is bad. If you enjoy it keep doing it. But if you remember it being fun as a kid to run around it still can be. It doesn’t have to be complicated (professional trainers like to make it complicated because then you need us). But simple doesn’t mean easy. A simple workout can have you out of breath in 15 minutes.
The local park or green belt is still a great place to have an adult recess. Measure a square 20 meters-by-20 meters and play tag with three friends. Have your own sprint “adventure” race at the park (not all adventure races have to be 5K or over and have flames to jump through). Most of the obstacles will be within 50 meters of each other. Sprint, crawl, crab walk, hop and lunge in between them. Use the top of a bench as a balance beam, go over, under and through picnic tables. Belly crawl in the grass, go around the same pole three times in different directions before you go to the next obstacle. Ask what is the hardest way to get around something. Find heavy things and move them around. Play Frisbee golf and sprint to your Frisbee every time. Heck, play “Duck, Duck Goose.” Don’t worry about what other people at the park think, they don’t think that often anyway. Worse thing that can happen is they call the police because someone is crazy and trying to have fun. On the other hand, maybe they join you.
If you still feel the overwhelming need to do something formal at the end of playing or when your friends can’t join you, squats, push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. Do as many as you can and then do it three or five more times with three fewer repetitions every round.
Have fun. You should be having some.
Resident Jake Parent is with Tribal Crossfit, 6170 W. Chandler Blvd. Reach him at (602) 492-7348.