Sneaky Ways '90s Kids Got Their Exercise

Kids playing about on a trampoline in a back garden during the summer
Richard Bailey/Photodisc/Getty Images

Maybe I’m just super out of touch with the youths of today, but it seems to me that the majority of kids’ toys are geared primarily towards the latest technological advances. In some respects, this makes a lot of sense; technology is not only essential to our everyday lives, but moreover, it’s evolving at an exponential rate. Still, though — I can’t help but feel that toys during the era in which I grew up were much more geared towards getting kids outside and running around. In fact, a huge number of the things that made up my childhood were actually really great workouts in the ‘90s.

Do I sound like an old fogey? Yes, I do. And I fully embrace that fact.

It’s true that most of the activities mentioned below are cardio in nature, rather than about strength or endurance training… but then again, that’s probably because the kind of exercise kids need to grow isn’t quite the same as the kind of exercise adults need to maintain a healthy life. It’s also true that some of these things aren’t limited to the ‘90s; in some cases, they were around long before then, and in others, they’ve continued to live long and happy lives even after the conclusion of the decade.

All the same, though, what they all have in common is that they made getting your daily dose of active movement a heck of a lot of fun. So hey, why not revisit them? Just because you’re a grownup doesn’t mean working out has to be limited to Serious Business.

1. Skip-It

Just don’t whack yourself in the ankle with it. You will never know another kind of pain that will hurt quite as much.

2. Rollerblading

Or more generally, “inline skating” if your wheels weren’t actually made by the Rollerblade brand. Either way, though, one line of wheels was so much better than the solid, four-cornered wheel construction of a regular old pair of roller skates.

3. Pogo Ball

Of course, whether or not you got any exercise depended on whether or not you were actually able to stay on the dang thing… but hey, I guess that just means that it taught us balance, too, right?

4. Big Wheels

Not to be confused with Power Wheels. Basically we’re talking about a recumbent bike for toddlers.

5. Giant Trampoline

To be fair, giant trampolines weren’t just toys; most people who trained as gymnasts have memories of learning to do back handsprings on them at their gym. (That would be me.) But also, I was so jealous of everyone I knew who also had one of these suckers in their backyard.

6. Obstacle Course Day in Gym Class

I’d be interested to see what percentage of kids who dominated obstacle course day in elementary school grew up to be the kinds of people who do Tough Mudder events every weekend.

7. Moon Shoes

Funny how many of these things involve jumping, isn’t it?

8. Super Soaker Fights

Not because of the water, but because of the extreme amounts of cardio you got running around trying to avoid the water.

9. Anything You Did To The Tune Of Jock Jams

Because nothing else pumped you up quite the way hearing “Y’ALL READY FOR THIS???” reverberate through the room did. For many of us, this is still the case 20 years later.

10. WWE Wrestling Buddies

I mean, sure, they were basically just body pillows with Hulk Hogan’s face on them — but they were great for taking out your pent-up frustration on.

11. Sockem Boppers

The training tool of choice for the future MMA fighters of America.

12. Those Giant Bouncing Ball Things

You know what I mean — essentially they were medicine balls with handles. You sat on them, held onto the handle for dear life, and bounced your way around the room (and sometimes head first into the coffee table. Not that I’m, um, speaking from personal experience or anything).

13. Anything Made of Foam Rubber

Footballs, mainly, but also more exciting things like fencing sets.

14. Chasing After Your Sky Dancer in the Backyard

Because your parents (wisely) forbade you from launching it in the house. Bonus points if it got stuck in a tree and you had to do some climbing to get it down.

15. The Jungle Gym at the Playground

Heck. And yes.

Images: Richard Bailey/Photodisc/Getty Images; Giphy; Amazon (2); hulktoysnmore/eBay