Boot camp-style calisthenics can help your child develop a healthy body and a sense of discipline. Calisthenics, from the Greek words for beauty and strength, can provide healthy exercise without using expensive equipment. A regular regimen of balanced exercise activities can improve your child's health while providing a structured activity that you can do together. You can even make it fun by setting the routines to music or keeping track of your child's personal improvement. Encourage him to compete against his previous achievements.
Select an open area where your child can run, jump or do gymnastics without disturbing the neighbors. A local park, your backyard or even a large open room in a single-family home will do. Make sure your exercise area is free of obstructions such as ceiling fans and does not have items that can tumble off open shelves. Equally important, it should be a location where you and your child feel safe. Your local family YMCA or similar gymnasium might also be a possibility.
Develop a scheduled routine for your child's boot camp program. Include aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises. Vary the exercises to give various muscle groups a chance to rest between workouts, and also to help maintain your child's interest. Aerobic exercises include jumping jacks, skipping rope or running stairs. Strength exercises can be pushups, pullups, isometrics and leg thrusts. Try some simple yoga routines or just basic toe touches and back bends for flexibility. Include some of each type of exercise in each day's routine, but develop a routine that focuses on different body areas to give various muscle groups a day or two of rest.
Adapt the exercises to your child's age and abilities. For example, your child might not have the upper body strength to do a regular pushup when you begin your regimen. Introduce other exercises, such as yoga's cat pose, or make a game of crawling or racing on hands and knees to strengthen arm muscles before doing regular pushups. Another example is to use a strap to help with situps or leg lifts. By placing a strap around his feet, your child can use his arm muscles to help his tummy muscles do these exercises.
Schedule specific times for your boot camp. Select a time that you and your child can do the exercises together. Start with short, daily sessions of 15 to 30 minutes of exercise, and build up to an hour. Use your varied routines on different days. Include taking brisk walks, running and using playground equipment at your local park or gymnasium as part of your overall boot camp calisthenics. She might also enjoy performing wand routines, jumping rope or developing a ribbon routine set to music as part of your shared program.
Make it fun. Kids like to play, and they are more likely to willingly repeat an experience that they enjoy. You can set some of the exercise routines to music. Introduce an element of challenge by keeping written records of the number of pushups, situps or jumping jacks your child can do. Show him how much he is improving to encourage further effort. If you and your child are technophiles, use a software program downloaded to your iPod or Android device. Such software can play music while you run or create a sense of drama during a workout by relating it to a fantasy theme, such as running away from zombies.