How a Playful Mindset Can Keep You Fit

Channel your inner child and you’ll take your fitness routine to the next level. The added benefit? A positive state of mind.


Photo by: Caiaimage/Martin Baurraud

Caiaimage/Martin Baurraud

When you’re a kid, you stay fit without even thinking about it. Turns out a playful mindset could be the key to staying fit. That’s why trainers are channeling their inner child when it comes to developing programs for their clients, incorporating kid-like activities like rebounding (think trampoline), jump roping and rock climbing.

“I remember as a kid, whether you lived in a city and walked to school or grew up in the suburbs and climbed trees, you were active without even realizing it,” explains Fayth Caruso, master rebounder trainer for Bellicon fitness equipment, who says activity was once built into our day and that the same playful mindset can be applied to adult fitness routines. “It’s more motivating to do a workout that’s fun. It also promotes endorphins in the body, which makes us feel happier,” says Caruso, who played on her friend’s trampoline growing up. “That brief moment of flight, defying gravity and weightlessness made me feel almost super human! Who doesn’t want to feel that?”

Bringing play back into a workout like rebounding can benefit adults on both a physical and psychological level. “Rebounding is good for the lymphatic system, which runs north and south in the body, which a bouncing motion stimulates, helping rid our body of toxins and waste,” explains Caruso. “It’s also easy on the joints, builds bone density, stimulates blood flow, improves digestions, increases cardiovascular endurance and improves balance and coordination — all important to keep us living healthier longer.”

Jumping rope —a challenging full-body workout that burns about the same amount of calories as an 8-minute mile run in just 10 minutes — has similar benefits. “My father was a professional boxer,” says Louie Antonio Antuna, an NASM CPT, behavioral change and fitness nutrition specialist. “He taught me how to jump rope at an early age. I remember when I won a jump rope contest in 4 th grade. I was hooked.”

The fundamental ingredient to jump roping? Timing. “Being able to move your upper body to whip the rope and repeatedly, successfully jumping over it requires the mind and body to be in sync. If your mind is elsewhere, you’re going to mess up,” explains Antuna. "Jump roping promotes a positive state of being because there’s a huge sense of accomplishment.” As a kid our mobility, flexibility and over all athleticism are all non-issues. As adults we have more limitations due to weight gain, lack of mobility and possibly strength.

Randi Alegre, director of coaching at The Cliffs Climbing and Fitness, believes having a good balance of play in a workout routine keeps things fun. “Play means creating games, which keeps exercise from becoming mundane and prevents burnout.” As a coach in a climbing gym, Alegre sees every level climber from kids and professionals to couples on date night. “Kids tend to be fearless and more focused, and they also have an incredible strength to weight ratio—all of which most adults need to train hard to develop.”

Without a doubt, fitness should be fun. If you dread what’s ahead, you’ll lack not only effort, but consistency. “Physical and mental stimulation promote a positive emotional response,” Antuna reminds us. “And we can all benefit from positive re-enforcement.”

Here are some tips to get started with these fun fitness routines.

Basic Tips for Beginners
  1. Don’t be shy about using a support hand bar.
  2. Start bouncing first with your feet on the mat.
  3. Just bounce! Don’t underestimate the health benefits of just bouncing.
  4. Turn up the beat: Music is very motivating when bouncing, so put on your favorite 
playlist to get you moving.
  5. Don’t set too many expectations. Start bouncing just 5 minutes per day, then set 
attainable goals.
Beginner Rebounding Workout
  1. Step on your rebounder and find your best posture and alignment
  2. See if you can balance with 1 foot off the mat, then try the other side
  3. Begin a light bounce with your feet on the mat
  4. Add some shoulder rolls back to wash away the stress of your day
  5. Reach your arms to the side and begin tiny pumps up and down until your feet lift 
off the mat
  6. Take a twisting bounce (detoxes the spine, good for the core)
  7. Take an open/cross bounce (good for the inner thighs and leaning the legs!)
  8. Finish up with a light jog and then begin to come back to the light bounce with your feet on the mat
Jump Roping
Basic Tips for Beginners
  1. Use a slow rope to start (they’re usually heavier).

2. Keep your elbows in tight.

3. Your shoulders will move, but most of the action should be from the wrist.

  1. When you jump, you should be just an inch or two from the floor. Land on your toes and jump back up as soon as they touch the ground.
  2. Start off by trying for 10 turns at a time. Then as you get better, bump up your minutes incrementally.
Beginner Jump Roping Workout
  1. Make 20 turns with the jump rope.

2. Do 10 squats.

  1. Do 10 push-ups.
  2. Repeat this sequence 5 times.
Basic Tips for Beginners
  1. Breath when you climb. Everyone forgets.
  2. Develop good technique. Your body will thank you later.
  3. Don't give up willingly. There's more in you than you know.
  4. Stay patient. Muscles get strong fast, tendons and ligaments not as much.
  5. Try not to chase climbing route grades. Rather, focus on the quality of effort.
  6. Stay cool and supportive. It's the vibe.

Next Up

How to Keep Cookies Soft

Plus, how to revive cookies that have turned hard (yep, it's possible).

How to Keep Kosher on a Budget

Yes, you can stick to dietary standards without breaking the bank — just follow the lead of these kosher chefs.

No-Lettuce Salads That Keep You Full

You won't find a leaf of lettuce in these hearty and satisfying salads.

8 Chicken Dinners That Are Fit for Fall

Add a bit of fall flair to your chicken with recipes featuring apples, pears and more seasonal produce.

5 Valentine’s Day Recipes That Fit Every Celebration

Say "I love you" with an extra-special homemade treat.

6 Cupcake Decorating Ideas to Keep Your Kids Entertained

And, why not give your kitchen a little spring cleaning while you’re at it?

Awesome Ways to Keep Kids Busy During the Holidays

These projects won't make YOU nuts either. Promise.

How to Keep Tortillas Warm for a Taco Bar

It may just take a dish towel.

Salt & Straw Makes Ice Cream Fit for Man’s Best Friends

The company’s new Pup Cups are launching just in time for August 26, National Dog Day.