Could playground games help you shape up?

Skipping could help you get in shape. Picture: TSPL
Skipping could help you get in shape. Picture: TSPL
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Spring is on the way, the clocks are about to change, and MasterChef is back on telly – there are lots of reasons to be skipping with joy at the moment.

Skipping, as it happens, is brilliantly healthy, too.

It burns calories, tones all sorts of muscles, and even gives your brain a workout (it’s all that coordination).

In fact, it’s so good for you, there’s a new wave of skipping classes across the country, and fitness experts everywhere are predicting it will be the new hip thing of 2015.

Which makes you wonder about other retro games, too. Maybe we don’t need yoga in hammocks or Bikram ballet classes to get us ready for the coming summer – what we really need to do is re-embrace our favourite childhood activities.

Here, Fitness First master trainers and ambassadors ( analyse the best old school ways of getting fit.


“Traditionally seen as something we did in the school playground, skipping is a great way to burn calories. Lots of athletes use it to help them train, including boxers, and you’ll now find skipping ropes in lots of gym classes,” says Simon Cowen.

“It’s a high-intensity 
exercise and has low impact on joints. Depending on your weight and exertion level, you can burn between 70-100 calories in a ten-minute session.”

British Bulldog

“A traditional playground game, British Bulldog incorporates lots of elements similar to that found in rugby,” says Myles Hopper.

“You need to have a quick reaction time, good acceleration and sustained top speed to evade other players.

“Due to the constant stop/start nature of the game, it bears similarities to interval training, using both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. You can also improve your agility as you change direction trying to avoid other players, again mimicking phases of rugby when trying to avoid the opposition’s grasp.”

Hula hooping

“Hula hooping is a personal favourite, and the weighted hula hoop is much easier to use, allowing you to pick up the technique easily,” explains Amanda O’Hare. “A great tummy toner, as you brace your core throughout. By changing foot and hand position, you can change where you work, and by varying your pace you can alter intensity.”


“Hopscotch allows you to work on your balance, helping with joint and core stability. Add some Sandbells [soft hand weights] into the mix by throwing them into one of the squares and then picking them up for more challenge,” 
advises Amanda.

Duck duck goose

“A great way to introduce a little bit of team spirit into your workout,” Amanda suggests. “The stop/start nature of the game and direction change is a fun way to introduce some interval training with a difference to your workouts. Interval training is great for improving your fitness levels and increasing fat loss.