Smiling and giggling babies are a common sight at a Baby Boot Camp session in St. Louis. That’s because their moms are thrusting them into the air for shoulder presses, balancing them during yoga poses and swiftly pushing them in strollers through the park.
New moms no longer need to search for a babysitter and part ways with their kids to work off their baby weight; they can bring them along for the ride. Baby Boot Camp is one such local program designed by a mom for moms. Each week, Allison Dougherty welcomes 10 to 15 mothers and their babies to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday classes at Forest Park, or inside St. Louis Galleria in the case of inclement weather. “I invite each mom to let me know what her goals are,” Dougherty says. “Some women want to lose a certain amount of weight; others want to maintain weight or strength.”
Pregnant or postnatal moms are invited to bring any or all of their offspring, from 6-week-old babies to 6-year-old kids. During the fitness sessions, moms push their babies in strollers, stopping along the way at cardio- and strength-training stations, where exercises range from squats, lunges and planks to shoulder presses and push-ups. “These work numerous muscle groups at one time, which is especially efficient if you only have a limited time for the workout,” Dougherty says. While the workouts are a challenge, she adds that they are attainable activities women can maintain throughout and following pregnancy. “We modify exercises for each stage of pregnancy and post-pregnancy.”
In addition to staying fit, the sessions also bond mom and baby, Dougherty notes. “It’s another way they can connect with their child, and it teaches kids about being active and fit from a young age.” Dougherty’s 2-year-old son, who accompanies her to the classes along with her 6-month-old daughter, already knows a lot about exercise. And kids, as well as moms, can form new relationships through the sessions. “You can connect with other local moms who have a lot in common with you,” Dougherty says. “Friendships develop, and we love for new moms to come.”
Jewish Community Center
The Jewish Community Center (JCC), which has Chesterfield and Creve Coeur locations, also offers ways to workout with your kids. While there currently are no classes running, six-week sessions based on demand are added throughout the year, according to Marianne Chervitz of JCC.
Among options, Stroller Baby Boot Camp meets at area parks to give mothers a brisk walking workout, while pushing their kids in strollers between aerobic activity stations. Mom and Baby Yoga and Mommy Baby Boogie classes involve a low-impact routine where babies can be used as weight when mothers feel comfortable. “Mom can lift her baby over her head during a yoga pose, roll the baby on an exercise ball and put the baby on her lap while doing sit-ups,” Chervitz says.
The sessions serve new mothers who want to get back in shape, but don’t necessarily want to leave their babies with a sitter, she continues. “This way, they can get a great workout and, at the same time, bond with their baby.” Many of the moms become lifelong friends and their kids also get to know each other, she adds.
Wellbridge Athletic Club & Spa
If you’re a mom looking for some time to work out alone, master personal trainer Karin Lodes leads postnatal (and prenatal) training sessions at Wellbridge in Clayton. Childcare for babies 8 weeks and older is provided at the facility while mothers exercise. “Workouts are focused around appropriate exercises for where each mother is in the pre- or post-pregnancy process,” Lodes says.
While some women attend weekly, others attend three times a week in individual or up to four-person sessions. The hour-long classes typically consist of a warm up, followed by strength training—particularly for the abdomen, and assisted stretching closes the workouts. “A lot of my clients are able to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight within six months,” Lodes notes. To maintain results, she advises women to continue strength-training as part of their fitness routine at least twice a week. “Naturally over time, our metabolism slows down and we’re going to lose muscle mass. Strength training is the only way to combat that.”
The classes are available to members, with guest passes offered to non-members, Lodes notes. She emphasizes women should receive clearance from their doctor before starting any workout routine, and results will depend on your previous fitness regimen.
Fitness for Moms
Baby Boot Camp: 805-7202, babybootcamp.com
Jewish Community Center: 442-3173, jccstl.org
Wellbridge: 746-1500, wellbridge.com/wellbridge-athletic-club-and-spa/clayton