Health and Fitness: Discovering the inner ninja | Newcastle Herald

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Australian Ninja Warrior has a lot to answer for in our household. A lot of good stuff that is, except for possibly the fact that our eight-year-old seems to think her parents should go on the show. Aside from that unrealistic request, the show has been great for motivating the whole family into action. We watched it for the first time last year and it instantly brought out the inner ninjas. At the park, we would devise different courses on the play equipment for the kids, timing each run then watching them have another crack to see if they could improve. At the beach there was a concrete wall we referred to as the mega warped wall and plenty of energy was burned attempting to scale it. And the show was the catalyst to a string of rope climbing obstacles throughout our backyard, the construction of a climbing wall and requests for monkey bars for Christmas. Using our imaginations rocks or pieces of wood became floating steps, a plank became a balance beam obstacle and it was easy to find time to rack up the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity each day, according to www.health.gov.au, for kids aged five to 12 years. But it was not just our backyard that was transformed as a result of the show. Climbing equipment also began popping up in the backyards of our kids’ friends. They were invited to birthday parties at the local Ninja Parc and we booked in for some family sessions where I was equally as thrilled as my 10-year-old son to make it up the small warped wall. What surprised me most was how sore my entire body felt in the days after an hour session of what was a full-body workout as well as how much fun parents and kids alike had. The other great thing was that none of us were good at everything and there was at least one obstacle that one of us claimed master status of, which I guess is why the show and sport has garnered such a big following. When a Ninja Parc was built in Newcastle a couple of years back, director John Pirlo told me it was primarily about fun and moving was a by-product. “Another benefit is you are doing movements you don’t typically do, such as hanging, balancing and agility as you go through the course,” he said. “There’s also a lot of hand-eye coordination involved and anyone can do it.” With some sports called off this year, there are concerns for the effects on kids activity levels but a few pieces of climbing apparatus and imagination you can have your own ninja workout at home or at the park with the whole family reaping the benefits. (30 minutes) 5 minutes x [walk/jog/skip/cycle/row 30 seconds easy, 30sec harder]; 3-4 x [10 squats, 20 lunges, 10 dead lifts, 10 push-ups, 10 rows, 30sec plank]. Make it harder by adding weights to squats and lunges, interspersing each set of push-ups with some mountain climbers; 5 min x [walk/jog/skip/cycle/row 30sec easy, 30sec harder]. – Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. Send your health and fitness news to r.valentine@austcommunitymedia.com.au

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