BY JENN HARDY
THE SUBURBAN, Nov. 10, 2010
There are many reasons for new moms to exercise regularly. Some women are motivated by the thought of getting back the body they had 10 months ago. Others start exercising to release serotonin, hopefully warding off the baby blues or postpartum depression. Whatever the motivation behind taking up a regular exercise routine after giving birth, there is no shortage of ways new moms can get their heart-rates going again.
Luckily, it’s not even necessary to hire a babysitter to get that workout in. A wide variety of programs in Montreal offer classes that allow new moms to exercise while spending time with baby. Some offer a more rigorous work-out while other programs allow new moms to socialize, and offer a time to bond with baby.
Little Burgundy resident Samantha Hull is a mother of two who has experience with just about every kind of mom and baby exercise available in the city. When her son, Stelio, was born, Hull tried out mom and baby yoga and baby swimming classes.
“Both were a great way to bond with the him,” she says. “But I didn’t get the workout I was looking for.” She said her son loved the swimming classes but she left him at home twice a week so she could get out and take her own Pilates classes.
When her daughter came along three years later, she decided to take her routine up a notch and opted for the Cardio-Stroller course. Part of Cardio Plein Air, which takes people of all ages and fitness levels to local parks to get their hearts pumping, Cardio-Stroller is an intense workout for women wishing to get back into shape after birth.
Hull explains that because the babies are with their mothers in strollers, there is no running, which would jostle the baby about. “You’re always walking, and there is lots of emphasis on squats and muscle training.”She started the program when her daughter Inès was three months old.
“Some women did it with sleds up on Mont Royal,” she says. Hull took her daughter to the classes twice a week. “We both looked forward to it,” she says. “There were some babies Inès was so happy to see. She was as close to making friends as a three-month-old could get.”
Hull found the program particularly helpful to boost her own energy. “Neither of my babies were sleepers,” she says. “I needed energy and being outside to exercise was so much better than being inside the gym.”
Hull loved her Cardio-Stroller trainer, Linda Comtois so much, she brought her over to the office once maternity leave was over. Twice a week Hull and a dozen of her coworkers spend their lunch hour doing their training with Comtois around the Lachine canal.
For yoga instructor Jayme Hernandez, exercising after giving birth might be more important for the mind and spirit and for the connection with baby, than for the body alone.
Hernandez teaches prenatal yoga, gives partner’s labour workshops, and is the founder of Mom and Baby Danceflo. Her program is a combination of yoga stretches and dance, allowing moms to let loose and rejuvenate.
“I feel there’s a lot of social pressure to lose our pregnancy bellies,” says Hernandez. “That can cause so much stress. It’s more important to feel good inside.” She explains that when we breathe and express ourselves through movement, this allows the mind and body to balance out. “This is more important than looking the way you did before.”
Mother of three-year-old Leaya, Hernandez knows what it’s like to be in the pattern of “go, go, go.” She says, “Taking care of a baby, especially in the first year, can be a 24/7 job. It becomes routine and we forget how to stay in the moment.”
Hernandez says it’s important to stop thinking about diapers and practice connecting to the breath. “It’s important for new moms to learn how to stay in the present,” she says. “Dancing is a way of doing that. When we dance, we release, let go and express ourselves.”
As any new mom knows, going for a night at a dance club usually isn’t much of a reality.