MASTER CLASS: It's like your driveway was built for this workout

Meredith Pinkston does as many jump squats as she can while the ball rolls back toward her, the second leg of the Driveway Challenge for Matt Parrott's Master Class. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

One of my first memories of physical activity is in the driveway of my parents' house at the age of 3 or 4. I remember using that driveway to ride my Big Wheel.

It is a fond recollection because it was the first place my parents would let me be active outside the house. I took full advantage, and my daughter uses the driveway for the same purpose today.

It's not hard to transform a driveway from a utilitarian necessity to an exercise playground.

The cool thing about the driveway is that it is part of your home, but it's also part of the neighborhood. Friends and neighbors walk by with their pets; guests park their cars there during visits, and kids use driveways for art projects. It is the place where many friendships begin, as neighbors chat while tending to their yards or grabbing the mail.

The driveway is a part of suburban life, and its value has never been more apparent than right now. Social distancing has transformed many driveways into living rooms, patios or neighborhood coffee shops.

The driveway can also be a perfect place for physical activity. It's a stable surface within the safe confines of one's property, with easy access to equipment and refreshments. Kids have played driveway sports since the creation of the suburbs, so it's not a new phenomenon. But few have developed their driveway in a way that maximized the potential of the space.

Recess games like hopscotch, four square and kickball are excellent choices for driveway sports, because kids and parents can do them together. More intentional physical activity games can also be created, by applying a little ingenuity.

This week's exercise is designed around a common driveway design element that many people might not have noticed, that driveways tend to slope away from the house. From an engineering standpoint, this design element is necessary to ensure water flows away from the structure. It also presents a fun opportunity for exercise.

1. Select a soccer ball, basketball or medicine ball. Really, any ball will work.

2. Position yourself at the bottom of the driveway. The goal is to roll the ball uphill until it touches a barrier, like the garage door, and then rolls back.

3. The goal is to perform as many reps of an exercise as you can before the ball gets back to you.

4. The first challenge is pushups; the second challenge is jump squats, and the third challenge is jump lunges.

5. Set a baseline repetition count on the first couple of attempts, and try to improve the number of reps performed each day. It's fun!

There are all sorts of variations to the Driveway Challenge. Jump rope and jumping jacks are also good options that can be added to keep the activity fresh. But the overall idea is to get outside, stay active with family and make memories that last a lifetime.

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 05/25/2020