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Borrow these activities from your childhood for a great workout IRL


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Photo: Getty/Phillip Suddick

#TBT to childhood, when “going for a run” equated to playing tag, and the only upper body workouts we had to worry about were the ones that took place on monkey bars.

Back then, exercise wasn’t something we thought about scheduling into our days, it was something we just did—mostly because it was a lot of fun. We didn’t consider the health benefits, we just ran freely into the wind and had the time of our lives…and just like that two or three hours zoomed by. Fast forward to today, when a 30 minute sweat sesh can feel like an eternity.

“Human beings generally don’t like exercise because it hurts. It’s mundane. It’s boring,” says Steve Uria, founder of New York’s buzziest playground-inspired workout studio, Switch Playground. “But we can make it have a fun factor.”

How, you might ask? By getting the heck outside. “The best way to exercise is anytime you’re having fun but don’t think you’re exercising,” says Uria. So, may we raise a Liquid IV to the top activities from your childhood that also double as workouts. And trust us—they’re even more fun than you remember.

Keep scrolling for the kid-approved exercises that are way fun to do nowadays, too.

Rollerblading lady
Photo: Getty/Tais Policanti

Embrace that blade life

What better way to spend the final days of summer than flying down the West Side Highway the way you did when you were a kid? “Roller Blading is a brilliant lower body workout and it’s a great functional core training,” says Uria. To get the same results inside a studio, try using gliders (or socks over your shoes) to mimic the side-to-side motion.

Hit the jungle gym

Spending a Saturday at the playground doesn’t have to mean sitting around and watching the kids have all the fun. “Jungle gyms are huge in the gym today,” says Uria. “It’s all about upper body strength and functional movements.” Try your hand at the monkey bars (they’re harder than you remember) or just get climbing at an indoor gym or course near you.

Challenge someone to a race

We all know that running makes for a great cardio workout, but why not make it more fun with an added element of competition? “I think races or challenges are an amazing way to exercise,” says Uria. “Human beings do have that competitive streak, and I think that makes people excel and push harder than they normally would in their comfort zone.” Winner buys the first round of kombuchas!

Swimming pool
Photo: Getty/PBNJ Productions

Get in the water

Remember how exhausted you used to be after a rousing round of “Marco, Polo”? Turns out, there was a good reason for that. “I think water’s the number one exercise that children do and don’t realize they’re exercising — It’s the best playground in the world to wear your kid out and make them tired,” says Uria, who notes that the same principle can definitely apply to us grownups. Instead of sipping your rosé poolside, hop in and get treading, or steal some #fitspo from one of these trendy swim team-inspired workouts.

Jump on the trampoline

There’s a reason why trampolines have recently inspired an entire wave of boutique fitness classes: They make for an A+ workout. Bouncing up and down helps get your blood pumping for a daily dose of cardio, and the flexible surface won’t impact your joints the same way jumping up and down on a hardwood floor would. So try bringing some of your favorite floor moves—like jumping jacks, high-knees, or running in place—onto the bounce-pad for more effective results. (Front flips not recommended.)

Get in the swing of things

The jungle gym isn’t the only part of the playground with some serious workout perks. Not only can pumping your legs back and forth on the swing set reportedly burn up to 200 calories an hour, but you can also use the contraption to double as a TRX. Try recreating some of your favorite suspension moves, like pikes, planks, and reverse crunches, and you’ll never want to set foot in an actual gym again.

For more ways to make the best out of the final days of summer, check out some of our favorite ways to stay energized when the temps start creeping past 90. And don’t forget the SPF!

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