Kid-Friendly Backyard Boot Camp


Looking for a great workout? Try out your very own backyard boot camp. This cardio-strength interval workout can be done in your yard, the local park, or playground. Want to get your little ones involved? Have them join you and add the “fun boost” options. After years of teaching Stroller Strides classes, it’s hard for me to do a workout without singing toddler songs. And with little ones, some flexibility, both mentally and physically, is always part of the workout! As always, this workout can and should be modified as needed. Talk to your health care provider about what is right for you.

Repeat each set twice before moving onto to the next set. Each exercise is 1 minute each unless otherwise specified. Modify and/or take breaks as needed.

Warm up: Toe and calf raises, shoulder rolls, squats, and cat cows.



Bear Crawl: On your hands and feet, crawl back and forth between two markers using your shoulders, your legs, your abs and more, at a pace that is challenging for you.

Fun boost: Add bear growls.

Push ups: 20 seconds regular, 20 seconds downward dog push-ups, 20 seconds parallel push-ups. (The parallel/elbow in position is tough!Modify by doing these on your knees).

Fun boost: Sing the Grand Old Duke of York.

Frog Jumps: Start in a low squat, hands on the ground, and jump up, landing back in a low squat. You can modify by not coming as low, and lifting onto the balls of your feet instead of jumping.

Fun boost: Yell ribbit, or sing 5 Green and Speckled Frogs.

Plank shoulder taps:  Come into a plank position (modify by coming to your knees).  Touch your hand to the opposite shoulder and then switch. Not ready for it yet? Do these on your knees.

Fun boost: With your partner, alternate high fives.



Jog to Sprints: Jog for 10 seconds, run at a challenging pace for 10, repeat. Modify by walking instead of running.

Fun boost: Say Motor Boat Motor Go So Fast, Motor Boat, Motor Boat Step on the Gas.

Lunges: If you have a resistance band, place it under your front foot with handles at your shoulder. Step back and lower as much as you can with shoulder over the hips. Can also be done without a resistance band. Switch after 30 seconds.

Fun boost: Instead of the band, toss a ball back and forth as you lunge forward and back.

Lateral Leap: Place 2 markers a few feet apart. Begin by starting on one foot closest to the marker, with the other leg off the ground. Jump to the other marker, landing on the leg closest to the marker, with your knee slightly bent in the same position as you started in and repeat. Don’t want to jump? Step side to side instead.

Fun boost: Shout out ABC’s quickly and see how many rounds you can do.

Rolling like a ball: Sit on the ground. Feet off the ground. Round your back and roll until your mid back is on the floor, then back up. Find your balance at the top and try to keep your feet off the ground.

Fun boost: Alternate tossing a ball when you roll to the up position.




Crab walk: Place hands under shoulders with fingers facing towards your legs, lift hips and glutes and crab walk to a set marker and back.

Fun boost: Make it a race.



Dips and Tunnels: In the same position, bend and extend your elbows using your triceps to lower and lift your body.  Do 20 seconds, then rotate into a downward dog for 20 and then do a second set of 20 dips.

Fun boost: See how many times your child can crawl under while you are in the tunnel position.

Plank jacks: In a plank position, jump your feet out and in jumping jack style. For a no jump option, step out and in.

Fun boost: High five in a plank hold after each jack


Side PlanksCome into a side plank position with your hand right under your shoulder – In the photo my arm isn’t in the perfect position. Must have been distracted by a small child 🙂 (modify by bringing your bottom knee to the floor). 30 seconds each side.

Fun boost: Top arm high fives

Cool Down and Stretch: cat-cows, downward dogs, runners lunge, kneeling hamstring stretch.

Let me know if you try it. If you have your own favorite kid-friendly exercises, please share!

*Thanks to my friend Jen for being in the photos with me! We’ve done A LOT of frog jumps and bear crawls together!

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Elysa Cruse is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer and is the Manager of the Corporate Wellness Program for Pitney Bowes ( She moved to Fairfield County after college and has been enjoying great ways to be active and eat well in the area ever since, including teaching exercise classes such as Stroller Strides, Pilates and Boot Camp. She is mom to an adorable 3 year old boy and loves getting outdoors whether hiking, biking, or running (really anything as long as it's not weeding). Elysa is still working on the ultimate in work life balance and she's okay if she never quite finds it. Connect with Elysa on Twitter @ElysaCruseRD


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