Hip Mom: Hip Ways to Exercise
I’m about 9 weeks postpartum. Everything is going swimmingly: the baby is nice and plump; we’re all getting some decent sleep, and I’m starting to feel like a normal person. I look down at my squooshy post-baby belly and, with a sad and heavy heart, call the gym. “At what age do you take infants?” I’m hoping, praying….three months? ”Six weeks!” says the attendant brightly. GAH! I have no excuse now. So I drag my blobby self to the gym, thinking that the baby can’t make it through an entire 50-minute workout without me and/or my boobs. Then the worst thing ever happens: I make it through the workout without dying or puking. The baby sleeps peacefully through the whole shebangl Ugh! I have to start exercising after my self-imposed 10-, 11-month hiatus.
But, while my gym is great, and the childcare is top notch, I find that I just go for my workout and leave right after. There’s no big draw, and while I sometimes see women I know, it’s a pretty solitary experience. Then a friend at another gym tells me that her daughter gets hand/foot/mouth disease after just one visit to the gym’s childcare. Boo!
Enter Aubrey Kelsey. In May, a mere two months postpartum, Aubrey launched “Empower Fitness for Moms.” Empower Fitness is this crazy concept that you can exercise, be with your baby, and chat with lovely moms – ALL AT ONCE. Talk about multi-tasking!
And you will want to hate Aubrey when you meet her. She bears a striking resemblance to young Cindy Crawford, and has the physique of a supermodel who does Pilates 18 hours per day. But Aubrey is so warm, so supportive and caring toward each of the moms in her classes, that you will love her despite your envy. Aubrey holds an American Council on Exercise personal trainer certificate, as well as pre- and post-natal fitness certifications. I attend a “Stroller Strength” class at Perfect Practice at 51st and Sheridan because at 10 a.m. it is too hot to meet at LaFortune’s jogging trails, the usual venue. Stroller Strength “is a 60-minute, full-body workout combining cardio (power walking and/or jogging) with intervals of strength training using resistance tubes and your body weight while having your child in the stroller with you. No need for childcare and no judgment when you have to tend to your baby.”
And it is, well, it’s fun! We do cardio, abs, leg work and upper body. But what I love is this – sure, we are exercising, and that is great and good for moms – our bods and (I realize as I grow older and slightly more wiser) our minds. But every mom, including Aubrey, with her edible 4- month-old, has a baby, and if the babies are mad or grouchy or need some attention, they come first. And it is such a relief. Yes, working out is good for you, but sometimes the babies have to come first. So I guess we’re exercising — OK, yes, there’s buckets of sweat and pain and cardio — but I don’t even think about it because I am out with moms and chatting and the baby is happy and not contracting some awful baby virus. Woo hoo! And Aubrey is really patient and makes corrections; I keep thinking she is going to giggle at my hopelessly labored breathing and inability to do a single sit up. But there is no judgment, just patience and empathy.
At Perfect Practice, I have my baby plus my 4- and 3-year-old, who run amok around the track and throw balls at each other. But the Stroller Strength class is usually held at La Fortune, where it would be much harder to have a mobile child who’s too big for a stroller with you. So just bring your baby here! One of my favorite parts is singing silly songs like “Wheels on the Bus” to the kids while doing leg lifts; I am pretty sure we must look like a group of moms who just escaped the loony bin to passersby.
Aubrey also leads a “Better Body After Baby Challenge,” which will start Oct. 12. This is a 6-week challenge where Aubrey (or her new instructor, Kristen) works with you by combining a variety of workouts including interval, cardio, core and strength training. She makes sure you will not get bored or plateau. Included in the six weeks are three indoor classes a week, weekly home workouts, nutrition guidance, and even a swag bag. This class is at the awful boot camp hour of 5:45 a.m., so leave sleeping kids with dad. It’s for all moms no matter how long it’s been since your last child (although you must be at least 6-weeks postpartum). There’s a private Facebook page that helps provide accountability. At the end of 6 weeks, you will be amazed at your results, and you will probably have several new good friends.
Once a month on a Saturday is a more relaxing, but equally fun gathering: Mommy and Me Yoga at the Riverside Park at 41st and Riverside. It’s an hour of playful stretching, light exercise, and bonding with your pre-walking baby. It’s the perfect way to start your weekend – outside with your baby, and having time to just be! (Oh yes, and stops for caffeine are highly encouraged).
Finally, Aubrey’s latest class is “Floor to Core.” It’s prenatal fitness focusing on the pelvic floor and core — these two components, along with your uterus, work together to push out your baby. The class helps moms bounce back and recover more quickly, lessens back pain, and helps strengthen the major muscles needed for labor. Strengthening these muscles also helps with urinary incontinence (ugh, the things we mothers go through), and lessens the chance of diastis recti. What’s that, you ask? It’s when your abdominal muscles pull apart and separate during pregnancy and childbirth, and why I still cannot do a sit up even if you were holding a margarita right in front of me. Floor to Core teaches techniques and stretches to help through pregnancy and labor. Plus, you can connect with other expecting moms — a big help when you feel like you’re the only person in the world suffering through the indignities of gestation.
While physical fitness and the benefits of exercise are the primary drivers of Empower Fitness for Moms, Aubrey wants to build something bigger and better — a real community. After her first son was born, she became lonely and a bit depressed, and found she had a difficult time connecting with other moms going through the same things she was. So, when she discovered she was pregnant again, she decided she would strive to create a community of moms who can support each other with genuine friendships too. Empower Fitness for Moms also invites you to play dates, girls’ nights out, and useful events like clothing swaps. I notice that many of the moms are from out of town; it’s a great way to meet people when you are a new Tulsan! Another mom, who just had her first baby at age 40, notes that she has “all these friends from her pre-baby life, but no mom friends. Now, thanks to Empower Fitness, she does. (In fact I take an instant liking to this mom and promptly invite her over for mimosas – she is probably creeped out!) And all this is reasonably priced. Unlimited Stroller Strength classes, for example, are just $50 per month. Or you can drop in for $10. And the first class is free!
So if you’re feeling like you’re in a bit of mommy rut — physical or mental — come check out Empower Fitness for Moms (on the web or Facebook, or just show up for your first free class). No matter how old or young your babies are, your body and mind will be thankful for the fresh air and new friendships. I’ll probably be there, huffing and puffing with my exuberantly fat 4-month-old. I’ll try not to drag you back to my house for drinks.