Make it a family affair
“Exercising and keeping fit as a family is a great idea as it is not only fun but can really help motivate all members of the family.”
...says Jenny Meadows, Olympian, British record holder and more importantly someone who is adapting to today’s challenges superbly.
Of course, it’s no surprise to learn this dynamo of runner is good at rising to the challenge as that’s something Jenny has had on the agenda ever since she was 7.
When she’s coaching youngsters, for instance -which she does as part of her role working on England Athletics club workshops - she usually starts with the same story “telling them about how I started in the sport when I was 7, almost age 8, having the desire to go to the Olympic Games and managing that, even if it took me 20 years to do it! I think it’s important talking to youngsters about having aspirations and to not worry that the journey isn’t smooth."
But it was worth it in the long run. At her peak, Jenny was one of our finest 800 metre runners, picking up medals at major championships and even beating Dame Kelly Holmes' indoor 800m British record in 2010.
Now retired from the jet-setting world she so enjoyed so much she has turned her hand to keeping us all inspired - leading youth projects in her hometown of Wigan for instance - as well as taking on a role as athletics mentor and coach. Always a gutsy runner, prepared to tackle any race head on, a recent tweet sums up how she’s tacking things in the current sitiuation:
“So today I’ve run a half marathon (by accident), replied to emails, washed/dried 2 loads of washing, partook in a 90min video conference, completed a gym session, FaceTimed friends I’ve not seen for ages and now I’m about to do online quiz. Lockdown suits me! #productive
“We all know our own strengths and weaknesses in terms of fitness so by involving your nearest and dearest in your fitness journey, this can really help the family work as a team and to achieve their goals,” she explains, outlining just how important your family can be when it comes to your own fitness.
“It’s also an opportunity to spend valuable time together and to achieve together. The experiences that you share as a family through exercising together can also transfer into other aspects of family life.” Needless to say, she has limitless great ideas to get us all involved as a family. “You could do some Usain Bolt impressions,” she laughs.
Some ideas from Jenny
Get things going with a few sprints
Line up and run three 30m sprints full out to see who wins. It’s simple as that. It’ll be fun - and you know what, it’ll be doing you some good. Sprinting develops power and mobility and in actual fact is good for endurance as well - so top marks for everybody who gives it a go. And don’t forget the special Usain wave at the end.
Family coordination challenge
As you’d expect from someone so passionate about running, she also says this is a great time to learn a new skill. “Most families enjoy a little bit of friendly competition and children definitely enjoy the opportunity to put their skills to the test,” she explains. “My favourite game or activity for the family is a coordination challenge.
- Whilst maintaining an upright stance, bring your right foot up to your knee or waistline (dependent on flexibility) and tap it with your left hand.
- Then bring your left foot up to your knee or waistline and tap it with your right hand.
- Now repeat this process behind your back by bringing your right foot up towards your bottom and tap it with your left hand.
- Then do the same with the left foot and right hand.
It may sound simple but give it a go as it certainly makes you have to think! This is a cost-free way of having a little fun as a family and seeing who is the most coordinated. Once you have mastered the skill then try to speed up the action. Remember, the emphasis is on working with the opposite foot and the opposite hand in front of the body first and then behind the body.
Coordination challenge race
You may want to develop this into a race so find a 20 metre space where you can all line up and then try to complete the 20 metre distance as fast as possible whilst maintaining the coordination skill. You will definitely have the opportunity to laugh at yourself.
“My favourite? This one every time. It’s called Animal Magic and this is a great way to work mobility and speed - for you and the family.
- Mark out a small square, say 20ft x 20ft - this is where the game takes place.
- Now allocate one of the family to be ‘it’. That person will name an animal - say a kangaroo and you all have to hop around to avoid being tagged by the person who is it (also being a kangaroo).
- After 20 seconds, the ‘it’ person nominates the next and they in turn choose another animal.
It’s quick thinking and quick moving and great fun for 15 minutes or so!