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Mama & Baby fitness classes: what to expect

by Viviane Höger

When can I start working out again?
What if my baby is fussy and needs to eat or a nappy change during class?
What if I was inactive during pregnancy and don’t feel very fit at all?

These are some of the frequently asked questions I get from new clients joining my Well Mama classes.

Sure, working out with your baby is an amazing way to get back in shape after pregnancy. But it’s also entirely different from any pre-pregnancy workouts you might have done.

First of all, your body undergoes complex change as you nurture and then give birth to new life, and so, there should be no expectation that you’ll return to your pre-pregnant shape as soon as you’ve given birth.  The postnatal body needs to be respected, and not rushed into unsuitable activities that could potentially increase your risk for long-term physical issues. It is very important to slowly ease back into fitness. Most women are ready for physical activity once they have had their postnatal check – around six weeks postpartum.

Secondly, packing up your baby to take to your workout adds a layer of logistics (and anxiety!) that previously didn’t exist when you hit the gym! But with a little planning it can be done (!), and you’ll feel stronger in mind, body and spirit with each class you take. I’ve seen women who are sleep deprived and overwhelmed do anything they can to get to class. They come not only for the workout, but also for the connections they’re making with other mamas in class.

When I’m teaching my Well Mama classes, I want the mamas to feel successful, strong, safe and well cared for. I want them to laugh, to meet someone they can go for a walk with later in the week, and to be comfortable passing their baby off to me to hold while they master the squat!

Teaching Mama & Baby fitness can be challeging as the class hardly ever goes to plan! But years of experience have taught me to go with the flow and stay flexible. My job is primarely to ensure that the mamas are getting a safe and exciting workout that supports their postpartum rehabilitation. But I also love the fact that through exercise, I am enabling them to bond with their babies and other mamas.

If you’re considering joining a Mama & Baby fitness course, here’s what you should expect from your class so that you can have a great experience too….

Safety first, always…Join a course that supports your postpartum recovery

The exercises I take my mamas through are postnatal specific. They are carefully planned and designed take into consideration common postantal issues such as reduced lumbopelvic and joint stability, pelvic floor weakness, and postural changes. The exercises also incorporate guidelines for managing their body in everyday activities such as breastfeeding, lifting or carrying heavy objects.

We don’t do crunches (sit-ups), twisting, burpess, or jumping unless your body has fully recovered, or at least not until you have attended some form of postntal recovery or fitness class. I check the abdominal separation of every mama in class for diastasis recti, and I teach you how to do it too.

We do easy to follow cardio that gets harder every week, and some interval training to keep the heart rate up without pounding on the pelvic floor. Strengh training focuses on building and strenghning the muscles that we need the most as mamas– think a strong back and core needed to carry your little one for hours in the baby-carrier, or getting them out of the car in that super heavy carseat!

Your instructor should be knowledgeable about diastasis recti and how a woman’s connective tissue in the core becomes stretched during pregnancy.

I repeat the mantra ‘belly button to your spine’ throughout the whole class. Your instructor should teach body awareness by encouraging correct breathing techniques and very importantly, they need to be observing and correcting you (if necessary) throughout the class. 

A good instructor will provide options and modifications that allow each woman to get what they need out of the workout. Everyone’s body is different, but education is power, so the instructor’s cueing and coaching needs to be precise and encouraging. That way, each participant can feel confident that the workout is working for her.

You’ll get to know other mamas in your area

At the start of each new term I ask the mamas to introduce themselves and their babies. They also share a little bit of personal information, which helps to bring the group together and form friendships.

Before every class begins, I sing a welcome song naming every baby in class. We also sing goodbye, and most babies are mesmerised by Heidi – my lovely and bright hand puppet. My highlight of the class is often seeing their toothless grins!

Mama & Baby classes are best when there’s a place to hang out afterwards. This is where those crucial friendships really take shape. Check to see if there’s a café or comfy room or park for you to linger in after your workout.

Flexibility is key… and be prepared!

Never worry about being late for a class. That’s what I always tell my clients. I know how hard it is to get out of the house with a baby. Just find your way to class and be welcomed in at whatever point you are there at. You’ll feel better for having done at least a portion of the workout and for the good chat you’ll have with the other mamas later.

Your baby will cry during your workout class – that’s just the way it goes. Remember that no one else is affected and that the other mamas and the instructor are sensitive to how you feel when your baby is fussy. We are biologically hard-wired to respond to our baby’s cries, but you should feel fine passing her off so that you can continue your exercises.

Try to minimise stress by packing what you need to bring with you the day/evening before class. Plan your route allowing a few extra minutes for parking or a missed train if you can.

Whether it’s postnatal fitness, Pilates, or yoga that you choose to take, I hope that you lay the foundation to be your strongest and healthiest self by taking a quality Mama & Baby fitness class. You may meet a new best friend or learn something completely new about your body. You’ll feel healthier and happier, which in turn will make everything about being a new mama easier. Have fun!

Well Mama Courses in Zürich and Region

ONGOING - Wädenswil

Baby Let’s Move (from 6-weeks postpartum)
Course date & time: Mondays from 10:00-11:00
Location: Familien-Oase, Seestrase 49, 8820 Wädenswil
Course dates: 9/01/17 – 27/02/17: spaces available

Fit Mama for Life (from 12-weeks postpartum)
Course date & time: Thursdays from 15:00-16:00
Course dates: 12/01/17 – 02/03/17: spaces available

 For more information please email me at info@wellmama.ch 

COMING SOON – Zürich

Baby Let’s Move (from 6-weeks postpartum)
Course date & time: Wednesdays from 10:00 – 11:00
Location: Wilde Tiere Family Club, Voderberg 11, 8044 Zürich
Course dates: 
 01/02/17 – 22/03/17: spaces available

Fit Mama for Life (from 12-weeks postpartum)
Course date & time: Wednesdays from 11:00 – 12:00
Location: Wilde Tiere Family Club, Voderberg 11, 8044 Zürich
Course dates: 01/02/17 – 22/03/17: spaces available

For more information please email the venue directly at info@wilde-tiere.com

COMING SOON – Thalwil

Baby Let’s Move (from 6-weeks postpartum)
Course date & time: Mondays from 09:00-10:00
Location: fitart, Seestrasse 97-99, 8800 Thalwil
Course dates: 06/03/17 – 24/04/17: spaces available

For more information please email me at info@wellmama.ch

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