The rules to Amoeba tag are simple.
One person tries to tag other people. Once tagged, they link arms and continue to tag other people to form one big group that tries to tag the remaining people.
Victoria resident Christina Breker begins as the tagger, while the other five participants spread out in Stadacona Park on a sunny Saturday morning. Breker moves quickly, running around trying to tag her first victim. Some manage to dodge out of her way. Slowly but surely, with a light touch on the shoulder, she tags one person after the other.
Hearts begins to race, sweat begins to drip, and there are screams of excitement and laughter as the group of taggers grows larger and the number of individuals dwindles until there is only one person left.
Amoeba tag is just one of the games Breker plays as part of adult recess — a new fitness class for all ages and abilities designed to make exercising fun.
“I hope they (participants) have a renewed enthusiasm for movement and that they will feel happier after. Mentally when you have exercise you feel better about yourself and I want people to realize that everybody can do it,” she said. “You don’t have to hate it and don’t have to convince yourself to get up.”
The idea of an adult recess class first came to Breker last year. She saw a YouTube video of a simple game of calf tag, that involves tagging a person’s calf, and decided to incorporate it into the cardio and strength class she was teaching at a community centre.
“I noticed that we got all the benefits of those movements, but everyone was laughing. We had so much fun. Everyone was loving it,” said Breker, a personal trainer originally from Saskatoon.
“I love movement, I love athleticism. For me, it’s always been fun. But as an adult, I started to see people did athletics to change their body — either for weight loss or to look a certain way — and it robbed the fun and the enjoyment of movement. It was more fun when I was a teenager and I thought how can I bring that enthusiasm back?”
In late December, Breker got the ball rolling for the class. She researched physical education manuals, YouTube and websites to develop a number of athletically-based games, where participants get a full-body workout with recovery periods mixed in as well.
As part of the six-week adult recess class, participants play a number of games reminiscent of one’s childhood, including an XO’s relay, a bear crawl relay, and hand-ball soccer.
“It’s a great workout and it brings the joy back into exercise,” said Breker, adding she’d like to have fitness instructors take some of the games and use them in their own classes.
The class has adults excited about the idea of playing in a park like a kid again.
Victoria resident Kelly Acker saw a poster for the class in a coffee shop and decided to sign up.
“I was tired of the same old going to a sweaty gym with stale air and music that is way too loud and obnoxious and doing repetitive stuff,” she said. “I don’t know why more people aren’t flocking to this, it’s so much fun . . . I actually feel more of a workout here.”
Sherwin Arnott, also a Victoria resident, said the class encourages him to be more active throughout the week as well.
“It’s just such a huge relief getting activity in my life. I’ve even noticed just in the course of this week leading up to today, I was a little more active anticipating it. It’s made a difference in my week and changed how I think about activity,” Arnott said. “I get just as much exercise from the laughter.”
The class is currently in its fourth week. The first class is free and drop-ins are $10. Breker hopes to do a class in the summer and evening classes as well.
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