Five fitness games to incorporate with your kids!

On Sunday night Coach Kendra hosts Kid/Parent Urban Adventure Training. Classes include intervals of cardio and strength appropriate for ages 5 - 12 years old!

On Sunday night Coach Kendra teaches Kid/Parent Urban Adventure Training at Wilcox Park in Grand Rapids. Classes include intervals of cardio and strength appropriate for ages 5 – 12 years old! Sign up at under “mindbody” to reserve your spot!

There never is a dull moment, especially when you are a parent. No matter the stage of your children, you are constantly preparing dinners, doing laundry, taxiing them from one event to the next, helping with homework and the list goes on. To fit exercise in on TOP of all this can feel a bit daunting. For most parents, we don’t have the extra time to get to the gym. Instead of making it be an excuse, consider doing your exercise program WITH your kids. Yes, I said it and will say it again…..workout with your kids! No matter the age of your children, the most valuable gift you can give them is the gift of time. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be planned out, just get outside and start moving!

Every summer we run a FREE Family Bootcamp at Wilcox Park in Eastown. All you have to do is sign up on Mindbody. The kids range anywhere from 5 – 12 years old it is always a blast! It’s been scorching hot out but that hasn’t stopped us from having fun! I wanted to share five of my favorite workout games so you too can get your kids outdoors and enjoy these last few weeks of summer.


*Extreme Duck-Duck Goose: Yes, extreme means more movement, so here’s how it works! Everyone stands in a large circle, facing outside. The person who is “it” goes around the circle and taps everyone’s head, saying “DUCK”. When you get tagged, you can make that person do 5 squats (or 5 push-ups). When they choose the “GOOSE”, the person who is tagged will run in the opposite direction as the person who tagged them, rushing to see who can get to the open spot faster. To make it even more extreme, have everyone hold a plank position until they get tagged!

*Hungry Hungry Hippos: Who doesn’t love this loud and obnoxious game? Best if run in a large open space/backyard and you just need 5 small buckets and 20-40 small balls. Set the bucket with all the balls in the center of the field and divide the family into 4 equal teams. (If you have a smaller family, just do 2-3 teams). Make sure the distance between the teams and the center bucket is equal. When the game starts, the first person on each team sprints to the bucket, takes out 1 ball, and brings it back to their home base (bucket). The game keeps playing until all the balls are gone; the team with the most balls wins! Talk about some cardio competition!

*Blob Tag: By far, the most popular game requested by kids this summer! This is a great game to do at the park, at the beach or in your backyard! (But you definitely want to invite the neighbor kids over!) Groups of two link arms to become “one” unit. The team that is “IT” tries to tag all the other groups. When a group gets tagged, they must link arms with the “IT” and continues to grow into a “blob”. This is a fun game to teach teamwork and communication!

*Animal Pentathlon: This game can be played indoors or outside, you just need to be creative!

Choose 4-5 animal moves and create a relay-race style event, where each kid must complete all 5 moves and run back to the starting line first. Depending on the age of your children, you can have them do a smaller number of reps or added rounds to complete. For example, older kids could do this 3-4 rounds through, from start to finish. Here are five animal moves you can use at home: bear crawl, crabwalk, donkey kicks, gorilla walks and penguin waddles are just a few ideas to try!

*Summer Olympics: This is a great game to play year round, indoors or outdoors! Plus, if your kids are competitive, this is a great way to rally up the energy. Come up with 4-5 stations…long jump, hurdles, sprints, dribbling, shooting/passing, anything works! Have each child choose a country to represent and then have them go through each station at least once to practice. For the next round, kids are competing to see who is the fastest or who can get the most reps in over a period of time. Feel free to add basic movements in, such as push-ups, crunches on the stability ball or bicep curls. At the end, have a final awards ceremony for the team that earns GOLD!

As parents, one of the most critical roles is to instill healthy habits with our children. This means anything from serving vegetables at every meal (the colored kind), rewarding behavior with non-food options, setting healthy technology boundaries or getting our kids to exercise. Plus, it’s a way for YOU to be healthy and lead by example….the best form of learning there is!

Try out these workouts soon and let us know how they went!

Picky Eaters: A Parent’s Dilemma

Dealing with a picky eater can be at the top of the list for most frustrating fights as a parent. As someone who has made health and wellness their life, this was a challenge I did not see coming.  Convincing a grown adult that junk food is bad for them is tough, but trying to get my kids to eat well can be even more of a challenge. Having a 4 and 2 year old has opened my eyes to a whole new world of food challenges.   Here are some important lessons I’ve learned, which should help you guide your kids to eat better.

