Before I had my little one, I exercised quite a bit. But afterwards, it seems like anytime I even thought about hopping on the treadmill, my daughter needed me. Then I heard about the latest trend in new-mommy workouts: stroller fitness classes.
These groups, often offered through gyms, combine cardio and strength training, using the stroller as a piece of equipment. “It allows you to have a little bit of freedom while getting fit and regaining your stamina and energy,” says Marilyn Parisien, a personal trainer at Summit Health and Fitness Gym in Cornwall, Ont. “The baby’s happy, and you’re escaping the house and getting some fresh air.”
Many classes are an hour long, with 50 minutes spent power walking and 10 minutes on toning exercises. In others, you’ll do intervals, says Parisien. “You might power walk for three to four minutes, then stop and do some strength-training exercises, such as lunges, squats, step ups or push-ups for a few minutes, and then go back to walking.”
If you’re hesitant to sign up for a formal class, you can do the workout yourself, or with a bunch of friends. “New moms really like to have a group connection,” Parisien says. “There’s that little bit of accountability, as well as support.” Have your crew commit to times that are convenient for everyone, and don’t limit your group to mat-leave mamas; older babies will love it as well, as long as they’re not curious and anxious to get out of the stroller yet.
No matter who you go with, before you lace up your shoes, be sure to get the okay from your doctor. (Most women can start exercise programs six to 10 weeks after giving birth, and can begin walking before then.) To keep baby from fussing, try feeding and changing her just before you head out. Then pack weights with your diaper bag, throw on some comfortable shoes and head out.
To recreate the workout, go for a half hour to 50-minute brisk walk, and add some bicep curls, shoulder presses, push-ups, lunges or squats at the end of your trek. Keep it up, and you’ll be stronger, thinner, fitter — and hopefully saner as well.