top of page

EXERSHINEkids Bootcamp Inspired Family Fitness Fun! Four Easy Exercise Games for Home

By Dr. Amy Wheadon, OTD, OTR/L

2023 has arrived, and many adults will set goals for themselves and their families for the new year. Increasing daily exercise and facilitating overall fitness is usually at the top of many resolution lists. There are so many obvious benefits of exercise, including getting stronger, getting faster, losing weight, feeling more confident, and just plain feeling good. Any of these reasons can be motivation to get out of bed a little earlier, or to end your day with a workout, a run, or a class. And since families are home together WAY more this year in particular, families working together to exercise daily and get fit is a growing trend!

Due to the winter weather, motivation may require a little more effort, and many gyms and workout facilities are overcrowded in January and winter months. These challenges require people to be more creative with when, where and how they exercise, especially if they are simultaneously juggling work, home, pandemic restrictions and family.


The key word here is family- in particular- children. Working out with your children is a super fun way to get a daily dose of exercise alongside your kiddos, while simultaneously acting as a role model for good health and healthy habits. In addition, an increase in exercise and physical movement is 100% necessary for kids right now. But how do you start? Choose a very simple activity that the whole family can participate in, and tweak it so everyone can participate, no matter what age!

Enter the pediatric occupational therapist! You may wonder, why is my child’s OT an expert in fitness and exercise? Besides our backgrounds in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, OTs focus on enhancing daily, meaningful activities (or occupations) and that can include leisure activities, roles and routines. OTs also have a knack for being fun, creative and inspiring with meaningful activity design. And the pediatric OT writing this blog (in particular) also happens to be a personal trainer as well! Combining OT and exercise is a passion of mine. This combined interest is a growing area in the field of OT for so many reasons, which will be a focus of future blog posts. But for now, here are some fun, family oriented activities to jump start your family fitness routine that can be done pretty much anywhere, and without any fancy equipment!

1. Plank Over Unders

First make sure each family member has mastered a near perfect low and high plank. Then practice going from low plank to high plank and back to low plank. Once you are ready, break into teams of two, with one person alternating high plank, low plank and the other person jumping OVER the low plank and crawling UNDER the high plank. Do this for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds then switch! If you have an odd number of people in your group, you can have one person be the “planker” and the others take turn crawling under and over.

Target areas: core strength, shoulder stability, reaction time, power, agility, pacing, endurance

2. Freeze Dance Challenge

This activity is one of our favorites. Each family member gets to pick a song. Play the music for 15-30 second intervals, and everybody needs to dance. Just like the party game, when the music stops, everyone has to freeze! The fitness catch is to freeze on one foot for another 10-15 seconds and keep your balance! If you lose your balance, you do a burpee! Here’s how to increase the challenge level on this activity: Scatter cotton balls on the floor all around your feet. When the music starts, have everyone do quick feet (pacing the music) instead of dancing, and when the music stops- do single leg deadlifts to pick up as many cotton balls as possible until the music starts again!

Target areas: core strength, dynamic balance, agility, pacing, endurance

3. Eye Spy Workout

Just like the old fashioned game of eye spy, but way more active! One person is the “spy” and spies something in the room that is a specific color. When the spy says “I see something red AND 5 Burpees” for example, everyone runs to something original in the room that is the color red- once they get to the object, they complete the physical challenge (5 burpees in this example) and then race back to the spy. Whoever gets there first gets to be the next spy! Definitely build in 30-60 second rest breaks between sets!

Target areas: core strength, shoulder stability, reaction time, power, agility, pacing, endurance