How to Have a Total Body Workout at the Playground

Because fitting in fitness on the fly is a necessity when you're a mother.

Amber Burke is a mom with two children and also the regional fitness programming manager with Fitness Connection in Charlotte. When her kids were younger, she led a weekly Stroller Derby with trail and park workouts. Amber understands that time is a valuable commodity for families, and fitting in fitness on the fly is a necessity. Her attitude toward fitness, "Mix it up, use what you have and maximize each opportunity." Here are six exercises she recommends for the playground:

Jumping Pull Ups (use monkey bars)


Muscles worked: cardio and whole back

Jump up and grab the bar with your palms facing down. Use your momentum and your upper body to pull until your chest is to the bar or your chin is above the bar. Squeeze upper body muscle to hold yourself above the bar for 1/1000. Then slowly lower your body by straightening your arms and releasing your grip.

Step Ups (use park bench or picnic table)


Muscles worked: quads and glutes

Place one foot on top of the bench. Lean forward keeping your belly button pulled into your spine and push your body up extending the knee with most of your weight in your heel. Stand all the way up, bringing your other foot to rest lightly on the bench. Lower your body back to the ground with the same foot still on the bench. Control the movement. Perform all repetitions on one leg then switch to the other side or alternate legs.

Step Dips (use park bench)


Muscles worked: triceps

Sit on the edge of a bench with your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Place your hands next to your hips with fingers forward. Slide your butt off the bench. Knees are at 90 degrees. Lower your body toward the ground. Allow your elbows to go straight back and keep your butt as close to the bench as possible. Push back up to starting position with the weight balanced in the heel of the palm. Fully extend the arms and squeeze the triceps to ensure maximum muscle performance. For beginners, keep the knees bent.

Hanging Knee Ups (use a monkey bar)


Muscles worked: core and hip flexors

Grab a bar with your palms facing down and keep your arms straight. Bend the legs at the knee and bring them up to your chest as high as you can. Try to avoid using momentum or swinging. Lower the legs back to full extension slowly. Keep the core engaged by pulling the belly button into the spine during the entire lift.

Modified Push-ups (use grassy area or slide)


Muscles worked: chest and triceps

Get into push-up position with the slide directly in front of you. Keep your legs, glutes and core tight during the entire set.

Hill Jog (find a hill in park)

Muscles Worked: cardio and lower body

Start at the bottom of the hill and walk, jog or run up. Race your kids or time one another.

These exercises can be combined in a circuit or done individually. Beginners may do the circuit twice, aiming for 15-20 repetitions with a controlled pace and rest in between. Intermediate and advanced may do three sets with 15-20 repetitions with a controlled pace and as little rest as possible.

Vanessa Infanzon is a freelance writer, and when she's not chasing her three boys or training for her second half marathon, she writes at