Backpacking Dad’s Playground Workout

05/31/2008 By Shawn Burns

It’s a problem. You’re fat. You’re at home alone during nap time. You’re watching a Rocky marathon on WGN. And you think to yourself: "Self, why can’t I be in the kind of shape that Backpacking Dad lies about being in?"

Well, here it is folks. Finally, you too can work out like Backpacking Dad.

You will need:

  1. A baby.
  2. A backpack that the baby can be carried in.
  3. to be out of shape.
  4. A playground somewhere within a mile.
  5. A grocery store or market somewhere within a mile.
  6. A nice sunny day.

Secure your baby in the backpack and then secure the backpack to yourself. Go outside.

Walk down to the park. Along the way stick your arms out to the side and flap them like the world’s biggest dork bird. This may induce giggling in your self and in your baby.

The Warmup

Once you arrive at the park find the playground swings. If there is a set with a baby swing next to a regular swing, then that will work perfectly:


Place your baby in the infant swing and push her a few times building up enough momentum to swing for a little bit on her own (but without flipping her around the bar…save that for when she’s 3). Sit in the swing next to her and pump-swing a few times to build up speed and height.

Then jump.

Land running and immediately turn and run back to the swing. Give your baby a couple of more pushes, and then repeat until your baby is bored. Laugh every time you jump and run back toward her. Make between 1 and 3 silly faces per rep.

The Jungle Gym

Take your baby out of the swing and let her walk or crawl over to the jungle gym. Remove from her mouth any wood chips or sand she may have decided to ingest along the way. Let your baby crawl around on the jungle gym and determine where her "playing stations" are. These are places where she will spend at least 30 seconds, and sometimes up to a minute. Also determine where her "falling off the jungle gym" stations are. These are the places where she will, well, fall off. Don’t let her.

At Station 1, use the guide rails along the staircase to do inclined pushups.


At Station 2, use the parallel vertical bars along the bridge to do inclined pullups.


At Station 3, use the high bar next to the gaping death trap of an opening to do chinups.


At Station 4, use the steps to do stair drills.


At Station 5 use the low bar and platform to do tricep pushups.


And at Station 6 use the handles to do elevated squats on the horizontal bars.

IMG00321  And don’t let your baby fall off the jungle gym.

The Cool Down

Reload your baby into the backpack and walk to your market/grocery store. Buy enough that you need two bags to carry your purchases home, but don’t buy anything heavy.

On the walk home use your relatively light bags to do bicep curls and shoulder presses. You will feel it after your second set of 15, no matter how light the bags are.

Once you arrive home, remove your baby from the backpack and try to get her to go down for a nap.


Trust me, friends, if you follow my simple workout program you too can have a body like Backpacking Dad lies about having and a baby who is (a) tired and (b) uninterested in going to sleep (c) crying in her crib and (d) too much for you to handle, really, because you’ve been working out for an hour while she played.

I was inspired to develop this brilliant workout routine after sitting at home eating cheese sandwiches all morning. I think the combination of lifts, pulls, pushups, walking, and guilt has succeeded in working them off.

Mmm. Cheese sandwiches….Be Back Later.