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Mindful Movement for Kids: A Pilates Exercise Game to Get Kids Moving

Pilates Exercise Game for Kids

When the weather is not ideal outside, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep kids occupied, happy and active indoors. Add a lockdown and pent up energy from homeschooling, and most parents would be at their wits’ end.

STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Rebecca McLean embraced this challenge to make movement as fun, creative and engaging as possible for her two kids, aged five and seven.

She created a spinoff of the popular Snakes and Ladders board game— adding a Pilates twist.

“The game works in the same way as the classic board game, but in my version, each time you land on a square, you have to complete 10 repetitions of a different Pilates exercise, infusing a bit of movement and exercise into my kids’ playtime,” she says.

A Snakes and Ladders board game that incorporates Pilates exercises to get kids moving

Giving her children agency over the rules and adding an element of competition made them that much more excited to play. They participated in creating the board, and choosing and planning out the Pilates exercises.

“The goal of this game was for us to do some fun movement inside while the weather outside wasn't conducive to running around. I wanted to create a game that we hadn't played before. After so much time in lockdown together, it was time for something innovative and fresh,” she says.

Rebecca encouraged her children to create their own movement variations of the classic Pilates exercises.

“They have so much creativity and our fascia loves playful movements. Their Pilates exercises generally involve more jumping and animal-like movements, so they really get the heart rate up!”

Encouraging your children to take the lead and move into positions that feel good for their body helps them check in and be more mindful of how they’re feeling and what their body needs. It’s so important for us to do movements that leave our body feeling great as not all exercises suit everyone and being mindful of that throughout your life is crucial.

Both of Rebecca’s children loved the game and the process of creating it.

Give it a try (instructions below) and if your kids take to it, you can repeat the activity once a week or once a month to inspire them to improve their score.

“This will provide them with a little bit of competition against themselves, but it’s even more fun for them if you join in too!”

How to play

The premise of the game: Snakes and Ladders is a popular board game that requires players to roll a die to advance around a board, usually numbered 1-100. The objective is to avoid the snakes, which cause players to slide down the board; and get on a ladder, which allows players to climb up, improving their rank. The first one to reach the end wins.

Adding a Pilates twist: Rebecca’s game is exactly the same as the classic except her kids had to complete a Pilates exercise on each square they landed on. There are a few different ways to play. You can require each individual player to do the specific exercise outlined in the square they land on, or require all players to participate every time, making for a very good workout.

Pilates exercises for kids: Let your kids explore and create their own variations, which may be more playful and bouncy. A squat may turn into squat jumps around the room. You can experiment with timing your kids for short intervals between 30-60 seconds to see how many repetitions they can complete in that time.

Try these Pilates exercises:

  • Squats
  • Push Ups
  • Roll Ups
  • Single Leg Stretch
  • Moving Plank
  • Lunges
  • Spine Twist
  • Swimming Preps
  • Standing Star
  • Bridge
  • Squat Jumps
  • Lunge Jumps
  • Hundred
  • Burpees

What exercises do you like to do with your kids? Let us know on Instagram @Merrithew.

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