Bring the Kiddie Gym Indoors

How to keep your children active at home when the weather won’t cooperate.

Joan Westlake

HealthKey.com contributor

April 15, 2010


Rainy, chilly weather or the lack of a safe, nearby play area doesn't mean the kids have to just sit around inside and play video games. Instead, create an indoor playground just for them. Start out with just boxes and sheets. Build your own indoor rock gym. Or, in about a square yard and for the price of a Wii, you can buy some pretty cool children's gyms.

Here are some ideas you can help your kids get exercise in the warmth and safety of their own home:

Indoor forts have been the coolest indoor play venues for many, many generations. Some blankets draped over a dining room or kitchen table make a cozy cave to defend and launch missions. Relax about rearranging the house a bit and you can create an awesome play world. A couch pulled out from the wall can be something to crawl over and hide behind. Take a twin mattress off the bed, place between chairs and cover with sheets and you have a tunnel from one space to another. Old cardboard boxes are great touches. They can be armor to hide under crawling from fort to wall. Or, use boxes to make a mini tower to scale.

Indoor climbing walls offer a chance to build muscles, increase balance, enhance flexibility and climb to new heights. For the kids, you don't have to build the side of a mountain. A simple frame with holds attached and a mat at the bottom can keep your little monkeys having a ball. Find detailed plans at www.indoorclimbing.com. If the sky's the limit money-wise, hire someone to build your wall. Check locally or go to a firm like American Rock Climbing or Rockwerx.

Compact kids' indoor gyms may be a bit more down to earth in price and skills required to make them. There are a number of companies with some sturdy, swinging options. The basics include metal and rope ladders; sport rings; trapeze bars and climbing ropes. They are relatively easy to install and are created so they don't leave marks when you take them down. For less than $200, you can find a basic model with quite a few bells and whistles at the Dream Gym store. Limikids and Home Gym for Kids also have some affordable and small-space friendly options.