Exercise with Little Ones: Join a Fitness Playgroup

Impossible to exercise with little ones underfoot? Don't want to leave your newborn in the gym nursery? You’re not the only new mom who needs to get back in shape and who wants to socialize with other new moms, all with baby included.

Indeed, many moms these days are joining exercise groups that include both the mommies and their babies in various ways. This new trend has generated special classes and groups that combine the best of an exercise class with the best of a playgroup, that is, an activity that gets you out of the house, helps you regain strength and flexibility, allows you to bond with your baby in an enjoyable activity, and gives you an opportunity to connect and network with other moms.

Benefits to Mom and Baby
These classes are an ideal way to combine getting fit with spending time with your baby. Rather than a typical parent and child class geared to activities for the child, it’s a class geared to exercises for mom. Either the routines involve the baby or the site has toys and games for the youngsters in the same room with the moms. Parents do not have to stress out about leaving their newborn in a health club nursery. With a certified instructor, participants also do not have to worry about doing the exercises incorrectly. In addition, the instructors are often knowledgeable about child development and can answer questions about the babies.

While working out, participants enjoy being around other moms and babies. They get to know each other, form friendships and share information. Mothers gain moral support and practical advice from each other, while their babies enjoy the movement and music.

Not to mention, the routines strengthen, tone and energize the moms, helping them regain their pre-pregnancy bodies.

Moms are usually required to be eight weeks postpartum and may even need written permission from their doctor to sign up for certain classes. Other requirements depend on the type of class you join, although you are always encouraged to bring your baby along. Participants bring pre-walking babies in front carriers, baby slings or backpacks. Other groups ask their participants to bring their infants or toddlers in a stroller for a class that includes the apparatus in the exercises.

Types of Classes
Classes using strollers have gained in popularity in recent years. Stollercize, Strollerfit and Walk-a-Bye-Baby are stroller fitness programs designed around the stroller so mom and dad can be with their baby. The stroller is used for cardio, balance and resistance. Classes are held outdoors in a local park or indoors during inclement weather.

Aerobics classes often include exercises that involve the baby in the routines. For toddlers and preschoolers, the class may meet in a location that offers toys for the youngsters to keep them happy and entertained. Motherwell and Fit For 2 offer a variety of classes for moms and their infants and toddlers.

Yoga is an excellent way to get back into shape physically and emotionally after giving birth. Yoga classes usually emphasize poses and breathing techniques. Many yoga stretches can be done while holding your baby, and some can even be done while nursing. Babies also enjoy gentle massage and stretching of their bodies. Since babies are very attuned to their mother’s breathing patterns, practicing deep relaxation together is very calming and healing for both mom and baby.

Finding a Group
Many gyms, health clubs, YMCAs, YWCAs, hospitals and health care facilities offer fun fitness programs through floor exercises, water aerobics, stroller exercises and yoga classes designed for new moms and their babies together. Call around to find a class near you.

If you cannot find a local class, you can start your own class at a local gym or lease a franchise using information supplied by a specific company. Strollercize.com based in New York; StrollerFit.com in Cincinnatti, Ohio; FitFor2.com in Atlanta, Georgia; Motherwell in Pennsylvania; and FitMomCanada.com in Toronto, Canada, list local classes and provide information and licensing agreements to start a local group.

However, if you do not want to join a health club to be a part of this new fitness playgroup trend, you can incorporate exercise in your current playgroup or organize a separate fitness playgroup. In addition to talking and getting to know each other, you can push strollers while you walk around the block or the park, do an exercise video together, share weights for a strength-training workout, or do calisthenics together. In addition, there are many exercise tapes on the market that include babies in the routines for moms and dads.

It does not really matter what you do, as long as you join or create a program that gets you out of the house and helps you get your body back while spending time with your baby and other new moms. The end result will be a healthier, stronger and happier mom!

About the Author:
Carren W. Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups. A homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded four successful playgroups and one homeschool support group as well as helped start countless other playgroups around the world via the Internet.