7 Fun Ways to Exercise as a Family

7 Fun Ways to Exercise as a Family

Exercising as a family is super important. Not only do you get to spend extra time together as a family, but you get healthier as a family. If you’re new to family exercising or just wanting some new ideas, check out these fun ways to exercise as a family.

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Mind, Body and Soul Fitness with BGCA Triple Play

Disclosure – I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

Kids Playing Basketball

There are so many screens vying for my kids attention these days – television, tablets, computers, XBox and Wii – and while I think technology is great and I’m glad they have access to these things, I worry sometimes that they’re not getting enough activity away from the screens.  It is so important for kids to develop good habits early in life for mind, body and soul health and wellness.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has developed their Triple Play healthy lifestyles program to help kids learn about the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition.  Did you know that nearly 3 out of 10 kids in the United States is either overweight or obese? The BGCA has partnered with The Coca-Cola Company and Amerigroup Foundation to help motivate kids to be healthy through nutrition and health education.

Kids Playing Basketball

You can download the BGCA Triple Play Parents Game Plan to get lots of great information and fun mind, body and soul activities that you can do with your family. There are wonderful tips for teaching your kids how to make healthy food choices, including what to look for in fast food restaurants, convenience stores and even at the school cafeteria. I really liked their tips on helping children to believe in their self worth and positive relationships with others in addition to their suggestions on how to include physical activity in your daily schedule.


One of my favorite ideas in the Parents Game Plan is their Basketball Challenge – they include lots of techniques and instructions to help kids improve their skills and the challenge also details several different games for kids of different ages. We have a basketball hoop in our driveway and the kids and I like to play HORSE in the afternoons after homework. It’s such a fun way to do something physical together and it keeps everybody away from their screens for awhile!


Train Smarter with Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post and I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Jabra Pulse Wireless Earbuds

When they first came out I got one of those smart pedometers that I wear every day and I love being able to track my activity and log my weight and food intake so much that I bought another one for my mom. I think it’s incredible how much technology has impacted fitness and training – I use my smartphone daily to map my walks and keep track of my steps. I keep track of calories burned and consumed by logging what I eat and I also track fluctuations in my weight to monitor progress on my goals.

Jabra Pulse Wireless Earbuds

Now there are brand new Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds that take training to the next level and help you get the ultimate wireless workout.  Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless is an all-in-one training solution that combines an in-ear biometric heart rate monitor, immersive Dolby® Digital sound and real-time voice coaching and it’s made to US Military grade durability certifications.

It has a built-in intelligent app – Jabra Sport Life – so exercisers can get the most out of their Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds, helping them plan, track and evaluate each workout.  It has never been so easy to test fitness levels and aerobic capacity, adjust heart rate zone levels to optimize training, and set goals based on distance, time or calories burned. The Jabra Sport is compatible with smartphones that have Bluetooth capabilities. I’m super excited to check out the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless at Best Buy for myself so I can also keep track of my heart rate while I exercise.


What Type of Heart Rate Monitor is Right For You?

Heart Rate Monitors

There are so many choices these days when it comes to heart rate monitors that it can be difficult to make a selection. Here are some of the different kinds available and some tips on choosing the perfect one for you:

Fitness or Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight, get more active, or improve your fitness level then a heart rate monitor would be great for you. Use them to monitor your heart rate to help get the most out of your workout and take it to the next level. Basic heart rate monitor watches with chest straps are perfect for this.


There are sport watch style heart rate monitors that are specifically made for runners, mountable GPS style monitors for cyclists and even waterproof styles designed for swimmers and triathletes that actually count your strokes as well.

GPS Monitors

Some wrist watch style and bike mount heart rate monitors include GPS capabilities that also track your speed and distance while cycling, running, jogging or walking.

Before you pick out a heart rate monitor for yourself, think about all the activities that you’ll be doing while wearing it so that you can choose one that best suits your style and needs then get ready to maximize your performance by tracking your personal stats.

Photo Credit: iClipart

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post, however all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.


Stepping Up My Game With a FitBit


I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m having a close personal relationship with my new burgundy FitBit, and I love it! It seems that for the last seven years, since my kids were born, I’ve been gaining and losing the same ten pounds every year. Each year I’d make the same New Year’s resolution to lose the weight that I’d gained over the holidays, and I’d spend the spring getting bathing suit ready. By the time Halloween would roll around I’d be back in chocolate mode though, and start the cycle all over again.

This past October I decided that it was time I tried something different. I figured if I started before the holidays, instead of power eating my way through them and beginning my usual new year new diet, that I could at least get a head start on the weight loss.

Last summer my mother had knee replacement surgery and her physical therapist told her she’d only get as much out of the new knee as she put into it, so she started walking on a daily basis. She’s up to three miles a day most days of the week and she’s putting me to shame so I started walking with her when I’m in her neighborhood, and I’ve been doing more walking at home with the kids. I had absolutely no idea how far I was going out here in the woods so I invested in a FitBit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker to keep track for me.

