Margie Weiss, from Upside Down Fitness for Kids, shows how to do the bridge or backbend.
Margie Weiss: This is Margie Weiss. This segment of upside down fitness for kids is about a bridge or a backbend. The ability to arch a child’s back keeps the backbone in good stead from the time they are young all the way till they are old. So, we want to start them early, learning what it’s like. It also is fun because again, it’s something that’s upside down. First we want to learn just how to get into the position, into that arch position. So, with a lot of mat underneath you, you’re going to lie your child down on the back. We’re going to pretend like we got Mickey Mouse ears. You’re going to put their hands right up by their ears, with the Mickey Mouse ears or right by their own ears. Feet are going to be about shoulder width apart. Then you’ve got choices. When they first start; whether the child is 2, 10 or 12, they can do it in this position. You’re going to take your hands at their waist, with the knee high and one on the ground and you’re just going to pull the child up into this bridge position. Once you get them there and they’re comfortable, you can let go and then let them on back down. Now, another option for this is if you want, and the child is a little more advanced, you can lie the child down. She can put her hands right at my ankles. Again, her feet and shoulder width apart, and I’m going to hold right at her waist, bend my knees, and I’m going to lift her up. She tries to straighten her arms a little bit more than they are, straighten the arms just a bit, there you go, so that I can hold at the shoulders, and press her shoulders forward towards her. So, this is the way that you can get used to doing bridges by herself. Let the body back down slowly right to the floor, I’m going to help her up. Because from there, once she knows how to do a bridge from the floor, she is a little bit more advanced, she can do a bridge from standing up or a backbend; it’s now called. So, she is going to have her hands over her head, and if you want to spot her, you hold her right by the waist. Her bellybutton goes forward as her head goes back. If you want to help her up, hand under the shoulders, bend your knees, rock her forwards, bring her back up. That’s a backbend; it’s a step up from a bridge, which is just from the ground and up. Now, once we know how to do this bridge, we’re going to move some of these mats, so she just has one mat to use, because she is not going to go very far. What we’re going to do here -- let me move this mat back just a bit. She is going to stay right in the middle of this mat. She is going to down into her bridge. Once she is here, all we’re going to do is have her lift one leg to the ceiling. It’s not going any place, it’s just up. Notice, now we’ve put the weight on three parts instead of four. You can practice some flexibility here by pulling up, if you need to spot because you’re worried about her coming down, hand on the waist. Most of the time by the time they get to this stage and you’re stretching them; they can hold it by themselves. Then you bring that leg down, other leg is going to come up, you’re going do the same thing. We’re stretching, we’re straightening that leg, we’re bringing that arm back down. Again, if you want to help her up, hand under, hand on the shoulders, help her come back up, bending to the knees. Another thing you can do is have her walk a little bit sideways or front to back. What this does is, number one, keep her upside down a little bit longer. Number two, works the upper body a little bit more. The bridge if you will notice, she is getting a lot of stretch through the shoulders rather than through the lower back, which is a safe area to get your stretch up through here. So, once she goes to her bridge position, we’re going to have her walk towards the end of the mat, just a little bit, then we’re going to have her walk right back where she came from. So, by moving her body and moving her arms and legs, different muscles get a workout. She can also do the same thing sideways just a little bit, by walking sideways, and then coming back to the center and walking back to the other direction, and coming back to the center. Then again, we help her up. Number of times you want to do this is going to depend on how good the child gets at it. Once they feel comfortable upside down, you can have them walk back and forth one time, up and down, one time. You can have all up and downs, do three, do five, do ten, whatever the child you feel can handle. She will be able to tell you because she will be going, okay, the blood is running to my head, time for a rest. The one last thing that we can do, which is again, a step up, little bit harder, is a pushup upside down. When you tell a child, okay, we’re going to do pushups, most of the times they’re going, I’m out of here, don’t want to do this. But this is an unusual kind of pushup, so it can be a little bit more fun, a little bit more challenging. They’re going to be in a bridge, they’re going to bend their elbows and straighten them again. You’re going to want to spot this one; arms are up in the air. By spotting, I mean assisting, so you’re helping them down, basic bridge. From there she is going to bend her elbows just a little bit. Come back up. If she gets a little stronger, she can bend them a little farther, all the way down and come back up. If she gets real strong, she maybe able to touch the top of her head all the way to the floor, and come back up. You may want to do again, one to ten; generally ten is about the limit that you want to do on an exercise. Hand on the shoulder, bring her back up. The reason we go for ten is generally at that point the muscle start to tire, this is about 20 seconds worth of exercise. So, you want to give the child’s mind and body a break after about ten. Basically then easy backbend, easy bridge position, going all the way up through to a pushup in the position will give you a wide variety of just one exercise so that your child can grow and progress as they get better.