Play Like a Kid

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As a sportscaster, I often talk to athletes about their workout routines. The pros do everything from weights and cardio to Pilates and circuit training. But the toughest workouts I’ve seen are the ones perfected by the under 5 crowd. I know it’s a bit strange, but my wife, Charisse, and I have come to the conclusion that playing like a kid will give you a really rigorous workout.

Last week, I chased my 4-year-old daughter, Sage, up and down a slide for 15 minutes. I felt like I had played 60 minutes of pick-up basketball. I’ve taken part in the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge, and it’s intense, but I’ll challenge any of those over-the-wall guys to keep up with Sage when she’s biking around Freedom Park. For that matter, I’ll extend it to crawling around the hardwood floor with my 1-year-old son, Brayden. It’s a lower body endurance drill the Tour de France cyclists would envy.

The Panthers perfect their pecs in the weight room, but I get a similar workout pushing two kids on swings at the same time for an hour straight. To strengthen shoulders, I suggest hoisting a 4-year-old who wants to take a ride atop Daddy onto said dad’s shoulders, or carrying a tired 27-pound toddler. I’m often amazed at how Sage can run around a playground, bike for an hour, crawl through tunnels, kick a ball, play catch and still have endless energy.

Then there’s the jumping. Somehow my kids can jump on a bed, in an Exersaucer, or at Monkey Joe’s for hours on end. I tried it once and had to stop. Thank goodness the bed broke, but if it hadn’t I probably would have run out of steam. Just give the Bobcats an hour a day in one of those things and I’ll bet their dunks would improve tremendously.

Climbing is another feat Sage has mastered. Kids scale rock walls, mount monkey bars and catapult up countless contraptions that would leave most adults breathless. Put the Yankees on a circuit through any playground and I bet it would quicken their reaction and running times.

Brayden can barely walk, but he can crawl around the floor in record speed. Try it. It takes every muscle in your body. Brayden’s knees are often scraped from pulling himself around, but he keeps on truckin’. Every athlete should have that physical and mental toughness. Kids push their bodies to the limit every day and don’t complain about it or try to take the easy way out. They play through the pain. There’s a lesson in there for us adults.

So forget the fancy gym memberships and workout fads. If you want to get fit, follow the examples of your kid. Just play like a kid. It’ll make you a champion on the field and at home.

Bruce Snyder is the sports director at Fox Charlotte. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Charisse; daughter, Sage; and son, Brayden