At around $100 I thought it was a little pricey, but it is way more than just a fancy pedometer and I believe it was a great investment. The FitBit Zip is a cheaper alternative at around $60, and it is very similar to the FitBit One except that it doesn’t track your sleep. I’ve had issues with bruxism (grinding my teeth while I sleep) and wake up often during the night so I decided that I really wanted the sleep tracker feature as well.

Here are some surprising things I learned right away from using the FitBit:

  • I wasn’t moving NEARLY as much as I should
  • Despite waking up a CRAZY number of times each night, my ‘sleep performance’ isn’t too bad
  • My main problem was in between meal snacks!

I expected to learn how many miles I was walking each week and how many times a night I was waking up, but I’ve really learned so much more than that. Here’s how it works – attach the FitBit to your bra with the holster, clip it to your shirt or put it in your pocket. It will keep track of your activity during the day, and at night you slip it inside the included wristband and press the button when you get in the bed. It’s super simple to use and will display your steps and other info right on the face of the device, but the online dashboard is where you can get a bunch of other great information.


The FitBit One comes with a small USB device that allows it to communicate wirelessly with your computer. You can then login to the FitBit.com website, which is automatically updated, and track all sorts of other things like your weight, blood pressure, glucose, foods you eat and anything else you can think of with the custom tab feature. My FitBit arrived on November 9th already charged and ready to go and I started tracking what I ate each day on the website, along with my occasional weigh-ins. I set a goal of losing 10 pounds and began to realize the biggest reason I wasn’t losing any weight was because of all the between meal snacks.

There’s usually a bag of fun size candy bars hiding behind the monitor on my desk, but once I found out how quickly they were adding up I began eating a lot less of them. I refuse to give them up, but now I save them for a treat and enjoy them more while I’m eating them.

I also found out that on the days my mom takes the kids my rear rarely leaves my chair since I typically spend those days behind the computer catching up on work. The difference in the number of steps on those days was amazing so I’ve made a conscious effort to squeeze more activity into those days. Little things add up – like getting up and dancing during the music at the end of movies. It’s just a few minutes here and there but it’s really a lot of fun and I’m thrilled that by simply keeping track of what I eat and trying to move more when I can I’ve been able to lose 6.8 pounds already, DURING the holidays!

Disclosure – I purchased my own FitBit and all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. This post does contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.



How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Okay, it’s confession time guys!  I’ve really been looking forward to the Brandcation blogging conference next weekend at Portofino Island and all the planned activities including the Blogger Olympics and an exciting day at Adventures Unlimited.  Well I just recently found out that there will be a hula hoop competition and while I’m not averse to making a fool of myself in public, especially with a group of other participants, I’m not really willing to put the evidence on YouTube so I bought a hula hoop and started to practice.

I figured that I’d have plenty of time to master the hoop and this way I wouldn’t let my team down or risk making it onto the Today Show for a completely different reason than I had imagined!  I’m actually pretty embarrassed to admit that I tried for three days (not ALL day people!) and couldn’t get the hoop to go around more than three times in a row.

Refusing to give up (or miss the conference!) I went online in search of tips and found out that my $5 hoop was really “child sized” and would be the most difficult thing for an adult to learn with or use.  To determine the proper size you stand the hula hoop up on the ground and the top should reach somewhere between your waist and your chest.  The standard size for an adult is 42″ diameter, 36″ diameter for a small adult, and 32″ diameter for a child.

When I searched Amazon for fitness hoops (that’s what they call the adult version) they were $30 to $40 so I thought I’d make my own instead!  At Home Depot I bought a 25′ coil of 3/4″ 160 PSI PVC tubing, two 3/4″ nylon couplings (see connector pic below), and a roll of red duct tape for $26 – this was enough to make two hula hoops so they were $13 each.  I was so excited to try out my new hoop and I’m thrilled to report that the difference is amazing! (on a side note, my abs really hurt today!)

I watched this video to learn some hoop techniques and the two sisters who do the videos are incredibly fit and the hoop is so much fun that I believe I’ve found my new workout!  It’s definitely not easy which makes it an exciting workout, and it’s good for all your parts since you’re moving your hips and legs and holding your arms up at the same time.

How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Materials Needed:

  • 3/4″ irrigation tubing (120 to 160 PSI for adults, 100 PSI for kids)
    • 42″ Adult – 11′ length tube
    • 36″ Adult – 10′ length tube
    • 32″ Child – 8′ 4 1/2″ length tube
  • 3/4″ nylon coupling
  • Duct tape or electrical tape in color of choice

Use a PVC cutter or handsaw to cut the tubing to the desired length and insert the coupling into both ends.  If it is a tight fit then run the ends of the tube under hot water to soften before inserting the coupling.

Place a 3″ to 4″ length of duct tape around the coupled area to hold securely in place.  To finish the hoop, decorate it and give it a good weight wrap tape all the way around the hoop on the diagonal.


Indoor Bike Exercise Stand Just $65 Shipped!

