Great ways to get fit with your baby

Moms looking for ways to get back in shape after the holidays, boost endorphins and meet other moms can find exercise groups and classes that welcome new parents — and their babies.

Here are some options for Maryland moms looking to get moving and socialize without worrying about child care.

Kanga training2WExercise while wearing your baby

Get an exercise boost while wearing your baby in a Kangatraining class, which is a total body workout that incorporates interval training with music, low-impact aerobics and easy dance-based moves. Developed by an Austrian mom, fitness enthusiast and former dancer in 2008, Kangatraining recently arrived in the U.S., with classes in Columbia and Baltimore.

Class exercises focus on muscles that are weakened during pregnancy, such as the abdominal muscles, and those that are especially important to strengthen when having a baby, such as the back and pelvic floor, says Jasmin Reif-Medani, who teaches Kangatraining at Greenberries in Columbia and Baltimore and the Avalon Gym in Columbia.

“It's fun for the moms,” Reif-Medani says. “What makes Kangatraining special is that they do not have to worry about an unsettled baby because the babies are either integrated into the exercises (when doing floor exercises) or safe and happy when worn in supportive baby carriers.”

Moms can start class when they have been cleared for exercise by their health care practitioner, generally 6-10 weeks after birth, and continue as long as they are comfortable using a carrier and the baby is happy, often until age 2, Reif-Medani says. After babies are 6 months, moms may want to carry their babies on the back during class, which is easier.

Most types of carriers work for class. If a new mom doesn't have a baby carrier or the one she has isn't suitable, a limited number of appropriate carriers are available to borrow for free, Reif-Medani says.

Along with the physical benefits for moms, Kangatraining is touted as promoting bonding through babywearing while being a social outlet for new moms and possibly helping with postpartum depression. For more information, check the Greenberries website, greenberriescompany.com; Reif-Medani's Facebook page, facebook.com/pages/Kangatraining-with-Jasmin; and kangatraining.us where you can search by location.

Some babywearing groups also line up periodic classes that incorporate yoga or ballet while wearing your baby. Babywearing International of Southern Maryland has offered both Babywearing Ballerinas and Babywearing Yoga in the past. Check the group's website, somdbabywearers.weebly.com, and Facebook page for scheduled meetings and classes.

Power walk, work out with others

Another total body workout option for moms with babies in tow is a Stroller Strides class, offered locally through Fit4Mom franchises in Annapolis, Severn and Howard County.

These classes are for moms with kids ages 6 weeks to about 4 years in a stroller, says Karen Davis, certified Fit4Mom and Stroller Strides instructor and owner of Fit4Mom Annapolis. Moms can expect power walking — usually indoors during the winter months — and intervals of strength and body toning exercises using exercise tubing, the stroller and the environment, according to the website class description.

The Howard County group recently started offering Stroller Barre classes as well and plans to continue them in January, says Joy Emery of Fit4Mom Howard County. These classes use the stroller as a barre and incorporate more focused, precise movements that isolate the muscles, she says.

During the winter, Stroller Strides classes are held at the Westfield Mall in Annapolis and Arundel Mills in Hanover. The Howard County group meets at various locations, depending on the weather, including indoors at Stonehouse Community Center in Columbia. Check fit4mom.com for locations and cost. The first class is usually free.

Breathe, relax and connect

Moms can focus on themselves and their babies during “baby and me” yoga classes at yoga studios such as Crofton Yoga, The Happy Yogi and The Yoga Center of Columbia.

During Yogi Seeds and Mommy Too classes at The Happy Yogi in Columbia, moms practice breathing, centering and gentle postpartum movements along with interactive poses with their babies, says Emily Cardaro, youth program coordinator. The classes, which are for primary caregivers and babies ages 6 weeks to pre-crawling, also include developmentally appropriate movements for infants, she says.

New parents don't need to worry about crying babies or diaper changes during class, either. Feeding, changing and soothing babies is completely and normal and acceptable.

“With our mommy and me classes, we try to create a relaxing yet fun atmosphere so participants can expect to leave both their shoes and inhibitions at the door,” Cardaro says. “I think it is important to reiterate to parents almost every class that it is not going to perfect, and that's completely acceptable.”

By Crickett Gibbons