DALLAS - When 5-year-old Hudson Plaskoff told his parents he wasn't interested in karate or playing team soccer this year, they brainstormed other ways to make fitness fun for him and his brother Parker, 3.
Soon Melissa Plaskoff got the family, including husband Bart, on board with playing hide-and-seek and tag and going on walks in their Dallas neighborhood.
Not only has the family enjoyed the mental and physical benefits of daily exercise, but it’s proved to be a bonding experience, Plaskoff says.
“It’s a happy feeling when we’re all together. The joy of being with the family has changed our lives. My husband and I are closer than we’ve ever been.”
Cheryl Boswell, associate vice president of healthy lifestyles at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, applauds the Plaskoffs’ approach as a healthy one, particularly in a world of hypercompetitive varsity sports and select teams where many kids may dismiss exercise as only for athletes.
“The message you need to send when your child doesn’t make the team or doesn’t want to be on the team is that as a family, we are a team,” she says.
“We need to tell them, ‘You’re just as valuable running around playing tag with me and staying active together as a family.’ ”
Meredith Rosson, youth programs director at Cooper Fitness Center, where the Plaskoff family likes to run together on the track, has come up with a long list of fitness ideas for families, including an indoor obstacle course that the Plaskoffs enjoy.
Something as simple as a basketball hoop can be invaluable for a variety of games, too, Rosson says, including a version of Red Light-Green Light that’s played while dribbling.
The YMCA also posts a list of family fitness ideas at healthyfamily home.org, and family programming offered at local YMCAs’ websites.
Melissa Plaskoff likes giving her kids a chance to laugh at mom and dad, too.
She says she and her husband enjoy jumping into leaves and playing traffic cop with their kids, handing out tickets to the boys as they ride their bicycles.
They also see the physical benefits of volunteer work such as Meals on Wheels, which involves carrying heavy loads of food to and from the car to deliver to those in need.