Get a workout at the playground

You know your kids burn a lot of energy when you take them to the playground – that’s why you take them after all. They get fresh air, plenty of cardio and strength work and you get some respite. But there’s no reason why you can’t get a work out too.

Exercising at the playground is a great way to fit in your exercise needs while looking after your children without having to fit in gym visits.

As a mum I know what it’s like to have your needs put last, but as a personal trainer I want you to use your time wisely and get your workout done while your kids are playing. They follow our lead so by seeing you exercise they see it’s normal and fun.

Here are five exercises you can do at the playground the next time you go.

Swing Squats

Pushing the swing?

Add a squat to your moves. Get your child started on the swing and in between each push, squat down. Make sure that your back stays straight. You don’t have to squat down to the ground, just get as low as you can comfortably and while remaining stable.

Hold your arms overhead.

Press ups

You don’t have to get on the floor to do press ups. If your local playground has a climbing frame or a playhouse to it you can use that structure to do wall press ups. These are great for beginners but all levels benefit

Stand in front of your wall and lift your arms up to shoulder level. Place your palms against the wall so that they are slightly wider than your shoulders. Your fingertips should be pointing up. Back your feet a couple feet away from the wall so that your elbows are bent as you lean on an angle into the wall.

Don’t arch your back. Arching your back during a chest exercise can put too much pressure on the lower spine and cause injury.

Inhale before beginning the exercise and exhale as you push off the wall until your arms are in an outstretched position with elbows slightly bent. Inhale as you go back to the starting position.

Repeat the move 10 times. As you progress you can gradually work up to 20 or more wall push-ups for increased chest strength. When you are able to complete the exercise with ease using the proper form described, increase the repetitions by five until you can do 20 in a row.

To make it harder take twice the time to do one press up.

If there’s no wall to push up against you can use a bench.

Pull ups

Using an underhand grip, grasp a jungle-gym bar that’s about a metre off the ground. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and extend your legs in front of you until your chest is under the bar.

Place your feet hip-width apart. Pull your chest close to the bar by drawing your elbows alongside your ribs. Straighten arms and repeat. Aim to do five pull-ups. You want to work up to 12 to 15.

Tricep dip

Sit on the edge of a bench and place hands by your hips, fingers forward so that you can hold the edge.

Lift your butt off the seat and walk feet a few steps away from the bench. Bending at elbows, lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the seat of the bench.

Push back up to complete one rep.

Monkey bars

Monkey bars are a real challenge. If you have any weights gloves, or cycling gloves try wearing them so that your skin doesn’t rub on the bars as much.

Grab onto the first set of rungs and move down the bars, alternating one arm at a time on each rung.

If the bars are kid-height, bend knees to lift legs completely off the ground. Move down and back as many times in a row as possible. If you can only do a couple try to increase how far you go with each set and visit.

Here’s a workout you can do at the playground:

  • 20 swing squats
  • 10 wall press ups
  • 5 pull ups
  • 10 tricep dips
  • Monkey bars
  • Repeat three times


This article was written by Alison King, aka The Fit Kiwi. Alison went from being the most overweight kid in her class to four-time Ironman triathlete and multiple marathon finisher. She is a mum and a REPS registered personal trainer and running coach and offers online training.

Find her at

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