Make a schedule. Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids.  If you plan for these, your child’s diet will be much more balanced. In turn, they will be less cranky because they won’t be famished.  Always have snacks with you!  I keep a cooler in the car when we are out and keep things like carrots, yogurt and water so we don’t have to rely on fast food.

Plan dinners.  If thinking about a weekly menu is too daunting, start with two or three days at a time.  A good dinner doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be balanced.

Don’t become a short order cook.  This is the one thing I took a stand on before I had kids because I saw how exhausting it was on other parents.  I prepare one meal for everybody.  Children often mimic their parents’ behavior, so one of these days, they’ll eat most of the food I serve them. Remember, most picky eaters are made, not born.

Bite your tongue.  As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating.  Be as neutral as possible.  Remember, you’ve done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals; your kids are responsible for eating them.  If you play food enforcer- saying things like “Eat your vegetables or you can’t leave the table” – your child will only resist.

Introduce new foods slowly.  Children are new-food phobic by nature.  I tell my kids that their taste buds sometimes have to get used to a flavor before they’ll like the taste.  A little hero worship can work wonders too.  My son refused to eat broccoli until I told him that hockey players always eat their broccoli because it helps them skate faster…he certainly eats his broccoli now!

Dip it.  If your kids won’t eat vegetables, experiment with dips.  My kids love hummus, salsa and yogurt-based dressings.

Make mornings count.  This is where that meal planning comes in handy.  Mornings can be crazy. If you prepare a big batch of breakfast burritos on the weekend and freeze them, you have breakfast for the whole week.  It’s delicious, nutritious and easy.

Get kids cooking.  If your children become involved in choosing or preparing meals, they’ll be more interested in eating what they’ve created.  Take them to the store and let them choose produce for you.  If they’re old enough, allow them to help cut up vegetables and fruit.

Cut back on junk.  Remember, you, not your kids, are in charge of the foods that enter the house.  By having fewer junk foods around, you’ll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Allow treats.  Having less healthy foods occasionally keeps them from becoming forbidden-and thus more appealing.  We call candy, juice, and cookies “sometimes” foods.  I generally don’t buy cereal, but I let my kids have it when we visit family and they know it’s a treat.

Have fun.  The more creative the meal is, the greater the variety of foods my kids eat.  We make smiley face pancakes and give foods silly names.  Anything mini is always a hit too.

Be a role model.  If you’re constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is normal.  Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you’re sending.  Trust your body to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full and your kids will learn to do the same.

Adjust your attitude.  Realize that what your kids eat over time is what matters.  Having popcorn at the movies or eating an ice cream sundae are some of life’s real pleasures.  As long as you balance these times with smart food choices and physical activity, your children will be fine.

Best of luck,

Coach Amanda O.

Children on the Biggest Loser: Inspiration or Exploitation?

“The Biggest Loser” is back for another season of inspirational stories and remarkable body transformations coupled with the fiery coaching of none other than Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dolvett Quince. This edition provides us with an additional highlight: childhood obesity. Three children will be present in various episodes throughout the season, helping with challenges and performing workouts of their own.

It is no secret that childhood obesity is a serious problem. In fact, nearly 32% of children and adolescents in this country are overweight or obese. It makes sense, then, to tackle such an issue that is plaguing almost 1/3 of the American youth. “The Biggest Loser” claims to be doing just that: highlighting the issue and providing ideas and strategies to stimulate change. This sounds great, and could very well encourage positive gains in the health conditions of children nation-wide.

But hold the phone a moment. Is a reality television program really the best way to attack this problem? Sure, the kids will most likely receive excellent advice and have an awesome experience, but are they the ones who gain something? Adding children to a show that is already built around pulling the viewers’ heart strings must be good for ratings and increased viewership. The possibility exists that children will become normal participants on the program; what’s to stop NBC from exploiting their presence for an improved image and continued positive responses in viewer numbers? Those viewers undoubtedly include children, and what are they doing? Staring at that oh-so-captivating box, sedentary, instead of spending that time doing what they see those kids on TV doing: moving, discovering, LIVING.

My goal is not to be the ultimate cynic, nor do I loathe “The Biggest Loser”. However, if childhood obesity is to be truly overcome, it needs to happen through cultural change. The problem with advocating active and healthy lives via reality television is that we still end up sitting in front of a screen, inactive. Our children follow suit. I believe there is too much reliance on television as an educational source, and “The Biggest Loser” doesn’t help to move things in another direction.

As long as the television – whether in the traditional sense or from some other media device – is our main source of entertainment, children won’t be moving, and neither will their weight.