The school holidays are here and with the amazing weather here in the UK, the parks are full of families. This week just gone, I spent a day by the coast in Brighton and some of which was at a playground with climbing frames, slides, seesaws, etc…

As soon as we entered the area, my friend’s children were off…. Climbing, clinging to ropes, hanging from monkey bars…. Great fun! Being an active person – and admittedly someone who even at forty-two likes running around like a big kid – I instantly wanted to start climbing and playing around on the equipment!

Looking around and all I could see were kids being active and mobile, whilst the adults were keeping a half nervous eye on their little darlings in case they had a fall, or sitting looking at their phone screens, some were enjoying some food and drink from the cafe nearby.

I thought about having a climb, or doing a few pull ups but then became self conscious, remembered that it wouldn’t be the ‘done thing’ and imagined the disapproving looks I would receive from my fellow grown ups if I – a fully grown adult – was seen to be doing anything other than keeping a respectful distance from the climbing frame!

Whilst I fully understand any safety concerns regarding adults and children climbing on the same frame it did make me wonder wistfully, when did we all become so serious and am I now that middle aged respectable person who sits around watching everyone else having fun!?

Why can’t the adults play!?

Keeping the body moving, leaning, reaching, balancing, climbing, swinging, sliding….. All natural movements that the body can – and should – be making. Why should I sit idle, whilst the kids have all the fun!?

As adults I think we compartmentalise too many things and exercise (or training, as I prefer to call it) is certainly something which needs to break free from these constraints. Instead of setting aside an hour in the diary to go to the gym or an exercise class, why not have a looser and more informal approach to staying active – learn how to play again!

Grab a skipping rope, jump up a few steps, do some shadow boxing and pretend to be Rocky, run up a hill, play tag, have silly competitions with your kids, grandchildren, friends and colleagues, on your lunch break walk past a park and do a few pull ups – think of unconventional and interesting as well as fun ways to stay fit and healthy, find opportunities to do this several times a day if you can!

Break the shackles of responsible adulthood and learn how to play again. I love the way many people describe tai chi practitioners as tai chi players – because really it’s fun, it’s a game and we should have a great time whilst we do it in an enjoyable, inquisitive, exciting and inventive way. People worry too much about getting things ‘right’ – who cares… the beauty of such an activity is that it’s not sky diving and you can always just have another go if it doesn’t go to plan!

We seem to be shrouded with a veneer of responsibility and seriousness but how liberating would it be to break through this and just enjoy your training, whatever it is, in a joyful and playful manner?

Quite often when teaching classes in tai chi, kung fu and kickboxing I will get people to do things to take them out of their grown up comfort zone, which more resemble activities you would only really expect to see children doing – animal walks, for example. Once you get the adults going though, they absolutely love it! It’s a great form of training, is a perfectly natural way to move and has tremendous benefits for health and fitness, improving strength, mobility, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels.

So instead of leaving play just something which you let your children and grandchildren to do, whilst you sit around and watch (or play on your phone!), join in and re-learn how to move, enjoy staying fit and healthy.

Whilst many people go a bit OTT with the seriousness of the martial arts, it is essentially a really fun thing to do – so if you’re looking for some ideas on how to make training enjoyable again, why not get in touch and see how we can help!

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