Video Fitness

Playground Training

Mindy Mylrea

Most of the times we associate Mindy Mylrea with tough drill work. She has devoted much of her energy to challenging us with sports oriented workouts. Mindy is also an active advocate of family fitness. She has graciously devoted one of her latest videos to helping us explore interaction with children and has chosen physical fitness as her medium.

This hour-long video is a Jump Inc. production and is divided into two sections. The first concentrates on family interaction through games. The cast includes Mindy's husband, Bruce, two of her sons, Casey and Christopher and a family friend, Molly. In the following section Mindy goes solo as "the parent at the park". As the title implies the set is a real playground...with jungle gym, field and court. The intro music is a carefree instrumental and the lighting and sound are very good.

The first section is filmed at a jungle gym and large field. Mindy's games recruit parental participation and throughout the workout she, Bruce, or both join the kids. Mindy also advocates the importance of playing games a kid decides on with rules they dictate...without parental alteration. Ball play is introduced through foot dribbling drills and simple overhand-underhand throws. To add sensitivity and respect to play Mindy suggests tagging with the pinky finger rather than grabbing or pushing..."because it's more polite." The matriarch of all games, Red Light-Green Light keeps the gang thinking on their feet through timing and response. A fartlek exercise improves each family member's cardio capacity.

She feels it's very important to focus on core basic skills: running, hopping, jumping, skipping and leaping. Mindy has choreographed a little routine that adds such skills through repetition "from the top". It's quite a physical and mental challenge. It ends with a wonderful finale...each person skips in and says to their opposite, "You are the BEST partner!"

Coordination drills of inside-outside-inside jacks challenge Bruce and Casey while Mindy rules! Chris & Casey practice their agility when they toss newspaper to the wind and attempt to catch it on their limbs. There are soccer type kicks through the "goalies" legs and sack races to teach balance and coordination. Then the boys demo some great teambuilding devices: a three-legged sack walk and wheelbarrow pushes with Mom as the wheelbarrow. There are trust circles, human pyramid races, blanket pulls and much much more.

Finally Mindy introduces a game that is good around a campfire...or after you've had a lot of fun activity at the playground and need some quiet time. This is also good in the classroom. Put small household items in a bag and as you let a child draw you say, "I took_____on a trip because..." or "I didn't take______on a trip because..." with the child filling in a spontaneous answer.

It was a delight to see the giggling that became so natural once the camera was forgotten. And admirable that Mindy was able to keep things rolling in the informal setting that she chose.

The kids are at sport practice...now what? That hour can be used for the workout you never have time for! Starting with jungle-gym steps Mindy works the abs & triceps. She moves to a medium-high bar and does assisted pull-ups with legs on the ground. To help prevent our loss of equilibrium and sense of balance, Mindy has us balancing on a groundlevel beam. She encourages the use of bleachers, bars and playground equipment for all her balance, coordination, and strength exercises. On a high bar Mindy demos bent arm hangs and mobility exercises. From this position center and side leg lifts provide challenging core work. Mindy reveals her method of a successful pull-up and follows with a series of dynamic stretches.

Walking and running on a track or field is standard cardio training. Mindy returns to the stairs to provide alternative cardio training and demos a variety of step-ups. She then pauses and discusses the importance of Kegels. Mindy recommends 100 a day and goes through imagery with us.

Teaching kids to run, skip and hop is essential but Mindy stresses that we should do them as well. A court, track or field can provide space for tiptoe and heel walking. She reviews a combo of run-shuffle-runs, back pedals and skips in a 4-corner situation.

For some anaerobic and aerobic activity Mindy jumps over and between imaginary lines. She suggests doing intervals of 30", 45"and 1 minute jumps with recovery in between. With street chalk she arranges Xs on a court for dot drills and euphorically declares, " I can have a good ole time going between my Xs"!

The support of a pole provides perfect alignment for squats and lunges. Her variations are intensified with tempo changes. For lunges she turns her back to the pole and places one heel to its base while lunging out to focus on working the front quadriceps. On the court she performs a variety of walking lunges and high leg lifts, again with tempo changes. With all the space there's room for travelling and Mindy suggests doing all the walking lunge variations from one end of court to the other. Lastly Mindy summarizes her suggestions to provide a whole body workout.

This video provides great ideas for family and classroom play. Day care centers and special needs facilities can also benefit from its guidance. Ball, dice and chalk for this playground training are inexpensive and transportable.

The video ends with a heart-warming statement from Mindy. Her earnestness and solid belief in family awareness is commendable. She presents tips to "make life a balancing act of adventure rather than of chore." She discusses making time for family, whether at meals, boardgames, or walks.. She encourages us to do whatever we do with passion...with life. And finally she insists that we, the caregivers find, savor and protect time for ourselves.

K.T.
Oct 3, 2000



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