Family fitness fun

We met an inspiring wonder woman and bundle of positive energy earlier this year in the form of Kisha Wiltshire. Mum, business woman, teacher and Personal Trainer. She immediately struck a chord with us when she talked about the value of enjoying exercise together as a family, rather than each going off doing our own bursts of activity. So we asked her to explain more about why regular exercise is important from a young age (and it’s not simply for the reasons we think) and provide some easy, fun activities for you all to enjoy! And what better time to get started than today World Fitness Day. As you’ll see from the pics she also put us and our little people through our paces, along with her daughter. Here’s Kisha…

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I am a mother of two, Physical Education Teacher and Personal Trainer with many years of experience teaching children in various settings: state primary, secondary, independent pre preparatory and preparatory schools as well as a mix of children and adults within the community. 

I started Criss Cross Active because it became increasingly clear that many children lack basic fundamental skills, coordination and fitness. Some children find physical activity and exercise more of a chore than having fun. 

Being active or engaging in regular exercise helps release more endorphins which elevates our mood, It helps strengthen bones and muscles including the heart which can help reduce the risks of heart diseases such as high cholesterol and coronary artery disease. Regular exercise assists with lowering the blood pressure and can help reduce the risks of developing obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Secure fundamental skills lead to good physical literacy, confidence, improved performance and fewer injuries. 

Research indicates that exercise is also beneficial to cognitive function, being consistently active can have a positive impact on our children's academic achievement. As a Personal Trainer specialising in children’s skills related fitness, I regularly hear parents attribute exercise as a factor contributing to their child’s academic achievements. 

Criss Cross Active aims to get more children and families active by creating a variety of fun and accessible fitness related sessions for all ages and abilities. We focus on learning and development through enjoyment. Fundamental skills are creatively embedded within the activities. When we have fun we are engaged and quickly forget that what we are actually doing is exercise, we begin to enjoy it, we learn from it, we develop! 

I strongly believe active kids do better so I give up my time to the community to lead free weekly sessions: after school ‘Runner Beings’ and weekend ‘Fun & Fitness’ classes.

Being active and exercising together is hugely beneficial, It highlights exercise as a healthy lifestyle choice as apposed to something only children should do or those who are members of sports clubs or gyms. Parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and others are able to inspire family members and lead by example. Children love to show off their skills and receive parents’ attention and praise, I can’t think of a better opportunity than this. Exercising together means quality time for the family, bonding and creating fun memories. Problem solving, team work, listening, communicating and turn taking are all additional tools that can be harnessed through being active together. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. 

With this in mind, I have selected a few activities that can be done indoors and outdoors, in pairs, small groups or large. For those who like more specific or progressive challenges, you can add ability related targets to all of the activities listed. Ensure targets are achievable and remember the importance of praising effort, for some children this is far more important than accomplishing the task itself. 

5 easy activities to do together at home, in the garden or in the local park: 

A) Obstacle Course 

Equipment: 

Stop watch, hula hoop, 1 x bean bag, blanket, 1 x rope, 1 x box 

Task:


1 - Create an obstacle course by placing the equipment listed in a sequential order. 

2 - Take turns to travel through the obstacle course.


3 - Complete the course in the fastest time. 

The course: 
Start the course by running to the hula hoop, step inside and lift hoop up and over, place back on the fl oor.
Hop to the bean bag, balance on your head whilst walking along the rope, throw the bean bag to its original position .
Frog jumps to the blanket, crawl under and out the other en d.
Run towards the box, two feet jump over the box, turn and sprint back (alongside the course) to the start line. 

B) Target ball 

Equipment: 
1 x Tennis ball per person, 20+ cones 

Task:


1 - In pairs roll the ball to each other at varying distances and speeds.


2 - Set up mini targets by placing cones or alternative items in a space.


3 - Roll the ball, from a meter distance away, aiming for the target. Collect and repeat with another target.


4 - Compete to see who can hit the most targets in 60 seconds. 

C) Back Yard Circuit 

Equipment:
Stop watch, cone markers (optional) 

Task:


1 - Set up a space with four areas big enough for each exercise.
Area 1: jumping jacks
Area 2: lateral slides
Area 3: speed bounce
Area 4: scissor jumps


2 - Each person chooses an area to start.


3 - Perform each activity for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, then rotate and repeat until everyone has completed each exercise.


4 - Repeat the circuit three times. 

D) Skipping/ jump rope 

Equipment: 

Skipping ropes 

Task:


1 - Rope on the floor, how many different ways can you get over the rope without touching it? E.g. hop, jump backwards, twist jump, cartwheel.


2 - Skip on the spot. How many skips can you do in a minute?


3 - Skipping races. 

E) Funky relays 

Equipment: Marker 

Task:


1 - Set up a race distance marker. 

2 - Race 1: straight sprint Race 2: frog jumps Race 3: wheel barrow Race 4: hopping Race 5: skipping 

3 - Team races. 

Kate Towers