I've been trying to drop a couple winter pounds and get more toned for bathing suit weather so I was really interested when I saw this deal! You can use this Magnetic Steel Bicycle Indoor Exercise Trainer Stand to get some great exercise indoors no matter what the weather is like and without a great deal of expense.  Use your own bicycle with this trainer stand and you'll have an indoor cycling trainer but you won't have to shell out a lot for exercise equipment.  This stand regularly retails for $147, but you can grab yours now for just $65 plus free shipping!  The unit uses magnetic resistance so as you pedal the internal magnet creates resistance, with 5 levels of resistance that you can change right from your handle bars.

(All posts may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.)


8 Ways to Stay in Shape Without a Gym Membership

Most of us want to get in shape and stay healthy. However, we always find reasons to keep us from exercising—and having a limited budget is one of the reasons people often use. The great news is that you don’t need a costly gym membership to get in shape!

Here are some inexpensive ways to be fit and trim without spending a fortune:

1. Work out from home.

Instead of spending a hefty amount on monthly gym fees, why not spend on your own equipment? A jump rope, resistance band, stability ball and dumbbells are some of the more effective yet affordable things you can purchase. Check CraigsList or local consignment stores for larger equipment.  No budget for equipment? Then do push-ups, crunches and squats!

2. Hit the pavement.

You don’t need a treadmill to keep in shape. Step out the door and go for a walk or a run around your neighborhood. Map out a route you can do regularly, then work on increasing your pace or logging a longer distance the next time you head out.

3. Go sightseeing.

There’s no reason you can’t sightsee in your own city. Call your neighborhood parks and recreation centers to inquire about free or inexpensive walking tours. You can also opt to make use of your park facilities and walking trails.

4. Take the stairs.

Forego the convenient elevator ride up to your office and take the stairs instead. If you’re pressed for time during the day, then take advantage of the empty stairwell after office hours. Get a great workout by repeatedly running up the stairs, and then walking back down.

5. Check out your local library.

If you’re strapped for cash but are looking to keep in shape, the library is a great place to go. Borrow workout DVDs or explore the periodicals section for health and fitness magazines. If you’re getting bored with your routine, then check out a new magazine or DVD next week!

6. Do housework.

You may not be excited about this, but doing the house and yard work is a wonderful way to burn a few calories. Clean the house from top to bottom and you’ll be able to stay in shape while keeping your house spic and span!

7. Go dancing.

Dancing is a fun way to get your blood pumping and your calories burning. Check your local clubs or community center to see if lessons are being offered. You’re likely to find group classes that are either free or very inexpensive.

8. Drink water.

Drinking only water and staying away from sodas, carbonated fruit drinks and alcoholic beverages is another inexpensive way to keep healthy. Not only will your calorie count drop, but your expenses will, too.

These are eight simple ways to stay in shape without having to enroll in a gym. Turn these activities into a habit and you’re well on your way to a becoming a healthier and happier you!


Shopping Strategies for Fitness

Last month, I applied to be the next Mamavation Mom. Mamavation is a program created by Bookie Boo that offers women support & encouragement with their weight loss goals. On Monday, two moms will be selected to lead the way in an eight-week virtual bootcamp, with all the tools they’ll need to be successful. Part of the application process required me to jump in and start living a healthier life. 

I gave up soda. I cut back on snacking. And, I began a fitness routine, led by Fit Mom in Training. I’ve made it to the final round (and could use your vote!), going from total couch potato to muscled mama. Granted, they’re tiny muscles, but I’ve come a long way in just three weeks! Since I prefer to keep it frugal, I’ve mostly gotten started with free workouts at home. I have, however, needed a few things along the way. Here are my favorite strategies for keeping it in the budget: 

  • Consider Alternatives – Before you make a purchase, see if you have something at home that will do the trick. I used canned goods from my grocery stockpile as hand weights for the first week or so. I also walk the house or steps in absence of a treadmill. And, I use one of the girls’ jump ropes instead of buying something for myself.
  • Buy UsedFitness equipment gets donated a lot! People buy it with the best of intentions, only to get rid of it down the road, when it becomes a dust collector. Check Goodwill, Craigslist, yard sales and Play It Again Sports for deals on fitness & sporting goods.
  • Daily Deals – I’m currently enrolled in a Zumba class paid for with a recent Eversave deal! I’ve also seen gym memberships & fitness classes on Groupon, Living Social and other daily deal sites. Subscribe to the email for your area, and wait for a deal near you.
  • Make a List – Start with a wishlist of items you’d like to have for your fitness goals. Then, approach any purchases the same way you would with groceries. Check the ads each week and wait for the next sale.
  • Find Freebies – The best deal is always FREE! Check the library for free fitness DVDs. Ask friends if they have unwanted equipment. And, don’t forget about Freecycle or the free section on Craigslist!

I’ve spent almost nothing on my new fitness regimen so far, but I have lost a few pounds, built some actual muscles and dropped almost a full pants size. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next! 

Will you please support my fitness journey with a quick vote

About the Author:  Heather Sokol is the married mother of three girls. In between carpool, grocery shopping and her new fitness routine, she shares miscellaneous mom secrets and her tricks for living inexpensively

Photo Credit:  iClipart


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