My friend, an exercise enthusiast, recently had a baby and was upset that her body wasn’t snapping back into shape like she had expected. I totally understand – I’ve been there a couple of times myself. You have the baby, you breastfeed, and according to US Weekly and InTouch, your body should be red-carpet ready before you roll out of the recovery room.
Plus, the Kate Hudson and Kourtney Kardashian covers don’t tell you that your baby weight redistributes in places you would never have imagined – such as the baseball size blob of ice cream and despair that sits on my coccyx – my human version of a Boxer tail.
Although many new moms worry about it, losing weight post-baby isn’t what it’s important. Instead, moms need to focus on being healthy, stress-free and relaxed for both you and your baby – and exercise is one of the best ways to find balance at an overwhelming time. Moms benefit when they can exercise alongside workout buddies who understand the ups and downs of being a new parent, especially since that 20-year-old frat boy gets really uncomfortable when you complain about your chapped nipples and light urine leakage in CrossFit.
Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities for new moms to jump back into group classes where the exercises are motivating, the participants are supportive, and in many cases, Junior can get in on the fun.
Kristin Milonas, a doctor of chiropractic, was looking to expand her fitness side of her business, but didn’t want to take time away from her baby. She found the perfect balance in Fit4Mom pre- and post-natal fitness classes. Milanos’ Stroller Strides classes provide a way for new parents to connect while staying in shape.
“Aside from the reduced likelihood of post-partum depression, the body reshaping, the sense of wellbeing, the improvement in self-esteem, and the strength and cardiorespiratory benefits, the classes become a mommy support group. Friendships are created. The camaraderie creates a safe environment for discussion of the physical, mental and emotional changes of pregnancy and parenthood.”
Stoller Strides classes include a variety of exercises combined with power walking and jogging intervals. The babies become part of the workout as well – for example, Milanos noted participants may do squats while singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, have their toddlers chase them up a hill, and as she stated, “Babies are good for snuggling with crunches and other mat work.”
The participants do everything to support one another, from watching each other’s children if a mom needs to nurse and celebrating victories both large and small. “Recently a new mom arrived for her first class and realized she forgot her running shoes. We congratulated her for making it to class and modified exercises so she didn’t miss the shoes.”
Openings are available for Milanos’ classes during both the day and the evening, and starting Wednesday, June 19, one evening a month is dedicated to Friends and Family Night when participants can bring whoever they would like to class. To find a Fit4Mom in your area, visit www.fit4mom.com.
Post-Natal Swim Classes
I know, I know. One of the last things you want to do is throw on a swimsuit and head to a public pool, but swimming is a fantastic way to both ease into a fitness routine and find some relaxation to rejuvenate. According to Mindy Peirce, director of communications for YMCA of Greater St. Louis, pre- and post-natal aquatics offer a great workout with less impact on one’s joints.
“The Y’s water fitness classes for pregnant women and new moms provide safe exercises to help regain and build muscle, as well as increase flexibility. During the classes, the instructor highlights recommended exercises as well as those to avoid.” Moms can learn more about aquatics classes – or any other classes ideal for new or expecting moms (but not designated pre- or post-natal) by contacting their local Y.
The Mid-County Y currently has pre- and post-natal fitness classes on Mondays at 7 p.m., and during the summer, the branch offers two, five-week sessions for $32 or 10-week sessions for $60. Like Milanos, Peirce sees the impact group classes have, “The main benefit of group classes is forming a connection with and feeling support by others who are in a similar stage of life.
"We often find that participants often become friends outside of the class, forming play groups, etc. Our participants often find it helpful and comforting to discuss any issues or questions they have with others who have been through similar experiences.”
Baby & Me Yoga
Dianna Lucas had been teaching yoga for six years when an expectant mother asked her to modify some yoga poses for her changing body. That led Lucas to launch her own prenatal yoga classes, and in time, Baby & Me Yoga classes at Indigo Massage & Wellness. Said Lucas, “I fell in love with these moms and couldn’t wait to meet their beautiful babies. Baby & Me Yoga lets the moms from the prenatal class stay in touch and keep their community going. It helps a mom’s sanity to have other moms to talk to and having a wealth of information at their fingertips. There’s a peace of mind that comes from the community and the connections they make.”
Lucas’ class adapts traditional yoga poses in order to integrate the infants into the practice. For instance, a baby may have tummy time on a mom’s shins or a toddler may climb on mom’s back to help adjust her pose. But above all – Lucas focuses on keeping her classes organic. Babies are never forced to do something they’re not in the mood for, and Lucas even suggests yoga poses that allow moms to breastfeed without breaking form.
Yoga doesn’t have to stop once a child starts moving. In fact, Lucas shared that the toddlers who attend parent/child classes evolve into kids who appreciate yoga. “A lot of toddler yogis come to adult classes and understand it’s quiet time. They may do yoga, help mom with her poses, or just sit quietly and play. It just blows you away.”
Parents can sign up for Baby & Me classes at Indigo Massage & Wellness, and yogis of all ages are invited to attend Lucas’ classes at the Grand Basin at Forest Park. As with any exercise regime, all the experts interviewed recommended seeking clearance from your doctor before joining a class.
Getting back on the exercise wagon can be rough. However, when that “motivating” trainer’s screams from your DVD wreak havoc on your hormones and walking around the neighborhood is getting monotonous, a great workout group with some supportive fellow moms may be just the workout you need.
Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL
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