I’ve been fantacizing about a set of monkey bars in my house for a while – ever since I met Susanne at Kangaroo Fitness and started reading blog posts by Katy Bowman (biomechanist extraordinaire) on Katy Says. I had discovered Susanne through a flyer at my midwife’s office. She was offering sessions to help correct diastasis recti (a condition where the abdominal wall separates during pregnancy).
I called up Susanne hoping she could help me get my abs back together. Her sessions were fantastically educational, but my mid-section remained lumpy and scarred [Unfortunately, my situation was a little more extreme than diastasis recti, as it was due to the bowel surgeries endured pre-pregnancy]. Once I accepted this physical reality and stopped lusting for a flat midriff, I focused on Susanne’s wealth of other biomechanical and natural movement wisdom – from the ideal squat, to minimalist furniture and footwear, to the importance of upper body strength and hanging… and hence, my monkey bar obsession.
Remembering how easy it was to swing across as a kid, I decided to challenge myself. I started practicing at the park with the kids (sometimes even with a baby strapped in a carrier). My Pinterest board was filling up with ideas and aspirations – I just wanted the family to be able to hang and climb year round. After knocking out a basement wall in our new house, we found a nook that was otherwise bare except for the unsightly electrical panel. Perfect.
And so, with minimal work and very little expense, we transformed the space into THIS:
For our climbing gym, we used the following materials:
- 2” x 4” lumber (4 total) – we had these on hand – FREE!! (otherwise, cost would be $15)
- set of 6 metal bars (ordered on Amazon) … cost $26
- one of the giant pallets from our stash 😉 – FREE!!
- 4’ x 8’ x ¾” smooth plywood board (you can paint or varnish if you like) – cost $40
- rock holds, set of 25 – given to us as a b-day gift for the kids – FREE!! (otherwise cost would be $30 on Amazon)
- gym mat or mattress, for softer landings during early climbing attempts (we found a second hand mattress for free on Kijiji.. it has great springs for bouncing, so doubles as a trampoline;) – FREE!!
With this small amount of mostly-free stuff, the kids now have an incredible oasis of indoor play space. Aside from the obvious physical challenges (monkey bars, pallet ladder, rock climbing and trampoline), this fixture doubles as a theatre, triples as a camp-out tent and quadruples as a back-up indoor piñata hanging station!!!! The design is pretty simple and unobtrusive, so we have the option of adding on things like rings or a rope ladder down the road.
We use the space frequently for family obstacle course nights and just general free play, especially during the winter months. It keeps us active and creative even on the coldest, rainiest days 🙂 You can check out some of our shenanigans on Instagram…
Probably the biggest take-away from my ‘movement’ learning has simply been the value of movement. Most of us sit *so* much during our daily routines that we feel the need to go get sweaty in the gym to make up for all the sitting. Why not simply move more, and move more consciously during your day? That goes for kids too. Unstructured free play time is so important in our household. Good for bodies and imaginations.
For anyone living in the Ottawa area who is interested in natural movement and functional fitness, check out Human 2.0 … they are awesome and can introduce you to muscles you never knew you had!