My husband Al and I were in Costa Rica recently with friends Jim and Danielle Toth.
One of the highlights of our trip was spending time with the local people in a little village of about 200 residents in the province of Guanacaste.
It seemed like whenever one of us would head outside of the Hacienda to the open, wrap-around porch to exercise, one or more kiddos would show up -- intrigued and anxious to try all of it.
Our hosts Jorge and Stephanie, of Pura Vida House, were kind enough to let us bring various rocks onto the porch to use for deadlifts, squats and squat push-presses.
I don't know much Spanish, but I soon realized that words weren't necessary as the kids joined into our movement sessions and were happy to try movements such as the Olympic Lifts with a pole, foot-hand crawling, broad jumps, push-ups, dragonwalks and more.
A group of high schoolers also showed us some things we couldn't do -- such as free-standing headstands, handstands, backbends and other movements in a spirit of play.
Our closest neighbor, Maria, 9-years-old, would show up early in the morning and go into a deep squat with arms outstretched and a big smile to let me know if was time to move!
Maria was a great tree-climber and could be up in a tree safely in a matter of seconds.
Movement is a universal language -- like music and art -- all of us can relate to it and that makes words unnecessary.
Moving the body just for fun feels good, brings laughter, challenges and new body awareness that helps us to develop even more advanced skills.
It is fun to see what the body can do and to take advantage of what the environment has to offer for physical activity.
We did a lot of tree climbing and some light running and jumping around the property.
Jorge told me no deadlifting of logs due to snakes and scorpions -- and yes, I complied.
We practice a movement called a Jungle-up in which we grab a branch and pull our feet up to it repeatedly. The kids loved it and Juan very playfully gave it a try ... single-handed!
It was a wonderful experience to see how much everyone enjoyed playful movement and physical activity. It was definitely a highlight of the trip for me and I can't wait to go back for more.