After my daughter was born I stopped going to the gym. I thought I could manage getting there a few nights a week, but it didn't take long for me to realize I couldn't be away from her after an eight-hour workday.
So I traded in my gym membership for an at-home elliptical machine. I've used it a fair amount, albeit not enough. Balancing it all was a struggle, and my fitness routine was the first thing I slashed from my to-do list. Eventually though, walking with Maggie was a workout I could stick with, at least in the warmer weather.
For many new parents, even the best-laid exercise plans take a backseat when the daily grind sets in. If you're looking to bounce back after baby, Lisa Druxman, postnatal fitness expert and founder of Stroller Strides, a Long Island-based mommy and me exercise class, offered tips to help new moms stick with a fitness routine all year long.
* Establish a schedule. “Walking is one of the first activities your doctor will allow you to do following childbirth, and it’s a great way to get some fresh air and regain strength,” said Druxman. “Getting your baby used to the stroller and a routine will help you build the foundation for longer walks and workouts. Try to walk at approximately the same time each day so both you and baby can develop a rhythm in your schedules.”
* Change up your course. “Establishing a routine is key to sustaining a fitness regimen all year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with it,” said Druxman. Jogging strollers, such as The BOB Revolution, are great for the sidewalk, but many models also excel on off-road trails and even the beach. "Exploring new terrain stimulates baby with new sights, smells and sounds, and you benefit because you’re cross-training," she said. "Some paths may offer more incline, providing you with a strength workout, while others allow you to work on your speed and maybe pick up a run.”
* Beat boredom with intervals. It's easy to turn your stroller outing into a total body workout by mixing it up with walking, running and toning intervals. "To get the best fitness results in the least amount of time, increase your intensity by picking up your speed for short intervals," said Druxman. "Then follow it up with a lighter intensity or strength training station. For example, try walking lunges with your stroller to get a great lower body workout."
* Incorporate impromptu exercise. “Fitting fitness into the nooks and crannies of your day will create a stronger, fitter you in 2013,” said Druxman. “Your stroller should go everywhere you go so that your free time can be maximized with exercise. Perhaps you have an extra half-hour before picking the older kids up from school or you see a great park on your way home from a lunch date – you’ll be amazed how often fitness opportunities pop up!”
* Let fitness be fun. You won't be able to stick with a fitness routine if you don't find it rewarding. “Stroller Strides classes not only provide a fun and effective stroller-based workout, but they also help you meet other new moms and help you bond with your baby through exercise," she said. "At the very least, incorporate other moms into your fitness routine -- it’s great to be surrounded by women who can encourage and support you through the various stages of motherhood."