"Man, this is an awesome workout!"
With these words, my buddy Ali triggered the idea for PlayWorkout as I snapped a picture of the moment. He had been giving a shoulder ride to my daughter, and ended up lifting her up and down a few times as she changed her mind about staying up there or getting down.
It was perfect: all I had to do was make up games to play with the kids that would give me a great workout! Throwing around weights at the gym just isn't my idea of a good time, and time was my scarcest resource as a busy Design Director at Microsoft. Combining quality time with the kids and a good workout just seemed obvious. So I Bing'd it (ok, I was a 'Softie at the time :).
I mean, there were random photos of dads doing pushups with their kids on their back (fun ethnographic insight: every dad - and many moms - already do fun workout games with their kids - they just don't call it that, and it's momentary and spontaneous), but I could find nothing close to a workout program. So I decided to create one.
Fast forward a few years and the family was living in Beijing and I had only come up with a few exercises. My wife received an email about a 12-week body transformation competition, and had the brilliant suggestion that I enter it as a way of getting serious about PlayWorkout. I was game.
So for the next 12 weeks I did nothing but make up and play workout games with the kids. To be honest, it isn't easy to create 96 exercises that are fun, safe, can be done anywhere, use simple objects and actually give a good workout. The most important of these principles was to make it fun. As much as my kids love me, they have no interest in helping me to work my biceps. But when I challenged them to try to not laugh when I tickled their sides with each lift of a bicep curl - they never wanted to stop! And taking on a crazy persona of the ZooTamer who's trying to control his animals only made it more awesome (thanks go to my Dad for inspiring that approach :).
So in the end, I didn't get all buff and muscley (that wasn't my goal anyway), but I did drop 15 lbs. and 5% of my bodyfat. And the folks running the competition loved the way I combined family and fitness so much that I got an honorary 3rd place! I think you can tell from the picture who got first :).
After that, more and more friends started asking me for the exercises. I'd send them a crusty old spreadsheet with cryptic names that wasn't very useful. So now that the kids are a few years older and can actually edit videos, make websites and take photos - we decided to put up PlayWorkout.com so anyone can download the exercises. We hope you find it super fun and can get fit along the way. More than anything, I hope it brings you and your family closer together and encourages you to make up your own fitness games to do at home. Feel free to share photos of what you come up with.
Have fun, get fit!
Dan (and Risa, Max, Eliot & Rue)