It’s hard not to categorize life, dividing various aspects into separate spheres. For example, there’s work and professional life, and family and personal life. We spend countless hours and energy trying to create more “balance” between the two.
The same is often true with our physical fitness. Exercise gets relegated to its own corner—a gym, perhaps, or maybe a yoga studio—and is something we schedule around our busy lives, sneaking a workout in before or after work or a day chasing the kids.
“If people thought differently about exercise and moved their body through 360 degrees of range of motion as part of daily life, they would be so much healthier,” says Brian Bradley, fitness director for Elev8d Fitness, the new home workout program from the experts of Sonima. Instead, most of us sit for the majority of our day. And when we do exercise—or rather “work out”—many of us default to activities that favor repetitive motions, like running, walking, cycling, and weightlifting. These may be good for boosting cardiovascular fitness, but they’re not so great for putting the body through all of its natural motions.
Elev8d Fitness has a radically different approach. Centered around easy, short routines that tap into eight core movements (over, under, around, sideways, rotation, flexion, extension, and push/pull), Elev8d Fitness encourages the body to move in the way that it was naturally designed to move. When done correctly, these eight core movements help re-align the body, creating total-body functionality and fitness.
Even more, moving this way is fun. It turns out that many of the schoolyard games that we played as kids organically incorporate the eight core movements. These workout games don’t require any special equipment, and they cost you nothing. So grab your friends or recruit your kids and get moving in a playful way. Here goes:
A game that dates back to Roman times, hopscotch is about as simple as it gets. You can draw a series of blocks with sidewalk chalk, or just use sticks or the existing lines and cracks in a sidewalk to create your course. Toss a stone (also called a “lucky”) into one block, then hop/jump on one foot, alternating right and left, skipping over the block where the stone landed. Make it harder by jumping with two feet over several blocks or adding a hopscotch hurdle (i.e., something you have to jump or step over like a brick, log, or tree trunk), using your hands and arms to propel yourself—all of which incorporates the over movement principle in the eight core movements.
Have your friends or kids hold a broomstick or small tree limb chest high, then you know the drill. Do your best to gracefully go under it. To use the core under movement, try doing an Elev8d Side Under or Elev8d Front Under—loading your weight on alternate hip joints to duck under the stick. After each successful limbo round, the stick gets lowered. The one who gets cleanly under the stick at its lowest point wins!
Dizzy Izzy Race
This one was always a camp favorite. The objective is for participants to get so dizzy you can’t run straight, which becomes hilarious, if not dangerous. But the Elev8d Fitness version is a bit tamer (and safer). Make a starting line, then about 10 long strides away, place a golf club or softball bat (a tennis racket or umbrella will also do). You and your opponents line up behind the starting line, then run to the object and place your forehead on the top of it. Sidestep circles around it five times in one direction, then five times in the opposite direction. After the “dizzy” circles, drop the object and run (carefully!) back to the finish line. The movement objective here is around, moving your body in a circular motion. (You can skip the “dizzy” part by beginning in a plank, then circling your feet five times around in each direction, racing to see who does it fastest.)
Crab Walk Relays
This one will get you moving sideways and might also cause side-splitting laughter! If you have four or more people, do this as a relay. If not, just do it as a two- or three-person one-way race. Divide into pairs about 15 feet apart from each other. One partner assumes the crab walk position then shuttles/scurries/crabwalks sideways to the other person, who then takes off back to the original starting position. The first crab to cross the finish line wins!
Bonus points if you have an actual Twister game mat and spinner for this one. If not, improvise using whatever you have on hand in four different colors (bandanas, t-shirts, yard leaves) and two different coins (heads on one = hands, tails= foot; and on the other coin, heads = left, tails = right). Appoint one person the “caller,” who either spins the Twister board or tosses the coins to come up with a color and body part (ex: right hand orange). Then you have to move your right hand to an orange spot. The core movement at work here is rotation. The twistier, the better!
Want to put an instant smile on your face? Try skipping! It’s almost impossible to skip down the sidewalk without feeling childishly joyful. It’s also a terrific exercise, getting your arms pumping and your hips flexing as your knees come high (incorporating the flexion core movement). So challenge a friend to a skipping race, or do a skipping relay across a lawn.
Reverse Tree Climb
Climbing up a tree as an adult can be a little iffy (some things are best left to the kids), but a reverse tree climb is a great way to incorporate some gentle back bending—tapping into the extension core movement. Find a tree or pole (or a wall will do) then with your back to the tree, raise your hands over your head and reach back for the trunk (or wall). Your body will go into a gentle backbend. Challenge your exercise partner to see who can “climb” your hands down the lowest. Go easy if you have neck issues.
Tug of War
A classic! So easy, so fun, and occasionally useful, if you need to settle a score in a playful way. Tug of War is also a wonderful way to tap into the push/pull core movement that engages upper-body strength. Grab a rope (a beach towel or blanket will also do) and make a line in the sand or yard. Line up your team on one side, and pull and tug to your hearts’ delight. The side that successfully pulls the other over the line wins. Domination at its best!