New year new moves – 2017’s No.1 fitness gadget for Manchester parents

Any resolutions this year? Dusting off the old exercise equipment or splashing out on a new bit of kit? Perhaps a decent health club membership (with crèche provision) will solve your ‘mum/dad being more active’ conundrum?

For me, I’ve found that I have something really quite high tech under my nose all along. Something that regularly progresses and develops to avoid a lull or stale routine, something that I can always find time for in my day, and the most important bit – something which it is impossible to ignore or put on eBay come February.

What is this wondrous invention?

Clue: mine’s persistent, full of energy, has 4 limbs, and causes me to have pangs of guilt if I’m enjoying lots of activity without him (also has a second built in operant conditioning system to prompt activity by bouncing off the walls when he doesn’t get enough movement). Theres a reason they call them offspring.


“But I would’ve  done a triathlon/become a yogi/took up crossfit by now if it wasn’t for those pesky kids!” – I can’t promise you an ironman, but I can invite you to consider the opportunity inherent in these balls of energy and how to fashion a realistic, individual way to put them to good use for sustainable fitness and time well spent.

Consider this if you want to increase your activity – the greatest proportion of energy expenditure comes primarily from automatic physiological upkeep processes (the Basal Metabolic Rate) and thermic effect of digesting food, then the next biggest chunk is from Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT; not structured exercise). Even good old fashioned fidgeting is a major boost to metabolism. So you’re much better off being generally active in your day-to-day setting than being sedentary all day then squeezing in a quick gym session.

Programme your kids to enjoy all this NEAT activity and voila – you just signed up to live with Mr Motivator.

Without further ado, here’s a list of low-cost ways to make your minime(s) your best new health gadget of 2017:


Where, when & how much:

Platt Fields BMX park in Fallowfield. 11am on a Sunday in Summer, about £5.50 with bike hire or the Velodrome in winter.


Have you ever seen their legs? One heck of a quad workout that also uses the upper body. Great fun once you get the hang of it and manage to propel yourself over the peaks/troughs using this weird momentum thing with your arms. Loved by all ages although maybe not so much for tiny ones. The instructor is very welcoming for all abilities.


Where, when & how much:

Thursdays 7-8pm in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, £5-10 with the long established Cordão De Ouro Capoeira.


I haven’t tried this yet but I know adults & kids train together. Its a cross between martial arts and dance from Brazil that challenges all types of fitness and according to some sources can help transform ADHD into movement expression and experimentation. Sign me up immediately.


Where, when & how much:

Fighting Fit, Sundays 3-5pm, about £6-7.50 each.


Expect a pretty intense ‘warm up’ that involves a short blast of cardio, some functional movements (like crab walking, prowling) and some fundamental strength and endurance. The rest of the lesson is based around practising ninja fighting and defence techniques on each other that could neutralise an attacker twice your size. The instructors are really encouraging and clearly know their stuff so it’s not at all intimidating. In the process you get to rough each other up a bit with no social services involvement.

Parkour/Freestyle gymnastics

Where, when & how much:

Ace Coaching run a monthly session near Hyde which is for all ages, Sundays 2-3.30pm, £6.50 each.


This is the only class of its kind I’ve come across that let adults and kids train together in a fully sprung and equipped gymnastics hall. Expect a workout like no other, unless you regularly throw yourself over foam blocks or somersault onto crash mats. Coach Adam is great and really makes it fun.


*(NB. I use the term in the loosest possible sense)

When/where/how much:

In your living room, anytime, free. See example beginners acroyoga poses here.


What kid doesn’t enjoy doing the superman on the living room floor? Gets more difficult as they get bigger – consider how strong you are, how much space you have and whether it is safe to do. You never know, you might end up joining the circus.

Twister Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 11.08.02

It’s basically yoga for kids.


See post here.

Collecting nature stuff

If you need an excuse to get out for a walk, sometimes ‘we need to collect (flowers/leaves/acorns/branches etc) to make a present for aunty’ will work. Not always but sometimes. If they enjoy creative tasks involving a glue gun then there is an additional reward at the end. Also strawberry picking in Poynton.


Lots of different games you can make up with these imaginative illustrative cards.
They are designed for a spoken word game but we adapted them for a more enactive, physically expressive version of these instructions.



Hard, smooth ground. The park if you don’t care what people think.

How much:

An adult one costs about £60, kids’ £40, but you can pick them up cheaper.


Incredibly addictive once you get the hang of the rather precarious skill of balancing, which takes several sessions to learn. Also incredibly difficult at first and falls are likely, but your child will probably pick it up in half the time and enjoy teaching you something for a change.

Other stuff:

Trampoline parks

Such as Tramp2lean. Like cigarettes in yesteryear, they’re cheap, pretty intense on the old lungs, and everywhere.

Outdoorsy holidays

Further explanation probably not needed. You could rent my camper van out.

Homework forfeit

Either “Which do you want to do first – walk the dog or homework?” or “Every question you answer, I have to do a press up/situp” (could be useful when desperate)

General horseplay & ‘fitness challenge’

4-up on 18-12-2014 at 20.33 (compiled) 2
General messing around or incorporate your child into your workout – when did we stop playing tig anyway? Bodyweight exercises work well here – “How many times can you go under and round before mummy collapses in a gasping sweating heap on the floor??”

Domestic drudgery

Someone’s got to do it – can you appeal to your inner child and set a timer for a domestic drudgery speed challenge with some kind of prize? Or am I really scraping the bottom of the barrel of what constitutes fun?!

Have you got any other ideas for how to integrate and optimise all the important things in 2017? I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below or inbox me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s