When my first child was 15-months-old, my body was at a point of no return. It seems like the so-called “pregnancy baby fat” was not really that anymore, but it was there on my body to stay. For forever. My body felt so different after 10 months of very hungry, carb-craving pregnancy and 15 months of super energy-consuming, constant breastfeeding (but somehow not leading to weight loss), lucky-if-I-had-time-to-shower, stay-at-home motherhood. I am not saying that my body needed to go back to what it used to be. But I wanted to feel like who I used to be.
But my problem was that I HATED TO EXERCISE!!
That is why whenever I ran into the group of stroller-running moms in our Capitol Hill neighborhood, I never thought of joining them. I had many, many excuses not to work out with them. I would tell myself; Group fitness isn’t for me because I’m not as fit as other moms and I’ll never be able to catch up with them. And it’s too hot/it’s too cold. Ugh, I hate to sweat. And I don’t even have workout clothes. What if my baby starts crying…
When I got to my first class, I was still pretty nervous. I felt like everybody would be so much more athletic than I am and I was afraid that my little one would start crying at any moment wanting to get out of her stroller. We circled up to start our warm up session where everyone introduced themselves with their names and the ages of their baby, and answered a question of the day, which was “Where else would you want to be right now?” I immediately thought of Hawaii. And I was able to relate to many other mom’s answers too. That was a very nice ice-breaker.
Once we were done with our warm-up exercise, it was time to take my stroller out for a run for the first time. The instructor kept reminding me that I could take it at my own pace but I really felt comfortable running along with other moms. I had not ran for months and to my surprise, it felt SO GOOD.
At some point, I remember I even felt like crying because I was so happy. So happy to feel that I was finally out of my own little bubble of motherhood and found a new village for myself and my baby. The magic of group workout was already working well on me.
Right after that class, I signed up to be a monthly member. I knew it would take extra efforts for me to make this commitment. I knew I would have to push myself and learn some new tricks to make this our new routine. But I also knew that it will be worth it. I started to come to Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes 2-3 times a week and I did it for about 8 months with my then 15 months old with Fit4Mom DC.
My new routine did not only changed me physically, but it also really changed the mentally. It made me so positive! I was feeling healthier inside and out, and I was enjoying taking care of my toddler so much more than before.
In fact, instructors would suggest a lot of modifications to the exercise and if you don’t feel like running, you can just walk. Everyone is at different stages of mom life/pregnant life so it is natural for everyone to be at different levels. I was shocked to see even instructors have their kids in the stroller during the class! It is so inspiring to see these super talented, multi-tasking ladies who are there to help you enjoy your class. I still remember the voices of my favorite instructors saying “Go Yuko! Keep it up!” during our running sessions and how encouraging it was.
The hardest part is not the exercise, it’s the getting-out-of-the house-with-your-little-one-routine that is hard!
Leaving the house to get to the class ON TIME WITH YOUR BABY takes practice. But in time, I figured out that we just have to set the goal of departure time 30 minutes before the actual time and that worked out perfectly. I would also feed her breakfast on-the-go in the stroller kept her happy on the way to class. During the class, she was entertaining herself with her favorite snacks and toys while us moms were singing all the nursery rhymes that went along the exercise moves and instructor was blowing bubbles. At times my baby would start crying but it felt totally okay to take a little nursing break.Another positive change that happened to me was that I became a huge fan of a group workout.
My one and only sport I loved in my life was swimming and I was never used to moving my body with other people. But Fit4Mom was a different story because it is an open-air outdoor group exercise with other moms just like you. (Check out this video clip to see how much fun it is!) It just felt great to be outside with my little one. You get tons of Vitamin D from sunshine, which naturally makes you a happier person! Even in the rain or in cold winter, the indoor space we had were spacious enough and I felt comfortable.
I even purchased a BOB Jogging Stroller because I started to enjoy running, which was never ever my favorite activity in my whole entire life. I always loved taking my child to museums in DC and our favorite method of transportation became running with stroller. I even participated in a family 5K fun run with other moms and instructors from our class and actually enjoyed it.
It also gave me confidence to join another group fitness class that I could go without my child. I started to enjoy a more intense barre class. Little by little, I saw positive changes happening to my body and energy.
<Read my other post here about my unexpected transformation! – “How to Enjoy Stroller Runs Even When You Don’t Like Running. 5 Hints from a Couch Potato Mom”>
And the big bonus was that I met so many wonderful mom friends. Moms who I used to be intimidated by became our best playdate mates!
I have to be honest, it wasn’t easy meeting a good group of mom friends before Fit4Mom, and I found it difficult to move forward from the usual “How old is your baby and what’s her/his name?” conversation. But it was easier to be close to the moms at Fit4Mom because we saw each other often and shared the same experience each time.
Soon enough, my child started to recognize the other kids and it was such a special feeling to witness how she was making her first friends. I always looked forward to our little hangout time with kids after our class and often times there were free planned playdates with fun arts & crafts. Our classes were held at very fun locations like Eastern Market and Union Market, and that was such great perks. I also participated in a self-defense class, which was planned as a very unique moms’ night out event by the group.
After 8 months of Fit4Mom journey, I had to leave my village because we were leaving DC to a new city. (Follow me on Instagram to see all the fun stuff we do in NYC!) I really miss the fun workout at Fit4Mom and the village of moms I’ve met there in Capitol Hill.
Currently, I am facing a new challenge; How to get back in shape after baby #2 comes… In 2 weeks, we will welcome our #2 to our life and I am excited to figure out how to get back on track with my exercise. If anybody could share some wisdom about how to have regular exercise routine with 2 (or more) kids, I would really appreciate it 🙂