Frequently Asked Questions By Moms About Exercise

Today I hosted a Q + A over on Tinyhood, an app for parents to connect in their neighborhoods with other parents. I was kind of surprised that I hadn’t answered many of the questions on my blog yet! It seems like many of us are in the same boat when it comes to fitting in exercise as a mom, what kinds of exercise and where to look.

So let’s break things down… I’m including my experience as well as what I’d recommend a client.

Where does a new mom start?

Me: I started working out 3.5 weeks after Tommy was born. I exercised throughout my pregnancy and had just finished the Boston Marathon when I found out I was expecting. My first workouts were walks and 20 minutes on the elliptical. I did this workout with a personal trainer a month after my “normal” delivery. I did a little jogging but my chest was so painful. I started spinning at 6 weeks and added in Pilates at BTone once my doctor cleared me.

Recommendation: It totally depends on your level of fitness during the end of your pregnancy and your labor. If you had a hard labor or a C-section, you likely will need more time. I recommend waiting until you are cleared by your doctor (but obviously, I didn’t). Once you do start, low impact is best. Spinning, barre, Pilates and non jumping strength training will be safe bets. Be careful of the ab exercises that you do. Notify any teacher in a class that does abs like in Pilates so you can have proper modifications, especially if you think you have a diastasis recti. I would also educate yourself on modifications because many young teachers do not know them. Not a knock on them, most training programs don’t cover it and until you’re a mom, you likely don’t know.

You can also start with these videos:

I don’t have much time, what is the most effective workout?

Me: The amount of time moms have to do things they actually want to do is limited so why waste precious minutes? I get it. I used to take 90 minute long yoga classes. I do not have time for that anymore. Today, I worked out for 20 minutes. I dragged Tommy to babysitting at the gym so I could literally sweat for 20 minutes. The whole process took an hour and fifteen minutes and I only got to workout for less than a half hour AND I had to go to baby music class without showering.  Why the heck did I do this? Because I like to workout. It’s not about how many calories I burn, but how I can reap the most benefits from the least amount of time exercising. So what is my workout of choice when this is the case?

Hight intensity interval training aka HIIT.

Today I did 10 minutes on the arc trainer plus 12 full competition burpees, 12 kettle bell swings, 12 clean and press kettle bells, 12 single leg dead lifts, 12 suitcase crunches repeat 3 times.

Here is another favorite HIIT workout I shared on my blog that helped me reach my post-pregnancy body again.

Some other favorite HIIT workouts that are shot in real time, aka, you can do them with me that are both 15-minute workouts and super hard that require no equipment include this:

and this one too.

These two videos are part of my SFit gym which has been offline since the fall but is coming back this month. All lifetime members will have access again. These workouts are so hard, so effective and require minimal equipment so they are perfect to do at home or even the gym.

Just search YouTube for HIIT workouts for more options. I also do enjoy the Kayla Itsines BBG program but DO NOT recommend the abs for postpartum women so be careful if you choose to follow it.

Recommendation: You first have to find something you like because you are not going to do a workout that you hate. Lots of people hate HIIT or bootcamp style workouts. While I think they are the most effective, you’re not going to see results if you don’t do them. Try classes that challenge you but that you also enjoy. Try a variety to find one you like. A class like Barry’s Bootcamp is likely a bit much for a new mom but gradually if you want to lose the baby weight, this style class can not be beat. Barre and Pilates might not burn the most calories but they do help strengthen and tone your muscles. BTone’s ab series are the best in the city. If you just want to burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time, try a 35 minute spin class at Recycle. If you can only workout at home, search YouTube for a workout you’re excited to try.

How do I fit exercise into my busy day?

Me: I am lucky with this one. Since it’s my job, I make it a priority. I sign up for classes that hit me with a fee if I cancel or don’t show up. I workout usually at 8:30 am where I have babysitting for Tommy or around 11 am at the gym when I also have babysitting. One the weekends, I have much more flexibility as Nick is home to watch Tommy. I try to workout 2-3 times during the week and then twice on the weekends. Days I don’t workout, I’ll try to go for a long walk to the grocery store or something.

Recommendation: Try joining a gym that has flexible child care hours. I have a list here on gym and studios in Boston childcare. If that is not an option, you can try the nap workout. I.e workout during nap time. This summer when Tommy would only nap in his stroller, two days a week I would go running with him where he would take his morning nap. You can also squeeze in a workout before the baby wakes up if you’re not nursing or don’t mind pumping beforehand. I actually have only done this once as I’m still nursing (and like to sleep in).

There are also workouts where you can bring the baby! I teach one on Monday’s at Burn Back Bay. They also have classes at Healthworks in Back Bay, Asana in Charlestown, North End Yoga, Xtend Barre and more.

If you are back at work, your best bet is to fit in exercise at lunch time or before going into the office. This is when those short, efficient workouts will really help you out! Aim for just two days a week and then try to get in those weekend workouts.

For more answers for the Q+A, visit Tinyhood here. 

If you have another question, leave it below in the comments!

 

Frequently Asked Questions By Moms About Exercise

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5 Comments

  • Annie
    Reply

    My son is just a bit older then Tommy. He HATES the gym daycare and they always end up coming to get me after ten minutes no matter how often we try. I get most of my workouts in at home but miss classes and spin!

  • Erin
    Reply

    Dear Sarah,

    You look wonderful post-baby! In your opinion, is the tone it up nutrition plan enough found for someone who is pregnant?

    Thank you

    • Sarah
      Reply

      I feel like I’m not a good person to ask because I’ve known Katrina for so long -- pre TIU days though Diet.com and do consider her a friend. I tried the plan when I was 25 and found the recipes to have too many ingredients for me personally to make. Since she is my friend, I don’t want to say anything bad but I don’t think you should be following a nutrition plan if you are pregnant as it will likely not be enough calories. When I was pregnant, I ate everything I wanted. I was so much more in tune with my hunger that I didn’t have to think about what I ate. Enjoy your 10 months of being able to gain weight without stress! If you are overweight or obese and your doctor has recommended not to gain much weight, I think there are diets that might be better and provide more calories for your growing baby.

  • Patty
    Reply

    Curious when you stopped being careful about ab exercises after baby and how to know when you’re ready? What type of ab exercises are appropriate for postpartum moms? I’m 9 weeks postpartum tomorrow and I dont think I have any abdominal issues but not sure how to tell. Hard to find much useful info about abdominal separation.

    • Sarah
      Reply

      Interesting question! I avoided crunches probably for 4 months but did planks, side planks, specific postpartum ab workouts once I was cleared to workout again. I think at 9 months, I finally stopped doing all modifications. Between 4 and 9 months, I slowly introduced moves that were challenging and if I could keep my belly from puffing out I would do it, if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t and if it hurt my lower back, i avoided it as well. Really the only move I avoided was a crunch straight up. I think it depends on you and your body. I did planks almost to the end which many people don’t -- and I probably won’t next time. I had strong abs. They didn’t look “back to normal” until I hit 9 months.

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