Take care of yourself and bond with your baby By Michelle Collins May 1, 2009
For new mothers, finding time to exercise is almost impossible. Even when you do find the time to work out, you feel guilty you aren’t spending that time with your child.
But what if there were exercise classes that allowed you to bring your baby with you, get the fitness you deserve and simultaneously bond with your child? Fortunately, there are quite a few of these classes available throughout the Granite State.
From yoga to cardio to even working out with your kid’s stroller, there are several New Hampshire-based exercise classes offering a variety of routines that incorporate parents and their children. The classes are aimed at getting the parents’ heart rates up and their bodies back in shape, while building an even stronger bond with their child.
“It really gives the parents and the kids something special,” said Lisa Flynn, founder of Childlight Yoga.
Flynn, who has a 6-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, founded Childlight Yoga in 2005, three years after she started doing yoga.
“I actually tried yoga while I was in college….Over the years, after having my children, I got more serious about it,” Flynn said.
The classes incorporate children from infancy to middle-school ages, and are offered in Exeter, Hampton Falls, Dover, Somersworth and Portsmouth.
“The toddler and preschool classes are super popular,” Flynn said. “They love being a success and doing something with mom.”
The Baby Itsy Bitsy Yoga classes, for example, are designed to support a baby’s development through different yoga postures. The classes also improve a baby’s sleep and digestion, and help the parents relieve their own stress and anxiety, as well as get a better night sleep themselves.
“That’s what yoga does for us physically and psychologically,” Flynn said. “Doing some twists helps our digestion…every movement that we do is based on some movement of our spine.”
Childlight Yoga classes for infants also gets babies crawling and on the floor, which is significant for brain development, according to Flynn. Flynn’s own 7-year-old daughter has a slight learning disability, and her classes welcome all children with any disabilities or attention issues.
In addition to the development and relaxation gained through yoga, there are also several classes around the state that allow parents to get in their cardio with their baby right by their side.
“The mom’s getting amazing exercise…it’s a full body workout,” said Heather Merrill, Instructor for Stroller Strides classes in Derry, Salem, Manchester, Bedford and Nashua.
Merrill is a mother of two daughters, 6 months and 2 years old. After having her first child, Merrill was looking for ways to get back into shape.
“I was feeling a little self-conscious about myself and my body so I knew I needed something to do,” Merrill said.
After doing research on the Internet, Merrill came across the Stroller Strides program and fell in love with it. Merrill started out her career as a lawyer, but finding this opportunity to start her own business and be home with her kids (not to mention having the luxury of taking her children to work with her) was much more appealing.
Stroller Strides offers classes for children 6 weeks old to 4 years old, and courses range from 60- to 75-minute outdoor classes from spring to fall, as well as a 55-minute indoor class during the winter. The classes are aimed at cardio and toning the mother’s abs and legs, while incorporating resistance tubing and their children’s strollers.
“Every once and a while we’ll do specialty classes [too], like…a Guts and Butts class,” Merrill said.
“It gets them out not only socializing with their kids, but also socializing with other moms,” Merrill said.
The classes also incorporate singing songs and playing games to get the kids out of the strollers.
Stroller Strides lets mothers try their first class for free. The program also allows mothers to go to any location or number of classes they want, and Stroller Strides recently began a Saturday class for working moms.
“You have to be flexible when you have kids,” Merrill said.
Michelle Collins is a freelance writer and blogger for The Telegraph.
Mommy/baby exercise classes
Mommy and Me Fitness Manchester and Bedford Elizabeth Lopez Harlow 674-6958; Elizabeth@mommyandmefitness.net www.mommyandmefitness.net Classes offered include power stroller and sculpt, stroller circuit and cardio circuit with baby/toddler.
NH SuperMommies Fitness Epsom www.nhsupermommies.com Classes offered include SuperMommies stroller fitness and SuperMommies pre/postnatal fitness. All fitness levels and stages of pregnancy are welcome.
LiveFIT Personal Training Studio Hampton Falls Charles Fowler; certified personal trainer 929-4999; firstname.lastname@example.org www.livefitpersonaltraining.net Postpartum mothers are allowed to bring their newborn with them during their personal training session.
Mommy and Me Yoga Portsmouth 431-2334; email@example.com www.seacoastymca.org
Stroll Patrol Portsmouth, Rochester and Kittery, Maine Sara@strollpatrolmom.com www.strollpatrolmom.com Rumble Tumble Portsmouth 427-5437 www.rumbletumblegym.com