You know an awful lot about my daughter who has Down syndrome and have shared in some of her struggles and have watched many of her successes. What I do not usually talk about is me and don't worry, I won't bore you with that now, but I do want to share this one thing. A few years ago I finally reached my weight loss goal! That's right, from my highest weight I lost a total of 63 pounds and I have now kept it off for about 3 years. Even though I have managed to keep the weight off I still struggle with getting enough exercise. Therefore, when I was afforded the opportunity to review Family Time Fitness I thought, "how perfect!" Usually I have to find time before or after "school" for my workout, but not anymore. Now my daughter and I are both getting the exercise we need while spending some quality time together as well. What could be better!?
Gesserine actually loves exercising way more than I do so we were both anxious get started when the Fitness 4 Homeschool curriculum arrived.
They offer instructions for the parent/teacher on exactly how to preform each exercise but there are also video illustrations available for all of them which really helps! (I am not really good at reading instructions for these types of activities. I do much better following an actual example.) The program is structured so that you can do this 5 days a week all year round and there is plenty of variety so it never gets boring or old. While some of these activities require equipment it's generally things any household with children will already have and if you don't have them you will find they are inexpensive or can be substituted easily. Here is their recommended equipment list.
Bean Bags - An alternative to store bought bean bags could be tennis balls, any small ball, or even as simple as a pair of socks in a ball shape. (We used small bean bag animals.)
Jump Rope - An alternative to a store bought rope could be a project to use your own rope, and then you can make handles out of duct tape or electrical tape.
Hula Hoops (s) - Unfortunately there is no real alternative for a hula hoop. These can generally be picked up at a store for under $10 (We paid $3 for ours!)
Playground Balls - Alternatives for this can be a basketball, soccer ball, or volleyball (We never have a shortage of balls around here.)
Foam Balls – One option for indoor play is to use Foam Balls or a blow up beach ball
Cones - Alternative can be a box, a bucket, or even a rock
Measuring Tape - These can be bought for as little as $5 (My hubby had one.)
Stop Watch - You can use your watch, possibly your cell phone, or you can buy one at the store.
Exercise Mat- This is optional and each individual needs to assess the area in which they will be doing the activity to determine the need for this item.
You start your Family Time Fitness program by taking an assessment and measuring your child's ability in several activities such as jumping distances, squats, sit ups, push ups, and others. This evaluation is done twice every 6-8 weeks. After the initial assessment you are ready to begin.
Each lesson has basically the same structure. It begins by listing what skills are taught, what equipment is needed and what the suggested recovery times are. Then you have a Warm Up, Activity / Game Time, Cool Down and Outdoor Activity. This should give you 25-45 minutes of exercise before the Outdoor Activity which adds an additional 15-30 minutes for a total of at least 60 minutes per day. They actually recommend a lot of these be done outdoors but we mostly stayed inside because of the severe heat we had during the review.
At first I was worried these exercises would be too childish and wouldn't give me the quality workout I needed for my personal goals but I also realized that any additional exercise was better than nothing. It turned out that I had nothing to worry about. After just one day I can assure you my muscles were certainly noticing they were being worked again! It really had been too long since I had done a full workout! Sure, I would walk a little, or do simple things, but nothing that worked out all my muscle groups which is one thing I love about this program. It gives you a full body workout each and every day.
Because this is a curriculum geared towards children some of the titles and activities are named to draw their interest. You have the Monster Walk, Lion Pose, Popcorn, Superman, Rocking Horse Series and so on. But before you start wondering just how silly those things look remember, you are exercising and you look no more or less silly than you would doing any other exercise routine. Besides, most of us homeschool moms quit worrying about silly a long time ago! As I mentioned before, you really will increase your heart rate up and work your muscles if you follow the plan. If you doubt me then try these Ankle Alphabets a time or two. Yeah, that's right. Ankle Alphabet sounds so simple, so childish and even mundane, but do it, I dare you!
Ankle Alphabet - Sit on the ground. Raise your right leg off the ground, and draw the alphabet with your right foot. Do the same thing with your left foot.
That's right. Draw all 26 letters of the alphabet! No simple twist your ankle for a count of 10. Nope! Draw 26 complete letters. Man my calves were feeling it the next day! But remember, that's what we want! It's good to use your body and work out those areas that get neglected.
The program is actually geared for grades K-8 (not us parents) and they did a really good job making it fun for them. Gess absolutely loved it. I think it's a great way to instill healthy exercise habits and make sure your child (and everyone else in your family) is getting the exercise they need. It's also a great way to make sure that we are spending some "fun" time together. We can get so bogged down with school, chores, activities and so forth sometimes we just don't get enough family fun in. This is one way to assure that you do. We won't get these years back, so instead of just sitting on the side lines while your child plays, this allows you to get right on in there with all of them! There were times when Gess didn't want it to end and asked me to "play" more. I really love that! Here are a few examples of Gess participating in Family Time Fitness.
Frog Squats were fun!
How about some Hula?
Gess was even better at using the Hula Hoop than I was! Actually you use the Hula Hoop for lots of things. Sometimes you held it while doing some squats and other times you might dribble a ball in it. There was one we liked where you would stand inside of it and then lift it over your head, then place it on the floor in front of you, step in it and start over again. You would do this back and forth across the room. They call this Hula Hoop Walks.
There were lots of things to do with balls as well. We loved Freezemania where you toss the ball back and forth and after 10 complete catches race to do jumping jacks. Here Gess is playing Partner Turn and Pass with me.
Family Time Fitness is an actual full fledged PE Curriculum and is really about good health. I think the activities are well rounded, provide a good overall full body workout and are explained and demonstrated well to make sure that your family does them safely and correctly. They provide detail explanations with each lesson but also have 1 page summaries to make it easier to print up and take out with you. Besides the assessment instructions and charts there are also several extra tools available such as an activity tracking calendar for each month, meal planner, grocery list, daily food diary and nutrition log. That way your family can work on eating right, not just exercise.
The Fitness for Homeschool Core 1 Curriculum for grades K-8 sells for $57 and comes with lifetime access to program updates and revisions. That's pretty good considering a gym membership costs a whole lot more and while some of the exercises may seem sillier than your typical workout video (where you do the same routine over and over and over again) these are actually more fun and give your body the same benefit. If as a parent you don't want to stick your tongue out and roar like a lion doing the Lion Pose, I understand but when you look over at your kids doing it and enjoying it, remember that's what this is really all about. If you want to learn more about Family Time Fitness visit their website or why not see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.