Bethany Schricker |

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May 12, 2014
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ParkFit, the mom-friendly alternative to CrossFit | Moms

It seems like all my friends have CrossFit (or other cool gym) memberships these days.

They are all running around, looking sweaty and fit, posting amazing pictures of their gym accomplishments.

"Hey, look! I just completed this WOD like a boss, all while wearing my cool Lady Gorilla tank top, custom designed gym shoes, and listening to inspiring jams on this iPhone that is strapped to my beautifully buff arm."

While I am not normally a jealous-kind-of-girl, I got a little frustrated last month.

As a single parent, I really don't have child-free time (or budget) to be hitting the gym several times a week.

Shoot, I'm pumped if I get to take a whole shower without being interrupted by kids needing something.

My kids are too old to put in a jogging stroller, but too young to keep up with me on a run.

How was I supposed to get in shape for all the adventures that I was planning this summer?

The answer came to me a couple weeks ago, and it was a child who delivered the message.

I had taken the kids to the park to run off some energy. After a while, I sat down to catch my breath, only to be confronted by a skinny, little 10-year old.

She folded her arms and looked at me scornfully from where she hung upside down on the monkey bars.

"Betcha can't do this," she challenged.

Being the mature adult that I am, I tucked my shirt in and swung up beside her.

"Humph," she snorted. "That's nothin'. Betcha can't do sit ups while you're hangin' here."

She proceeded to start executing perfect inverted sit-ups.

My mature side refusing to let this silly conversation go any further, I taunted, "Kid, I was doing this before you were born," and started matching her, sit up for sit up.

A few days later I was hobbling around, still clutching my screaming abs and wishing that I was as cool as that skinny kid at the park, when my friend took me inside a CrossFit "box" for the first time.

(CrossFit cultees apparently call their gym a "box" because it sounds more epic and life threatening.)

I looked around at all the equipment and realized that this wasn't the magical kingdom that I had thought it would be.

It looked like a giant jungle gym for grown ups.

It was devoid of members when I toured it, but it still reeked of Spartan anguish and victory. It was scary.

I looked at the big monkey bars and shivered. Pull-ups – I hate them. Mostly because I can't do them and it makes me feel like a weeny.

As we walked back outside, I drew a deep breath, feeling like I'd escaped a torture-chamber.

But my brush with CrossFit left me wondering – why can't I be as cool as those crazy CrossFit junkies or that skinny kid at the park? I have multiple parks at my disposal, and my kids are totally preoccupied with making new friends and chasing each other around with bugs when we are at the park, so I could do my own version of a workout while they are busy.

The next day we went to the park, and thankfully there were no other parents around to laugh at me.

I mustered up some courage and walked up to the monkey bars.

I reached up and gripped the cold metal bars, flexing my muscles and stretching my sore abs.

Tentatively, I pulled myself up, and wonder of all wonders, I DID A PULL UP!

Stunned, I dropped back down to the ground and looked at my arms with newfound wonder.

Over the next hour, I did pull ups, sit ups, planked for longer than I knew I was capable of, jumped around like a rabbit on steroids, chased my kids around all over the playground until we were all laughing and exhausted, and left the park feeling powerful.

That was a revelation for me. I finally found a way to get in shape. We've been at the park a lot lately.

I feel great, and my kids think that I'm the coolest mom ever. We've waged legendary games of tag with countless stranger kids. I've watched dozens of parents laugh, put down their smartphones, and join us on the play ground when their own offspring asked if they could do the monkey bars like "that mom over there."

I've found out that climbing up and down on the train at the park is perfect for working on arm strength.

Playing Teeter-Totter with a 4-year old is an intense leg workout, because, let's be honest, playing Teeter-Totter with a 30-pound kid is just doing squats...a lot of squats.

Playing with kids in general is a great workout. It's at least as challenging as a gym membership, if you do it correctly.

So, thank you, skinny little kid who challenged me to change my workout paradigm.

One day, I hope I am as cool as you are.

Meanwhile, I think I'll splurge on a cool Lady Gorilla shirt and "hang" out at the park with my kids more often.

How was I supposed to get in shape for all the adventures that I was planning this summer?

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The News-Review Updated Aug 21, 2014 04:46PM Published Aug 21, 2014 04:45PM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.