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Sneak Fitness Into Fun

The Sneaky Chef moves from hiding sweet potatoes to reforming couch potatoes.
 

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Like her earlier, best-selling title, Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine’s new book begins with a lament. This time, the frustrated mom is Lapine’s coauthor, Larysa DiDio. She’s a certified personal trainer who couldn’t seem to get her own kids off the couch and playing actively. Naturally, she was alarmed.

So DiDio came up with a plan for masking fitness activities with fun, just as Lapine hides healthy foods in kids’ favorite, not-so-healthy meals. Now DiDio and Lapine have collaborated on an advice book. The result is Sneaky Fitness: Fun, Foolproof Ways to Slip Fitness Into Your Child’s Everyday Life. (I’m not quite sure who’s meant to be the “fool” here: the parent or the child?)

After some scary stats on childhood obesity and inactivity, Sneaky Fitness offers a game plan for “[getting] your child in the habit of moving, building muscles, increasing stamina, and developing a craving for that post-exercise energy without even realizing it’s happening.” There’s a useful outline of how to structure your approach for preschoolers, grade schoolers, and tweens.

The book lists 100 activities to try with your kids. For each, the authors note about how many calories kids will burn and what type of fitness boost it offers (strength, cardio, flexibility, and so on). They also add a “sneaky supercharge,” a more challenging variation for older and/or more fit children. An appendix sorts the activities into categories: for playdates, for rainy days, for preschoolers, etc.

The ideas range from the are-you-kiddingly obvious (#18, jump in puddles) to the impractical (#40, get a dog) to the inspired (#51, musical chairs while you’re watching TV — the chair-less person has to stand until the next commercial break). A few seem counterproductive, like baking cookies (100 calories an hour . . . but how many calories’ worth of dough will your little helper eat?).

Throughout, sidebars suggest birthday party activities, sneaky twists on classic backyard games, and ways to overcome kids’ excuses. My favorite extra: the “Wii Workout.” It lists simple strength and flexibility moves that might help your child (or you!) boost his high score on some popular Wii games.

The second half of the book is the Sneaky Chef redux: a review of all the food-hiding and nutrient-boosting methods from that book, plus 50 new sneaky recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. If you already have that book, you’ll likely appreciate the new recipes. But you’ll also find a lot of repetitive material.

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